Eastwood Interview with lead vocalist George Murray
By Harsharan Hoonjan
Eastwood are a band with an effervescent style of music that uplifts, soothes and makes you want to throw some shapes on the dance floor! Their sound instantly grabbed my attention; I wanted to find out more about the band.
On reading up about Eastwood and their history, I was moved and decided to visit 13th Note for the second time in 48 hours to catch them.
I managed to catch up with George from Eastwood for a brief introduction and overview of the band and here’s what he had to tell me:
Hi George, thanks for agreeing to this interview with me for Voice of Scotland, can you give us a bit of background information about your band Eastwood?
Thanks very much indeed. Well the drummer Stuart and I lost our wives to Cancer. Over a period of 4 years for me and Stuart lost his wife a year and a half ago (please visit the link at the bottom for more on this moving story). We both played in bands for years, different bands, but we’ve come together now and again. Then my friend Liam who is the keyboard player, opened a recording studio in Dunfermline and I had all these songs that I wanted to record and I wanted to do a fundraising gig for Ovarian Cancer Research and Sarcoma UK which is the Cancer that Stuart’s wife had. We decided over a period of 6 months to record the album and then we played a sold out gig in Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall (which holds 512 people) and raised over £6000 for the two charities! (Fantastic!).
Basically I went in the studio, Stuart played drums, I was on the acoustic guitar and he did the drums in two days actually. Then we brought people in, we brought in Gill Alan who is plays bass, a guy called Ali Ferguson who plays guitar. Ali also plays with Ray Wilson and stiltskin, he’s done gigs all around the world, so Ali decided to come on board and put the guitar down (exciting stuff). We kind of made up a band with Liam as keyboard player and co-producer of the album, so that’s where we are just now. We did another fundraiser last week for another cancer charity. We raised over £16,000 which was in partnership with another group of people.
Tonight we are helping out a good friend East Coast Defector, they asked us to come and do a gig. Money made from CD sales and our contributions toward ticket sales are going towards the charity. (All the money from music sales and gig money will go towards the Nicola Murray foundation and to Sarcoma UK on behalf of Ruth Henderson)
You’re doing fantastically well; you’ve raised lots of awareness and a load of money for your charities!
It’s brilliant, it’s been quite a healing process, we’re all good friends anyway and tonight actually we’ve got a guy called Stephen Fraser here who plays in another band with the guys, he’s helping us out, so we’ve got this pool of musicians who will come and help out when we want to do gigs. We want to do more, we want to do another fundraiser next year and we’ve sold over 500 copies of the album! (Absolutely brilliant!) People are beginning to enjoy it and wanting to see us more live so that’s the kind of next step, you know playing in the pubs! *laughing*
How are you finding gigging so far?
This is only our third gig together and the first gig in Glasgow but between us, we’ve been in bands for 20 years, (you can tell from listening to them) we have been up and down the country playing. So we were just laughing tonight going, ‘We did all this 20 years ago and here we are again’. A couple of us are in our early 40s. This is brilliant we’re “living the dream again,” carrying our guitars around!
Yea the whole writing process was, I had a few songs already, I actually wrote four while we were recording. Because things were coming up in my life and I just wanted to document them, so some of the songs I‘ve had in the bag for a couple of years and some are new. And then you’ve got the rehearsals. We spent a lot of time on the album and it’s quite polished but we’ve got to go play live. We rehearsed for about 6/7 weeks before the big gig and we put a lot of work into it, we’ve all got full time jobs and that’s the other thing, some of the members are family men as well so it’s kinda fitting round everything and doing the gigs that we enjoy doing.
There are 14 tracks to this album, that’s quite a number; obviously you’re quite dedicated to the cause and to this journey. How did you manage it?!
Well actually I was on a career break, the year that we recorded the album, so that helped me a lot I could spend a lot of time on the album and time with Liam and Stuart in the studio, Liam is in the studio full time so that was easier to manage. If I was to do it now, it would be difficult. We do have a few songs in the pipeline for a potential second album.
It’s all self-funded; I’ve set up a record label as well, to self-release it.
You have your own Record Label…
Through PPS and PPL you’ve got to register as a name so we decided to set up the company of ‘Round Face Records’, so that’s what it’s released on. It’s all exciting stuff because, you know, we’ve not done this for years but before you know it you make demo tapes and try and sell them at gigs, make your own t-shirts and go back to that kind of way of doing things. *Laughing*
It’s come together quite easy because we know each other quite well. We have our moments as guys do, as musicians do! You know, we all have disagreements but it’s been healthy.
