Steve 'Metal Murph' Murphy was an enduring figure on the Texas metal scene throughout the mid 1980's to mid 1990's. While still a teenager in 1985 he founded Eldritch Rite, a progressive thrash band. One German fan recently proclaimed Eldritch Rite one of the most underrated bands in Texas metal history. That's quite a compliment considering the wealth of talented bands emerging from Texas in the 1980's. The band splintered after the release on their only demo in 1986. Soon after the demise of Eldritch Rite, Murphy took over bass duties for Rotting Corpse. He occupied that position for the next several years and recorded two demos with the band: Fuck It, It's Only Thrash in 1987 and Neck Breaking Fury in 1990. Look for samples from the Eldritch Rite demo and both Rotting Corpse demos in our Audio department soon! During his time with Rotting Corpse, Murphy also fronted Process Revealed. Britain's Kerrang magazine described their first demo as "progressive, kinda psychedelic Power Metal with lots of weirdness." High praise from the notoriously picky mag. Process Revealed recorded a total of five demos during their tenure, with a steady evolution towards a more hardcore punk sound with each subsequent release. Recently, Rotting Corpse's frontman Walt Trachler has announced his intention to finally record an album with the band and go out on the road. Murphy's participation is not known at this point, and as the owner of a successful IT company, Murphy's metal days may seem to be behind him. Somehow I get the feeling that he'd love to strap on the Rickenbacker one last time and hit the road with the Corpse. Many thanks go out to Steve for this very informative interview and for sharing his personal collection of pictures. Check out the Rotting Corpse and Eldritch Rite galleries here! Also, be sure to check out Steve's excellent Rotting Corpse website at www.rottingcorpse.net.
Texas Metal Underground: You were involved in the Dallas/Arlington area metal scene in the mid 80ís with a band called Eldritch Rite. Was that your first band or were you in any other bands before forming ER?
Steve Murphy: Eldritch was the first real band I played in. Earlier I played with Craig Reeves who later formed Process Revealed with me but that doesnít count as a band.
TMU: What year was Eldritch Rite formed? What else was going on in the Dallas area music wise at that time?
Steve Murphy: Eldritch Rite
started in 1985 when I met drummer Ronny Harris, who was into all this crazy
heavy music like Slayer and Metallica. I have him to thank for getting
into all this underground music mess. David joined a short time afterwards
at that point making us a band because he knew a lot of Metallica, Slayer, Nasty
Savage & Celtic Frost. He also had written some originals in the past.
Pretty amazing for a kid who was 15 at the time. This was an exciting time
but we didnít know anyone doing this style of music. We were from the
TMU: Early on, you played guitar in Eldritch Rite. Why the switch to bass?
Steve Murphy: I was awful at guitar and we couldnít find a bass player. I used to call myself an enlightened despot. At that time it was really hard to find anyone into that style of music. One time we auditioned a bassist who was this giant biker dude with straight black hair like Blackie Lawless, many years older than us. He came over to Davidís parentsí house one night. He probably left thinking 'These babies want to play black metal?!'.
Buddy Forsythe (Scythian Oath, Sentinel) sang for
Rite for a short while. How did that come about? Wasnít he based
Steve Murphy: Buddy didnít stay
in the band with us but maybe 2 months. We got his Scythian Oath tape
because we did a fanzine called Cerebral Devastation. We met him in person
at the Mace show when he was playing in Sentinel and we asked him to sing with
us because Chris Orloski the first singer from our demo was quitting to go to UT
TMU: Did Eldritch Rite ever play any shows outside of the Metroplex area? What were some of the other local bands ER played shows with?
