Interview: Fraser Murderburger

Posted: April 14, 2018 in Small Talk

Fraser muddabugga

I caught up with Fraser, the frontman of Scottish pop-punk tour-de-force The Murderburgers. They are probably my favourite pop-punk band right now. If their sheer fucking excellence wasn’t already apparent on 2012’s How to Ruin Your Life or 2014’s These Are Only Problems, then the LP they dropped a couple years ago, The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People, absolutely confirmed it. One of my favourite records of the last few years. If you don’t yet know them, the links at the bottom of this thing require your immediate attention!

So, I chatted with Fraser about what’s next for The Murderburgers, his other projects (including FUCK! (It’s Pronounced Shit!),  declining mental health, Scotland’s simultaneous beauty and bleakness and Fraser’s ‘punk rock son’!

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Dave: Hey Fraser! I hear you have been recording for a new Murderburgers release. Can you tell us any details?

Fraser: Hello! Yeah, we’ve just finished recording 4 songs for a new EP. It’s called Shitty People & Toothache and is all about when I lived with a couple of maniacs in Edinburgh that ripped me off, lied about me to the police and got me arrested in 2016. I ended up homeless and jobless because of it, and got dragged through court as well. It was a right laugh. It all worked out in the end though, and at least I got some new songs out of it. We’ll be announcing the details of it soon. The songs have just been sent off for mixing.

Dave: What has the recording process been like? What is the current Murderburgers line-up?

Fraser: Recording has been really easy going this time, and a lot quicker than I expected. We pretty much did everything over a couple of weekends with James from Elk Gang/Paper Rifles and it’s been great. Kev from Elk Gang/Paper Rifles and Jon from Paper Rifles have been doing backing vocals on the new stuff as well. They are the Scottish harmony dream team.

The current line-up is me, Alex from Bike Notes on bass and Alex from Alien8 on drums. I only have people called Alex in the band these days. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Noelle from Rational Anthem has also been playing bass for us on tour and will again a couple of times this year, and so will Kieron from Don Blake.

Dave: Following The 12 Habits of Highly Defective People, where are the Murderburgers going next?

Fraser: As well as the new EP, I’m booked in to demo our new album at the end of April with a view to us recording it properly at some point during the summer. I’m just piecing together the last of the songs now. The past couple of years have been pretty brutal, with the later part of last year almost doing me in completely, so now that I’ve spent a lot of time getting my shit together and have been actively trying not to be a sad sack of shit, I’ve been writing like crazy. Whenever I get out of a mental slump of sorts it feels like my brain has been rewired in a totally different way, and this time it’s been rewired to go ridiculously fast for most of the day, and writing new stuff helps calm it down. It makes me feel pretty terrible and exhausted at times, but at least I’m getting a lot more new stuff done at the same time as finding ways to control it and use it to my advantage. I’m really happy with the new songs anyway. After doing the last album with Matt Allison in Chicago, I’m way more confident when it comes to writing songs and also when it comes to singing, so I’m pretty much just writing whatever I want now without thinking too much about what people will think or sticking to a template or whatever. Thankfully playing in a band with such a dumb name stops me from getting too far up my own arse or taking myself too seriously, so it’ll still be a bleak sounding pop punk record, just not the exact same as the last one.

Oh yeah, as well as our new album, I’m genuinely going to do a country album under the name MacDaddy Mudderbang & The Goddamn Sex Cowards. Tim Loud and Freddy Fudd Pucker are going to be my sex cowards. I at least want to do the one album and play live a few times for the fun of it. You only live once, may as well make a country album called He’s First Mudderbang Baby.

Dave: Are there any plans to record again with Yellow and Red from Masked Intruder?

Fraser: No, not really. That was one of those awesome things where everything just lined up really well with everyone’s schedules, and I’m still amazed and really thankful that it actually happened. I stood in on guitar for MI in the UK on tour last year when Green couldn’t make it, and Red played drums for us at Fest in Gainesville last year too, so it’s been cool playing together since recording 12 Habits.

Dave: You recently released the Fuck! (It’s Pronounced Shit!) EP collection. What line-up did you record with?