As a band you’ve bonded quite well?
Oh yea, we’re all very close friends, I was at school with Liam, so I’ve known Liam since I was 13 years old and I’m 21 next week! *laughing*
Fantastic to hear, with the album charting your journey; there are some songs on your album that are very moving, any that you are particularly proud of?
Yea there are some songs that are really personal. ‘White Feather’ being one of them, I wrote that when I was feeling really down with what had happened. It’s really about the last days of having cancer and working through that, that was played in Carnegie Hall and I don’t think we’ll ever sing that again (have a listen to hear why) think that will be it, we won’t do it tonight!
There’s another song, ‘Try My Best’ which we will do tonight, which is all about continuing and to keep going, a lot of people can relate to the songs. If you know someone who has died from or suffered from cancer or any situation which is horrendous in your life, you can maybe look at some of the lyrics and the songs and say well I can relate to that and get some sort of peace from it. I’ve played this song enough that the emotions are still there but I can control it more. The gig at the Carnegie Hall was tough because that was a healing gig and there were amazing responses from the people, family and friends, they rallied round, it was brilliant for all of us. It kind of closed a little door and it was like, right lets go on to the next chapter.
It wasn’t the band’s intention to help inspire others but…
If that happens that’s great…it wasn’t a motivation for us, I can see why people can pick that up, the songs are very personal to me, people have come up to me and said, this song has really helped me as this is my story. Its nice people have got some comfort from it. The prime objective wasn’t to do that, it was to raise money for the charities but it’s just a bonus that that can happen.
There are some songs in the album that don’t mean anything; it was just a little pop tune that needed some lyrics! People have been looking into the album and have come up and said, ‘well what’s this song about?’
‘Nothing really! It’s just a word that rhymed with that!’ *laughing*
That’s very commendable and your family and friends have been quite supportive in the process.
Oh yea, there’s a good team round us all actually. Now Stuart and I have come closer together. We’re all daft as brushes to be honest and we’re at that stage where we don’t care anymore, always playing practical jokes on each other and having a laugh!
From having fun to producing Features…
‘We were on Radio Scotland and had a feature on STV’
It was a valuable experience, really good; they did features on me and Stuart from the angle of losing wives and raising money for the charity. It was brilliant that they got that out and we got a lot of ticket sales because of it, it was really quite good. We do want more radio play; we want people to listen to the album.
We haven’t got another gig planned, we do want to do another either Carnegie Hall gig in Dunfermline or another gig that will hold 150/200 people.
I want to promote a lot more now; I think the album should be heard by people
I think it’s a bit different from what’s going on these days, some pop songs in there and some are really quite profound. People have told me it’s an enjoyable experience from start to finish, they can get a lot out of it, so we just want to try and promote it as much as possible.
Do more gigs like this, doing 40 minutes is ideal, just go on, enjoy ourselves, and come off
It’s quite different to doing a 4 hour wedding, which is a real job, this is different and it’s fun!
Any tips for bands or musicians starting up?
I think the thing is to be you, don’t try and manufacture music or think about what other people will like. Just do what you do; because that’s what we’re doing, we’re just coming and playing songs, if people don’t like them we’re not that bothered. If they do like them, brilliant! I think there are a lot of people that are manufactured these days with your x factors and things like that. I’m not a guru of music or anything like, I’ve just been playing music for years and been touring and so it’s all new to me. What we’ve found is our attitude is so simple, laid back and if success happens it happens but if it doesn’t we’re not going to get stressed out about it because we’re all still doing what we love – playing music! Having a good time as well!
Thanks George on behalf of Voice of Scotland
The Eastwood boys played a blinding set; it looked like they were having a great time, as were the audience at 13th Note! The guys took to the stage as if they owned it, total professionals at work! They played numbers for you to dance to, sing along to and reflect to. Their music is inspiring, uplifting and definitely moving. I loved hearing a few of my favourites ‘backbone’ and the heartfelt ‘try my best’, I really wanted to just dance in front of the stage! These guys are artists that deserve as much attention as they can get. Eastwood’s journey is one you have to hear about and read about! I think everyone should invest in their album and see them live at least once, you will not be disappointed. It will be an investment you will not regret in more ways than one.
For more information, to hear a taster and to download Eastwood’s album, please visit: