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Viva Phx Q & A: Murrieta

viva phx, viva phoenix, arizona music festival, arizona events, phoenix, live music, interview, band interview, downtown phoenix music festival, phoenix new times, stateside presents, chris cox, jeremy gratil, murrieta

Formed in 2010, Murrieta is a six-piece folk band from Arizona. The group released A Head & Hand on Feb. 4 and will likely share some tracks from the new release when it performs at 8 P.M. on March 7 at Hard Rock Cafe for Viva Phx.

Read The Spec‘s Q & A with Chris Cox and Jeremy Gratil…

Chris Cox – Guitar

Very first concert you attended and a memory from it.
The very first concert I remember attending was a Jimmy Eat World show at Mesa Amphitheatre. It was, I believe, my freshman year in high school and I went with a huge group of friends. One memory I have from it is while we were crowd surfing one of my friends lost his shoe and it got thrown on stage. The Donnas were playing at the time and decided to keep it. He never got his shoe back! Serves him right for crowd surfing during The Donnas though, I suppose.

If you could have any musician (dead or alive) as a mentor, who would it be?
This is a tough question for me because I believe I would choose different musicians to mentor me in different ways. Musically, I would love to have David Gilmour from Pink Floyd spewing all of his knowledge onto me, while I suppose in band management terms I believe I would choose Jesse Lacey from Brand New. Gilmour because he is one of the greatest guitar players ever and Lacey because I love that he has been able to be a part of a huge band with great success, but at the same time control it and continue pursuing other interests in life.

Very first concert you played and a memory from it.
The very first concert I ever remember playing was with a band called Five Star. Believe it or not, I was the lead vocalist at the time. We had a few songs down along with a cover or two and for some reason thought we were ready to play. We practiced one afternoon, everyone went home, and then we got a call from our lead guitarist that we had been offered a show at this tiny little pizza place that night. Our drummer couldn’t make it, but we decided to go ahead and play a full-electric set without a drummer. I think there was a Yellowcard cover song, and maybe a Dashboard Confessional song. It was a mess, the whole experience is a memory I will never get out of my brain.

Artist you would most like to collaborate with or have produce your music?
I think for me, an artist I would love to collaborate with or have produce our music would be Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra, Right Away, Great Captain, etc. That guy is a songwriting machine and probably shows more emotion through his songs than about any artist I know. Either him or Teppei Teranishi from Thrice.

Personal truth that fans would be surprised to know about you.
I am deathly afraid of spiders. If this comes back to haunt me, I will hunt you down.

How do you spend a typical day when you’re not touring or busy recording?
I am currently a full-time student at Arizona State University, as well as employed by Mesa Public Schools. I’m a school bus driver for them, so sometimes when I get a bus with a CD player on it, I get to brainwash the kids with our music. So the basic rundown is: wake up at 5 A.M., go drive a bus, go to school the rest of the afternoon, or if I don’t have class go back to work and take all the monst…uhh, children home. Then I usually play with my English Bulldog and hang out with my wife, or do homework in the evening. Super suburban and exciting I know.

One artist or album you could never get tired of listening to?
There are a few artists I probably really wouldn’t get tired of listening to. One of those bands would be Lovedrug, minus their album The Sucker Punch Show. The alternate version is quite a bit better than the original, but still their weakest work from my perspective. Their albums Pretend You’re Alive and Everything Starts Where it Ends are absolutely amazing though. I get a lot of inspiration on the guitar from those albums, particularly the latter. I will go with either them or The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me by Brand New. It’s a toss-up really.

Earliest music-related memory you have?
I don’t know where to begin with music memories, but I will go with one that I can remember pretty well. My mom would listen to “Steel Bars” by Michael Bolton sometimes when I was younger, and for some reason I really took to that song and enjoyed it. However, I also associated steel bars with candy bars in my mind. I have no earthly idea why, but I can tell you that. Looking back, candy bars are much cooler than steel bars are anyhow. Anyway, I learned all the words to the song and would beg for my mom to play it in the car so I could sing along. Go ahead, I know you all want to go look it up now if you don’t already know the song.

Nicest thing a fan has ever said, or given, to you?
I don’t really recall anything having been given to me by fans, aside from the occasional awkward (nice) side-hug, but plenty of people have had good things to say. It’s hard to really pinpoint an exact thing, but it’s always nice to hear how much they love my guitar solo on “The Contest” or “Casters.” I don’t really even think I’m very good at guitar when I listen to other people play, but that’s always nice.