Fraser: On the first couple of EPs Tom from The Kimberly Steaks/Lemonaids played bass and did backing vocals, and I did lead vocals, guitar and drums. On the latest EP I just did everything myself, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered having to teach the songs to anyone else.

Dave: How did the Against Me! song title puns begin?

Fraser: I can’t actually remember. I think I just thought “You Look Like I Need A Wank” would look funny on a t-shirt, then decided to use it as a song title. Just for the record, Against Me! are one of my favourite bands and have been since I was a teenager. I just find putting the word “wank” in their song titles really funny for some reason.

Dave: How do you approach writing the FIPS songs differently to the Murderburgers?

Fraser: I spend a lot less time on FIPS songs, which probably/definitely shows. These days I like to write Murderburgers albums like one big long mental breakdown where hopefully no one dies at the end, whereas FIPS stuff is more like horrible little anxiety attacks where you black out and come to again to find that you’ve trashed all of your stuff, and then you die.

Dave: Are there plans to continue with the FIPS stuff? Any further releases in the pipeline? How often have you played live as FIPS?

Fraser: I wasn’t going to bother, but I really enjoyed doing the latest EP, so I want to do more. Also, Scott at Brassneck Records putting it out on vinyl and doing an insert with all the lyrics and loads of photos made it feel like a real thing for the first time ever. Massive thanks to Scott for doing that. When he sent me the insert I didn’t expect it at all and it blew my tiny mind.

James recorded the last FIPS EP as well and had the idea to record, mix and release the next one in the same day, so that’s the plan. I want to do FUCK! (It’s Pronounced FULL LENGTH!), so maybe we’ll do that next. We’ve only played live a few times in Scotland, once at Fest in Gainesville, once at Bloated Saturday Festival in Iowa City, and once at Summer In October Fest in Belgium. I only really do it when I can be bothered. We’re playing at the Hamburg Booze Cruise Festival in June, but apart from that I don’t see that band suddenly starting to play live regularly. It’s hard to take a band called FUCK! (It’s Pronounced SHIT!) that seriously. I still get people asking why I don’t change that band name and also change Murderburgers to something less awful so that more people check them out, but I really don’t care. Every band just needs a name, and as I said before, it stops me from taking myself too seriously. Everything I do seems to be a slow burner anyway, so I’m pretty happy continuing to limp along like I have been for years. Having dumb band names has also taught me not to instantly dismiss other bands with dumb names, too. You ever listened to Fartbarf or Diarrhea Planet? Awful band names, but that shit rules.

Dave: What happened to Rat Toilet? The song you put on Bandcamp a while ago “Bohemian Rhapsody Part 2” is a song you previously wrote for Rat Toilet. Are there any other Rat Toilet songs you plan to release as a Murderburgers track? Did the band ever release anything except the 3 song ‘water closet rammy sessions’ you put on bandcamp?

Fraser: Rat Toilet was just for fun, really. My brother used to call me that because his pet rat used to piss and shit on me all the time, and Brad thought it was really funny and said we should do something under that name. After hearing the mixes Brad and I talked about putting the songs out under a less awful name since they actually turned out sounding really good, but then we just put them out under the name Rat Toilet anyway, and that’s all we really did. Murderburgers actually just properly re-recorded “Bohemian Rhapsody Part 2” for a 4-way split, but there are no plans to re-record any of the other songs at the moment.

Dave: You also play drums for a band from Edinburgh called Bike Notes- how did that come about?

Fraser: Max and Alex both used to play in a band from Edinburgh called The Walking Targets who were fucking amazing, and were also the first release on Round Dog Records. I became good friends with them after we took them on tour a couple of times, but the band broke up a couple of years ago and then their drummer moved away. I started playing drums for Turtle Lamone & The Prohibitions not long after that and Alex and Max both played in that band too, so the three of us started practicing the new songs they had been writing as well as playing in together in TLATP. That’s pretty much it. We only have that Sun Dances EP out at the moment, but we’ve been talking about getting an album done this year when we can all find the time to do it.

Dave: How are things going with Round Dog?

