The little story of The
"Our acting teacher made us do all these humiliating vocal exercises
that sounded like, `Murrrr ... Murrrr ... ,' " Grody said. "We mocked
it all the time and started doing it all the time between songs to clear
our throats. It was too sick not to make it a band name."
As luck would
have it sometimes, it's in New york, at the end of the 80's, more
exactely at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts that the roads of
together and have involved the two friends in the incredible musical
adventure of The Murmurs . Though it was not love at first sight :
actually didn't like each other at first," Leisha laughs. "Heather
thought I was really serious, and I thought Heather was really flaky, so
we didn't hit it off until about a year into school."
But once they
started hanging out, the two soulmates found themselves a special
interest in music and songwriting and what was at first just something
fun became a devouring passion and began to consume them after
school time. With some friends, who were all alumni of the same acting
school, they rented a condemned building on the Brooklyn side of the
Williamsburg Bridge, and started up what was called the "Open Window
Theater Group". The Murmurs debuted at an art exhibition and party
staged by this troupe: "We wanted to have live music at the theater's
opening, but we couldn't afford anything. Leisha and I had some musical
experience so we did the music ourselves."
finally began to perform music in East Village clubs (district of
Manhattan, known for its folk or punk-rock bars, its funky coffeehouses
, its experimental theaters and its hip shops) and done some informal
performances in local parks and subway stations: "We didn't make that
much money and the cops chased us away all the time!" Heather laughs.
It didn't take
long for the Murmurs to make an impression on the local music scene. The
obvious personal and musical chemistry existing between Leisha and
Heather, their catchy melodies and their passionately humanistic lyrical message inspired by their
personal concerns, their energy on stage, their spontaneity and
extravagance, their sense of humor and selfderision must have been
certainely the reasons why.
just started to realize that we were in a position where we could speak
to all these people, and that we should take that responsibility
seriously," Leisha recalls. "We're not claiming to have all the answers,
but we definitely feel like we can be an example."
"We don't really
have any specific message," Heather adds. "It's just about being real,
being true to yourself and following your dreams. We're not perfect and
we're not politically correct. We're just human and open minded."
In 1992 they
released their first album,
Recorded independently over the course of a year (between june 1991 &
august 1992), they pressed 2500
records and sold them all at their gigs, mainly in New York City, but
also in Texas (where they have friends), Nebraska (where Leisha's from),
New Mexico--Santa Fe...
and I usually write the basic song together. Then we do the rest
separate and collaborate in the end," Leisha says.
By this time, a
lot of record companies had taken notice of the acoustic duo and more
and more producers were showing up at their gigs. They sign to MCA
Records in 1994. The same year, they release the self-titled album
(more than 75,000 copies sold), an intoxicating cocktail of songs about
love and life with sweet creamy harmonies.
Leisha sought to capture the spontaneity and spirit of their live
performances with a clean, immediate sound based around their voices and
"We added bass
and drums in the studio, but we kept it mainly acoustic," says Heather.
"We felt that it was important to get the feeling of our live shows on
co-producers Roger Greenawalt,
sweetened the mix, adding subtly delicious layers of piano, cello, oboe,
mandolin, saxophone, even ocarina and Uilleann pipes on top of Heather
and Leisha's acoustic guitars and vocals.
Between 1994 and
1997, those two passionately fond of live music concentrate on touring,
performing alone or with other artists like
Lightning Seeds, Sweet, Joe
Jackson, Adam Hunt or Bush.
In 1995, The Murmurs record a
new CD, "White
is a cover version of the 1960s classic by Jefferson Airplane.
this opus also contains a
completely re-recorded versions of "Carry Me Home", "Venom of Violence"
and "Shadow Quinta Mix", which was written by the murmurs in the
bathroom of the La Quinta Hotel during a concert tour!
