He’s known mostly for his stint as guitarist in the Celtic Tigers, the Irish house band at Mulligan’s on the Blue. But Murray Thorne is about more than just jigging to bangers and mash.
For the past few months, Thorne’s been in the studio recording licks for his new solo album, set to be released by the end of the year. The notion that the album is rock-based is surprising for Celtic Tigers fans.
Ten years ago, Thorne left Vancouver and moved to Maui, initially to live in a tent in a friend’s backyard and help build a studio. As it happened, Thorne overstayed his visa, and lived precariously as an illegal alien for years.
In 2000 he married his wife Valerie, who was from France and, coincidentally, a permanent resident. Thorne was granted temporary residency.
When Mulligan’s on the Blue opened, they gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“All the Guinness you could drink and free dinner,” Thorne said, laughing. “It just started as a drunken joke, just something I do on Sundays. But the Celtic Tigers and their popularity became—I call it ‘The Phenomenon.’”
Thorne kept writing his own songs. At first, he planned on an acoustic record because he didn’t want to put a band together. But it was a stop-start process. It became an obsession. In the end, he decided that he needed band.
“I would never have gone into the studio to record,” he said. “But I knew the most famous engineers and milked them for info. I started recording at home, and I started realizing, hey, it looks like I’m making a record. I had no idea exactly what I was doing.
“People would see me rock out ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ and ask me about my CD, expecting Dropkick Murphys,” he continued. “But that’s not all I do. [The Celtic Tigers] is fun—but it’s not an honest representation of me.”
His own style is acoustic-based rock music, and Thorne says he once heard a person say it reminded him of David Bowie, which doesn’t displease him.
In the mid-to-late 1980s, straight out of high school, Thorne played with touring hard rock bands and opened for acts like Nazareth, Loverboy, Eddie Money and The Tragically Hip. By 1990, when he was in the Canadian one-hit wonder band Raymond May, he opened for Aerosmith and Iggy Pop.
“When I came here, I listened to stuff relevant for songwriting,” Thorne said. “Everything from obscure British bands to Dylan. It sounds corny, but a friend turned me onto his lyrics, and he’s got such a way with words and humanity—it’s not topical—and everything rhymes. I got into folk music because of that. I tried to be folk… but I’ll be rock and never escape from that.
“The Beatles are my cornerstone,” he contnued. “They’re timeless. If they were a movie, they would be The Godfather. There’s something humanely fundamental about them.”
He also loves The Killers, Muse, Tom Petty (“Now there’s a guy who can take acoustic music and make it rock!”), Radiohead, REM, Coldplay, Pink Floyd, White Stripes, Pearl Jam, Frank Sinatra, Steve Earle, Mott the Hoople, Midnight Oil and, yes, U2.
“What I like about Irish music is that lyrically they’re hardcore,” Thorne said. “It’s all about human nature and suffering, all wrapped up in something fun to listen to. And I love U2; they’re appealing across the board. Bono as a lyricist really cuts through the BS. Now I don’t want to emulate that sound, but that mindset.”
With the CD in its finishing stages, and Thorne making his best efforts for distribution, he said his biggest obstacle is tackling demons with promoting himself. But any obstacles that he faces are merely cementing his drive to create music true to him.
“I’m gonna make what I want,” Thorne said. “I don’t care what anybody thinks.” MTW