Fraser: Going good! Getting back on track again after a bit of a shitter of a year last year thanks to losing a bunch of money. We put out a 45 song benefit compilation at the start of the year called Round Dog’s Choice Nugs Vol.1, then we put out Paper Rifles from Edinburgh’s debut album The State Of It All and my acoustic Trash Sessions EP last month. We’ve got a couple more things coming out in May and June that I’m really excited about. We’ll be announcing the details of those soon.

Dave: Going back to The Murderburgers, how do you think your songwriting has evolved over the years and what have been your main sources of lyrical inspiration?

Fraser: I like writing more weird structures, a lot more lyrics and a lot less choruses these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chorus, but there’s definitely a talent to writing one that doesn’t get boring or incredibly annoying when repeated a few times, and I think I lack that, so I try to write a strong melody for the whole song instead. I also have a short attention span, so I guess the weird song structures come from having a short attention span but writing longer songs. I just like seeing where the songs end up instead of sticking to the whole verse-chorus-verse chorus thing. Plus, writing songs like that drives the other members of the band insane when they have to learn them, which is pretty entertaining for me.

My ever decaying mental health, general lack of understanding of how anything works and my terrible luck have been the main sources of lyrical inspiration over the past few years, and were sources that I was occasionally tapping into even back in the really early years of the band. That’s when I was taking time out from unsuccessfully trying to re-write Screeching Weasel and Queers songs. As I mentioned earlier, mental health problems like depression and anxiety can be so fucking exhausting and confusing at times. I find that whenever I get a grip on one thing that’s causing problems, another one comes out of nowhere and I have to try and find ways to figure that out as well. It can be relentless. Writing and recording songs about all of that shit then having fun playing them live is a good way to get something positive and productive out of all the exhaustion and confusion. I remember watching an interview with Legs McNeil where he talks about how Joey Ramone always took the shitty things about life and celebrated them and turned them into something good. That’s something I always try to keep in mind.

Dave: A bit of a deeper one here. As a Scottish punk band, to what extent do you think that a sense of Scotland is evoked in your lyrics?

Fraser: Scotland is a beautiful place, but I find I always get a lot more writing done during the winter which tends to be more depressing and crushing than anything else, so I guess there’s a sense of the not so finer points of Scotland evoked. It seems to be a common theme in a lot of Scottish band’s songs. We definitely have more grey days than sunny ones. I lived in Edinburgh for 5 years which is hands down my favourite place on earth. I wrote both These Are Only Problems and 12 Habits when I lived there, hence all the references to parts of the city on both albums. I actually decided to change things up a bit and moved to Manchester when I got back from tour last September, but don’t worry. It turns out moving a couple hundred miles south doesn’t mean that it’s not still bleak as shit most of the time, so the songs will keep coming.

Dave: I love the video for “December Ruined Everything”. Where did the idea for that come from?

Fraser: Jim from Pizzatramp became my punk rock son like a year ago. Every now and then I’d send him things in the mail like cards or little presents. Admittedly, the whole thing was and still is kind of weird, and I don’t think his actual dad is that big a fan of it. We joked around about going for a father/son day out, then figured shooting a father/son day out video would really up the weirdness. The depressing ending was shot right at the last minute on the day and wasn’t originally intended, but it definitely ties the whole thing together, otherwise it would make even less sense

Dave: So, finally, what are The Murderburgers’ tour plans for the rest of the year?

Fraser: We’re touring Europe in May with Wonk Unit around some festivals, then we fly straight to Canada after that to tour with City Mouse leading up to Pouzza Fest. After that we’re touring the UK in July leading up to Wonkfest, then in August we’re playing Rebellion Festival and Punk Rock Holiday, both for the first time. Then we’re touring the UK and Europe in September/October with City Mouse for like 33 days or something. So much for a quieter year this year. All fun stuff though!

 

Check out the Murderburgers here: https://themurderburgers.bandcamp.com/

Check out FUCK! (It’s Pronounced Shit!) here: https://itspronouncedshityouidiot.bandcamp.com/

Check out Fraser’s acoustic EP and the rest of the Round Dog catalogue here: https://rounddogrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fraser-murderburger-trash-sessions-ep


 

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