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James Murphy Is Finally a Free Man

The former frontman talks closing the chapter on LCD Soundsystem and looking forward to what's next

June 3, 2014 11:05 AM ET
James Murphy
James Murphy
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner

"I feel like I just had a giant baby," says James Murphy. Three years after his trailblazing dance-rock band played its final show ever, he's released a live album documenting that night, The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden. "This was something I care about a lot," says Murphy, who's currently in the midst of building a new studio in Brooklyn and just starting to think about his next move as a musician. "So I wanted it to be right."

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When you listened to the final show, what did you think? Did LCD Soundsystem end on a high note?
No, we didn't. We didn't really get to play a sound check. I was rushed. I was angry. I had blown my voice out, because I had added four shows beforehand. So I was mad, and a little hobbled, and I think that was good — in a way, fighting against all that stuff was a better representation of our band than if everything had been absolutely perfect and we had a perfect show. I don't think we did, but I think we had the right show for that time.

Did it feel like the band wasn't really over while you were working on the live album?
It was like a fucking zombie — but, like, a happy zombie. I think that it's only now that we're all realizing that we're not on a break between tours. I saw Nancy [Whang, LCD's keyboardist] the other day, and I was like, "Oh, right, we're not waiting for something." It's strange.

How often do you hang out with the rest of the band?
I've been out of the country for a bunch this year, so I haven't seen them as much as I like. I see Nancy and Pat [Mahoney] the most. Pat has kids and stuff, so I don't see him all the time, but he lives in the neighborhood. I saw Nancy last night. Matt Thornley moved to L.A. I haven't seen Gavin [Russom] in awhile, but he's been working with Matt in Crystal Ark. I see Al [Doyle] when I'm in London; he lives in London. Tyler [Pope] lives in Berlin; I haven't seen him at all. But we stay in touch. Like, we see each other the normal amount that people who are friends see each other.

Was there ever a point where you wondered if it was a mistake to end the band?
I've never had any doubts about that. What was looming was either make something terrible, or make something willfully obscure, or become bigger — and none of those were all that enticing. So it felt pretty good. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss it. There are times when I miss it a lot.

Like when?
I'm a really competitive guy, so if I go see a show, and I'm like, "This sucks, we could kick this band's ass," I get all mad and aggressive. Or sometimes I just miss playing with everybody a bit. Now if I have ideas for songs, it's like, "Oh, I've got to make this song myself. If I make some songs, what's that?" It's a little weird.

Do you have any cool production gigs lined up for this year?
No, none. I don't really like to do it too much, frankly.

I was going to say, once you've remixed David Bowie and produced an Arcade Fire album, what's left on the bucket list?
I'm just not that interested, typically. I'm not that compelled to make people's records. If I have that amount of time, I would most likely prefer to make my own. If I'm going to dedicate that much time and work, I tend to want to be the person that could make it sink or swim.

How inspired do you feel right now? Are you in a good creative zone?
I feel pretty good. Things come to me quite easily, and they make me laugh, which is always a good sign. I feel kind of light-hearted and full of stuff… And I'm starting to make music again. It's really pure, in that I have no goals for it. I have no idea where it's going to go. I'm just a person making music again, which is a nice feeling. Right now I'm just writing little bips and bobs here and there, just pieces. I don't know — I should be more exciting and say it's going to change the world. That's what people say now, right?

Some people, yeah.
Yeah, I'm going to change the world. It's going to blow your mind. [Laughs]

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