Interesting fact about your newest release.
One thing most people don’t know is that I totally messed up how “Purging Tree” was supposed to be recorded. There’s a part where Jeremy’s organ switches to piano, and I was not supposed to be playing. Unfortunately, nothing but drums and acoustic guitar were recorded when I went in to do my part so I was very lost and just ended up recording all of that. We came to the general consensus that it actually turned out way better and the parts lined up perfectly while all being a mistake.

Xperience you will never forget.
An experience I will never forget…getting married. Does that count or were you looking more for something along the lines of within the band? Well for that I will never forget our recent CD release show we just had on Feb. 7. We sold all of our tickets, asked for more and sold all of those, then still had over 100 people pay at the door to get into it. It was amazing the amount of support we got. I’ve recorded before, we’ve recorded before, but this was the first time I have ever done a full length and put it on iTunes, so the whole experience has been really amazing.


Jeremy Gratil – Keyboard/Percussion

Very first concert you attended and a memory from it.
My very first concert was Jimmy Eat World and The Movielife at Mesa Amphitheatre when I was 12 years old. I remember being right up against the security barrier watching Jim Adkins and thinking, “This. I want to do this.”

If you could have any musician (dead or alive) as a mentor, who would it be?
If I could have any musician as a mentor, it would have to be the epitome of class: Frank Sinatra. That man knew what he was doing and he did it well.

Very first concert you played and a memory from it.
My very first concert was in the ninth grade when I had just joined an already established band as their keyboardist. We practiced only once together prior to this and played a Battle of the Bands at Mesa High School in the middle of their lunch period. I was a student at another school and had to arrange for a ride to sneakily pick me up to make it to this show. Not only did I get away with sneaking out of school, but we also won the Battle of the Bands too!

Artist you would most like to collaborate with or have produce your music?
I would love to collaborate with either Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra or Jesse Lacey of Brand New. Both of their lyrics and overall musical style has grown so much over the last decade — I would love for an opportunity to pick their brains in studio.

Personal truth that fans would be surprised to know about you.
Haha, I have no idea! I’m pretty much an open book. Maybe they’d be surprised to know I’m partially a robot due to the permanent metal plate in my ankle?

How do you spend a typical day when you’re not touring or busy recording?
This is going to sound like a boring answer to many readers out there… but I work full time for a software company that develops tools for small businesses. I’m a huge business nut and I absolutely love it there! Besides that, I like to paint and find the dinkiest hole-in-the-wall restaurants to eat at.

One artist or album you could never get tired of listening to?
One artist I could never get tired of listening to is Justin Timberlake –– I’ve especially loved the two albums he’s put out this last year. If I had to choose only one album to listen to for my entire life, however, it would definitely be Brand New’s Deja Entendu. Hands down the best overall album released in the last 20 years.

Earliest music-related memory you have?
I’m not ashamed — the earliest music-related memory I have was getting my own personal CD player for my eighth birthday accompanied with the Backstreet Boys debut album. (And before you ask, yes — they are better than N*Sync.)

Nicest thing a fan has ever said, or given, to you?
There’s not really one particular occasion that comes to mind, but I always love to see an excited fan come up to me and just talk! Taking pictures and signing autographs are fun, but there’s no better feeling than hearing from someone’s own mouth about how much they can relate to your music and how much they listen to it.

Interesting fact about your newest release.
Our newest CD A Head & Hand, was just released on February 4, 2014. An interesting fact about it is that there’s a little-known, three-part story told between the songs “Casters,” “The Outlaw,” and “Purging Tree.” Those three tracks combine to detail the story of the life of the infamous Outlaw. “Purging Tree” tells of the Outlaw meeting his old childhood friend, who now so happens to be the Judge sentencing him for his crimes. The song is an exchange describing the completely opposite experiences they had in their lives because of the paths they choose.

Xperience you will never forget.
An experience I’ll never forget comes from our recent CD release party held last month. Being able to have Mat [Shaker] (our singer) step away from the mic and still have the crowd carry on the vocals entirely by themselves was an amazing moment. To me, it was a huge indicator of our success and the result of years of hard work in really developing our sound and becoming who Murrieta is today.

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