Count Vaseline is the new project from Stefan Murphy, formerly of Dublin rock ‘n roll miscreants The Mighty Stef, and The Count is bringing genre-warped garage sounds to Newbridge, for an intimate and special Broken Home show.
It was a dark day for Irish music back in May, when time was called on The Might Stef. Always a prolific tunesmith, it wasn’t long before Murphy introduced his new guise Count Vaseline. Falling somewhere between raw garage rock and crooning fuzz-pop – sonically a different being – the new project remains draped in his unique and intuitive storytelling ability. There’s already a debut LP, Yo No Soy Marinero – a genre-warped record that fizzes with energy, invention and brimming with weird and wondrous ideas, and full of heart – with album number two, Cascade to follow in December.
In support of his new endeavour, Count Vaseline has been playing shows across the US and Ireland, and this Saturday, December 3, he rolls into Newbridge town, for an intimate and special Broken Home show, with support from the Tallaght folk machine We Went Down.
Ahead of the weekend’s show I caught up with Count Vaseline, to chat about the new project, touring and all things music. Check the album below too!
Tell us a little bit about ‘Count Vaseline’. Where did the name come from? And what is the essence/inspiration behind the new project?
CV: I liked the idea of taking a title of Nobility and pairing it with the name of a cheap household product. I think a ‘count’ is the most mysterious of all titles and have always been a fan of Dracula and the Count from Sesame Street. I was looking for a pen name to hide behind for a while after The Mighty Stef and for now I feel comfortable in this. I’d already been writing new material when the time came around for TMS to call it a day, so I began to collect and collate this material so I could come out of the traps fast with a record or three.
After so many years working as ‘The Mighty Stef’, has the change been challenging and/or has the new project freed you up to explore different paths than was previously possible?
CV: Definitely the latter I would say. Although TMS was varying in its sounds and ideas there was a common ground for the songs. So far with the Count, I feel like it’s been more extreme. Extremely personal, extremely lighthearted and extremely dark etc. Anything goes and I’m treating every song like a piece of disposable art and focusing on making them reflections of a passing idea rather than crafting them to be monuments to the human condition.
Songs/material don’t seem to be an issue, not only has the output been stellar but it has been prolific. Is this material you’ve been working for some time or have you been invigorated by the new project?
CV: I cycle to my studio in Atlanta a number of days a week, past the vast ‘Turner Field’ home of the Atlanta Braves, through gentrified neighbourhoods and those that are soon to be and I listen to my recordings and song sketches to see where I am in my writing process. I find the long hard hilly cycles help me with my absorption of the material. Then I sit down at my desk or my drum kit and I see what comes out. I’m using day to day levels of inspiration to guide me and it’s working.
What has been the biggest change and challenge, musical speaking, with Count Vaseline?
CV: I suppose not working with other people. I’ve played everything myself and done most of my shows solo using a backing track. I miss touring and playing with my friends but I have enjoyed the challenge of learning how to do it all by myself…. I’ve a long way to go but I don’t mind.
Newbridge has always been a place to embrace your music, are you excited to bring the Count Vaseline show to the town?
CV: Possibly the most excited I’ve been for any gig. There is always a warm welcome there. Really looking forward to it.
On the issue of touring, you done the length and breadth of Ireland many times so it would be interesting to hear your perspective on touring Ireland. What has changes (if any) have you noticed during your career/biggest challenges/positives?
CV: Last year with TMS we went out on a 30 date tour of Ireland with The Strypes. It was very educational. It was the longest Irish tour I’d been on. There is a huge appetite and appreciation for all kinds of music in every nook and cranny of this island and across all age groups. Coming from Dublin you often feel like Dublin is the world. It’s not, by any stretch. It’s hard to book a tour in Ireland sometimes because small venues in small towns don’t want to saturate their punters but it’s a challenge worth tipping away at if you are up and coming.
What can people expect from you at the Broken Home show in Newbridge, and elsewhere for that matter?
CV: They can expect an orchestra of one, with the aid of some minor technology trying to interpret his recorded material in a way that will strengthen the bond between he and the audience. Also I’ve been playing a few covers of my old group and Leonard Cohen,
What’s in the pipeline for Count Vaseline over the course of the next 12 months?
CV: More touring. A covers album. And then maybe a shitload more albums. I’ll also be developing my tape label OCDC and releasing records for a number of other acts. Lastly, I’d like to join a band and tour as a guitarist or bassist just for a new experience.
Born from a frustration at the lack of a suitable live music venue in Newbridge, The Broken Home is a series of intimate living room concerts whereby people experience musicians, their songs and their shows in a wonderfully relaxed and intimate atmosphere.