The farthest we got was the Tombstone Factory (aka Radiation Dump) in
The Eldritch Rite demo made the rounds in
underground tape trading circles. What was the feedback like? Was it
shocking getting mail from
Steve Murphy: It
was amazing to get mail from literally all over the world - mainly
When Eldritch Rite singer Chris Orloski left the
band and moved to
Steve Murphy: By the time Chris started Gray Matter I had formed Process Revealed so he did some great write-ups for us. I wrote a ton of reviews for him and I think some interviews. I remember trying to add a little humor instead of ďThis sucks because itís not brutally heavy enoughÖĒ Chris was a genius, pure and simple. He had a Mac (Apple) back in the 80ís and was able to do awesome desktop publishing that we take for granted in the Windows world of today. He did all the bio layouts for Eldritch Rite, Rotting Corpse and Process Revealed. I think he even did Watchtowerís demo cover for Instruments Of Random Murder. He also got the zines printed on newsprint which gave it an air of professionalism which the underground scene needed.
TMU: Around 1987 Eldritch Rite splintered into 2 bands: Allied Dominion and The Answer. What was the reason behind the split?
Things are a bit fuzzy on the Eldritch Rite breakup but I think Ronny quit to
move back to
TMU: Did you ever play shows or record with Allied Dominion? How long did Allied Dominion last as a band? Was this around the same time you were joining Rotting Corpse?
Steve Murphy: Allied Dominion never had a practice or even a show but one damn nice bio. I was looking through Gray Matter and Chris did this cool thing where he made the Eldritch Rite logo exploding into pieces and the logos for The Answer and Allied Dominion were created out it.
TMU: How did it come about that you joined Rotting Corpse? Were you friends with the band already?
Eldritch Rite met John Perez and Walt Trachler at the COC show at the Circle A
TMU: The lineup in Rotting Corpse was less than stable. I believe you left and rejoined a couple of times. Any particular reason for the constant changes?
Steve Murphy: Walt is so hard work withÖnot really. I quit after the Dark Angel tour which is a whole chapter of a book - all the crazy shit that went on during that. I have to state I still feel like a schmuck for doing that to Walt but Process Revealed wouldnít have been created if I hadnít (which might not have been a bad thing). Less than a year after quitting in 1988 I started hanging around Rotting Corpse again. I went to see them play and when I rejoined Luke 'Duke' Brewer was playing guitar. Roger had quit and Iím not sure exactly why. Louie Carrizales and his buddy that had played bass for a couple of shows after I quit had moved on as well. Mark Salis Thrasher was playing bass but had to move back to Corpus Christi. Thus I was back. I call this the beginning the Circus of Fools era of Rotting Corpse. Why there were so many people playing with Rotting Corpse is because Walt is like this whirling dervish that is hard for people to be close to for a long period of time. I mean his life is amazing in both good and bad ways. He doesnít do drugs or drink. Heís like a kid who has a million responsibilities all over the country. Hard to describe. He wears kilts with no underwear.
saw Rotting Corpse at the Ritz in
Steve Murphy: It was always chaotic during a Rotting Corpse show. Walter has always been the constant. I remember when I played the Ritz with Corpse during the Dark Angel tour, while we were playing this cute little blonde was tugging at Waltís crotch for several minutes for the surprise inside. He had duct tape covering the hole in his crotch to protect himself. I mentioned that golden moment to him a few years ago and he didnít remember it.
heard many stories over the years of wild, demented things happening at Joeís
Garage and the
Steve Murphy: Tombstone was always a trip. I remember getting shocked so bad by a microphone that I saw blue for what seemed like an eternity. Scared the shit out of me. I never played with Rotting Corpse there but I remember watching them play there. I vividly remember one night when Warlock was playing and they had pyrotechnics. Their roadie (Eddie) would put gun powder in a coffee can and put duct tape over it then light it. He apparently put too much because it blew up and created this amazing smoke storm. We were standing outside and heard the explosion above the music and then saw everyone running outside the club. The roadie got a piece of scrap metal in his gut from the can and had to be taken to hospital. Joeís Garage was a trip as well. Walt ran sound for them 1988 and 1989 so we spent quite a bit of time there and met quite a few bands like Sepultura and Nuclear Assault. Sepultura was the most brutal band I had ever seen live. They had just put out 'Beneath the Remains'.
