Erupting out of the Merseyside scene, The Wicked Whispers are truly an act to look out for as they conquer the psychedelic rock movement with warm organs, crisp vocals and a perfect sound image. Following up from their critically acclaimed debut album, the psych band have been hard at work in their two year absence to deliver the catchy single ‘If I Set You Free’; an addictive track that validates the bands ambitions for writing a nuanced and innovative sound.
Gigsoup contributor, John Gittins, had a chance to chat with Mike Murphy (vocals/guitar) of The Wicked Whispers to discuss previous music videos, the resurgence of psychedelic rock and how the band have grown closer since their debut release.
The music video for ‘If I Set You Free’ is full of negative colours and trippy backgrounds, separated only by the band’s white silhouettes and outlines. It perfectly mirrors the impeccable concoction of guitars, bass and drums, with crisp and memorable vocals cutting through the mix. Have you any more video ideas lined up with a more narrative subplot?
We have done 5 more elaborate video’s to our previous singles. ‘Amanda Lavender’, ‘Dandelion Eyes’ ‘Voodoo Moon’ ‘Chronological Astronaut’ and ‘Maps of the Mystic’. A couple of those we very much story based (Voodoo Moon in particular, it was a huge production), so we have purposely moved away from this for the videos for ‘If I Set You Free’ and ‘Zodiac Girl’. The new video, for Zodiac Girl, will be dropping soon and will be the first of all our videos not to feature the band at all.
Two years after you released your debut album ‘Maps of the Mystic’ to the sounds of rave reviews, ‘If I Set You Free/Zodiac Girl’ shows no signs of uncertainty and faults that so many bands succumb to on their sophomore release. What helped keep you grounded, and enabled you to stay focus on your own innovative style?
We always focused on the arrangements very closely but as a songwriter I have always only delivered what I think is the best material suitable for The Wicked Whispers with a lot of pre-production and demo work first. Then it’s just a case of working the music around it. Previously however I arranged everything but this time on our new Double A-Side the band worked collectively on the music so I think after a few years of being together and me not pre-arranging the music, we have become a solid unit who can interpret all our ideas and belief in making the best end product. No stone goes unturned and it feels like being in a band for the first time, full of excitement!
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Arguably there has been a resurgence in psychedelic rock music with the likes of Tame Impala, Heron Oblivion and an array of underground bands forming a movement. Did you have any influences you found yourself listening back to more and more between the release of ‘Maps of the Mystic’ and ‘If I Set You Free’?
In truth for the first chapter of The Wicked Whispers, and being 60s Psych obsessed, we really did make a statement with it and led a resurgence for the genre in the UK. But after the debut album we purposely wanted to change the sound slightly and grow as a band. This was important for us. In doing so I found myself listening to a broader range of genres again like I used to. There are no brand new bands that influence me to be honest but I would say I’ve been listening to more modern Americana. I’ve always loved Beck, Odelay in particular and Allah La’s have a great sound. Think they are both a couple of examples of what I had in mind when writing the double A-Side.
Given the sudden rise to popularity in the likes of Blossoms do you think the limelight is swaying towards a more indie and rock orientated premise?
I think Blossoms moving more into Indie Rock was a tactical move to win over a wider audience which was great for them and they’ve done fantastic, fair play. For us what we play is a real passion but I guess we have been a bit more conscious this time of reaching a bigger audience and the songs are more direct and digestible in arrangements and style. ‘If I Set You Free’ got a Radio 1 spin very quickly so making radio friendly music has to be factored in if you want to progress in the industry. Were moving slightly away from the level of psych we were, only because we’ve done that in our career and we are progressing onto other sounds and vibes, but there will always be great songs behind it. I think it’s important to keep changing and make it fun and interesting. We are still only grass roots level really despite some minor notoriety so we are seeing how this new material goes down and who knows what the future brings.
What have you been up to in the two years from your last release, and do you intend to keep us waiting just as long for your next release?
The last 2 years since the debut LP we spent time debating how to move forwards, then started working on the new material in our own time where it felt fun and organic. There has been a tour and a big Liverpool event called ‘The Butterflys Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast’ which we organised and played during this time too. I had some things to deal with also away from music and also moved house too so I’d say 9 months of that time is a blur to me. We have the next release ready to record and have been in pre-production session and going into the studio this November to lay it down. It will be out early 2017 and won’t be away for as long this time!