Corpse played quite a few shows around
Rotting Corpse never played outside of
TMU: How did the tour with Dark Angel come about? Were those the biggest shows Rotting Corpse ever did?
Steve Murphy: I donít think they were the largest - we lost money on the shows. Waltís dad was bankrolling the whole thing and apparently thought he could make some money. If I remember correctly, we just contacted some bands we liked and wound up getting Dark Angel. Itís kind of funny to think about but they were basically pricks (except for Gene Hoglan). We were used to thrash bands being pretty cool to us but they apparently thought they were the shit and had a case of the big heads after releasing Darkness Descends. At the Corpus show, I couldnít find my Rickenbacker bass and almost lost it before finding it packed one of the Dark Angel vans. Honest mistake by one of their roadies I guess?
TMU: Iíve heard rumors that there was label interest in Rotting Corpse at the time? Any truth to that? What labels were showing interest? Any real offers?
Steve Murphy: The one I heard about was Megaforce. This brings up the pure charm and stupidity of Rotting Corpse. Walt didnít want to sign with anyone and get screwed by a label when Corpse was red hot in 1986 and 1987. Ironically, 1990 was when most of the buzz had worn off and no one wanted to sign us when we tried shopping the 3rd demo. I think the best material that Corpse ever did was on that tape.
TMU: Whatís the story behind Rotting Corpse trading a boat to the Pantera guys in exchange for studio time for the second demo? Did this really happen?!
Steve Murphy: This is absolutely true. And I even heard that it eventually sunk on Joe Pool Lake but you would have to ask Vinnie and Darrell about that. Waltís dad had an old boat out in the country and somehow Walt found out that Vinnie wanted a boat, so we dragged the thing to them and recorded the 2nd demo with Vinnie at the mixing board. Later, Walt used some of this money to record about 6 songs with Randy playing drums, no bass guitar.
TMU: Why did Walt refuse to get a new guitar, even when he had to use 5 strings due to a perpetually broken headstock?
Steve Murphy: In a way that yellow ESP was a member of Rotting Corpse. Walt broke it so many times and would glue it back together and add wooden dowels. Good thing we played thrash so staying in tune wasnít important. Darrell and Vinnie of Pantera gave that to him when he was a roadie for them during the early 1980ís. Itís ashamed this icon is lost because if there was ever a Thrash Metal Hall of Fame that guitar should be right next to Kerry Kingís BC Rich!
TMU: The Rotting Corpse practice space was actually a self storage facility, correct? Did you practice in the unit or outside in the parking lot? It must have been incredibly loud!
Steve Murphy: In
1987 we had a practice place over in
last 'official' Rotting Corpse show was in
Steve Murphy: Walt got married and wanted to have a family. Towards the end of Rotting Corpse it wasnít a real band in that we didnít get together and play regularly. Walt might have a gig or want to record and weíd do an emergency practice and do it. I refer to the 1988 to 1990 period of Corpse as the 'Circus of Fools' because that is what it felt like at times. And this made for some amazingly crazy times. I really think we might have played a little longer if Walt had been into it but the Grunge explosion was about to take place and no one would have given two shits if we were playing or not. Things got hard for metal bands back then. When Corpse started Walt had never dated a girl before and by 1987 or 1988, he started dating girls and that energy he once put into the band was going somewhere else. Itís kind of a shame because Walt has so much potential but he tends to piss it away for hot babesÖ.
TMU: During your time with Rotting Corpse, you were also in a band called Process Revealed. Was this an outlet for music you could never do with Rotting Corpse?
Steve Murphy: Definitely. Process Revealed started out an extension of what I wanted to do with some songs I wrote in Eldritch Rite (Pursuit of the Minds Eye, Shriek of the Mutilated) and had hoped to make them come to life with the failed Allied Dominion. Later we evolved into a hardcore punk thing. Walt had turned me onto bands like MalHavoc, Victims Family and thí Inbred. In Eldritch Rite I was still learning how to play the instrument but by the time Process Revealed rolled around I was ready to try my hand at song writing.
TMU: How long was Process Revealed around? How many demos did you release over the years?
Steve Murphy: Process started in Sept 1987 after the Dark Angel tour with Rotting Corpse and ended 1989. After Process Revealed we would morph into a few alternative bands that would eventually merge with the bat mastersons (w/ Craig Reeves). In total we did five demos. Some of the demos are pretty rough - not so professionally produced. The first demo we did had a talking bio at the end which I thought was clever enough to steal the idea from Walter.
TMU: Did Process Revealed play live often? What type of crowd would you attract?
Process wasnít a big draw to be totally honest. Our friends would check
us out and musicians we knew would come see us. Our first year we played
pretty often and in 1988 when Andy TerHaar joined as drummer. Andy was
good at getting shows. We played a few Tombstone Factory gigs and some
sleazy night clubs in
TMU: What other musical projects have you been involved with over the years? Are you still actively playing music in a band or for personal enjoyment?
Steve Murphy: After Rotting Corpse in the early 1990ís I joined an alternative band called the bat mastersons which I did ten times the shows I did with Corpse. It was fun for a couple of years then I quit and eventually got a real job. Around 1995 I started playing guitar and singing and started a band called ultra86 which was a Weezer-type band. That fizzled out in 1998 and other than jamming with friends while drinking beer I havenít done anything to speak of.
TMU: Do you stay in touch with any of the guys from Eldritch Rite or Rotting Corpse today?
Steve Murphy: Itís funny how life works out - Iím still in
touch with the last version of Corpse - Walt, Luke, and Randy.
I bet Luke calls me almost every day to whip my ass.
Luke lives at home with this mom and has recently been on the road with
Walt for Damage Plan and has been jamming in a 80's metal cover band.
Walt drives buses for bands. Randy
is Mr. Mom but still jams in bands regularly. I havenít talked to John
in several years but I still consider him a friend.
Several years ago
TMU: Walt recently announced that Rotting Corpse would be putting out an album and touring this year. Would you be interested in being involved after all these years?
Steve Murphy: Iíd love to record again but I definitely donít have time to tour. Iíd have to buy a bass. Maybe I could find another Curlee. To be honest itís hard to imagine being able to put that kind of energy into it again not being 20 years old. Weíll seeÖ
I got an email recently from a fan
Steve Murphy: Wow, it really surprises me anyone gives a shit about Eldritch Rite. I mean what can you say. Thatís really one of the reasons we play music - to leave a mark. Iíve played in a ton of bands over the years and never released an album or CD. And I always thought that if any of the bands I played in Rotting Corpse would be the one that might be remembered. But itís funny releasing a CD does not make a legend. I have tons of friends that have put out CD's that are now table coasters or resting nicely in the dollar bins of used CD stores. If I knew someone was getting a thrill from the music I played when I was naÔve enough to spend all my youth playing this insane style of music because I was horrible with girls and had no real life - well, thatís pretty cool to me.
The mid 1980ís Ė early
You know whatís funny is that people asked me that same question back in the
80ís. I wish I could dig up an interview but Iím too lazy. I
will say there was something very special going on around that time in
TMU: What are your thoughts on the metal scene (or lack thereof) of today?
Steve Murphy: Iím completely out of it. I might pick up a Harder Beat (local Dallas music mag) every now and again. Or see Lukeís band play but I really have no clue. Dude, Iím getting old.
TMU: Thanks for your time, Steve. Feel free to add any comments or info that I may have left out.
Steve Murphy: No, thank you. Iím afraid I may have hurt my brain thinking about all this old stuff. Time for a new hard drive.