Although they started out as an acoustic duo, the Murmurs added some
extra crunch to their sound for their 1997 release "Pristine
Leisha and Heather swoped their folk guitars for some electric ones and
also hooked up with two regular musiciens: a bassist,
and a drummer,
Besides the duo, based in New York until now, has moved in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, despite the
presence of eleven great tracks (yeah ! nothing less !), this new album
doesn't meet with expected success. So, in 1998, MCA Records decided to
release a new CD called "Blender"
in agreement with The Murmurs. An appropriate name for this CD because
it contains a blend of new material ( hits again !)and songs from the
New album, new challenge :
"Writing with new people
turned out to be a whole new spin for us," enthuses Leisha Hailey,
"Heather and I have such chemistry together that we don't have to say
much. When you wirthe with someone else, you really have to communicate.
Everyone has a different way of approaching it, and when you get four
people in a room, you have a whole new experience."
Comparisons with The
Go-Go's (groupe de
légende des années 80) are inevitable and for a very good reason, the Murmurs
with formers Go-Gos
"It was like writing with
legends," insisits Heather. "They were huge pop stars when we were
teenagers." Leisha agrees, "We were nervous, but then we saw that the
way they interact with each other was just like me and Heather! It was
exciting and surreal, and we learned so much."
"Jane and Charlotte, we look
at them like Heather and me," Hailey says. "They're the same. Two
friends, bickering. They actually had a little fight in front of us - a
funny one. 'Charlotte that sounds like…' 'No it doesn't!' (laughs) We
were like, 'Wow, it's us!' They're so neat, and we've written a couple
other songs with them as well. They live in L.A., so it's been easy to
hook up with them."
This isn't to say the Murmurs
don't bring a recognizable sound of their own to the material, which
were partly produced by
"She is the most grounded and
down-to-earth person," Leisha insisits,"We love the songs k.d. produced
because she's not always behind the console, she's an artist and knew
exactly where our music was coming from."
Heather grins, "Yeah, she came
right into the studio with us and danced around!"
Other songs of Blender are
produced by Matthew
produced No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom). Working with him also brought some enlightening
"Besides writing "Misfit"
with Matthew, it was the first time we had ever worked with samples,"
Heather explains, "and that opened a whole new door for us. We started
coming up with tunes off the samples he would create, and that stretched
us a lot. He understood that we wanted to sound bigger, but not
overproduced. Big enough to be big, but still be able to play it on
Stage is exactely what's the
most important for the duo. This year 1998, The Murmurs embarked on the R.O.A.R tour - Rock Out Against Rage-
designed to take a stand against domestic violence. All the proceeds
went to local women's shelters in every city they played.
The duo' s involvement can be
attribuared to how domestic violence changed Heather's life: her mother
was killed by her own husband ("Sleepless
writen about it).
The murmurs are very big on
doing any event for women's causes:
"It's important as women
artists to support any cause that will be beneficial to women. I think
it's extremely important to give back in that direction." Heather says.
From this point of view, they
toured with Lilith Fair in 1999. Founded by
this tour featured
female musicians only, and at each Lilith Fair venue, one dollar for
each ticket sold was given to a women’s charity in that community.
Some artists that performed at the 1999 Lilith Fair were: Sheryl Crow, les
Dixie Chicks, Indigo Girls, Queen Latifah, Dido, Nelly Furtado, Suzanne
Vega, Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin...
girls support as well the gay and lesbian's cause by playing for exemple
at a GLBTA-sponsored concert, or in different events like the Dinah
Shore Weekend ( and his famous female golf tournament, fans of The L
Word, does it remind you of something?...)
Our two girls have no problem
talking about being gay, and they agree that the important message to
send is that sexual orientation is not an issue:
"Coming out publicly, we never
really felt like we were coming out, because we never felt like we were
in," Hailey jokes. "We never felt like we were closeted and then had to
make this big announcement. So we've been very lucky. It's never really
been an issue to us nor has it affected our career in any sort of
By the end of the 90's, some
changes have been brought about, first in the group:
Leisha: "We started as an
acoustic act nine years ago in New York. It was Heather and me from the
beginning. Then we moved to Los Angeles and went electric. We got two
Sherri and Sheri,
who were our original members. They no longer are in the band. Now we
have three guys behind us. Our band sort of evolved over time. Brad
Caselden plays drums, Dave Doyle plays bass and Bill Appleberry plays
keyboards." Heather adds, "We’ve recently been writing with the guys."
photo: Copyright ©
Steven J. Adam
secondly, regarding their
"We were at MCA for five years
and our contract was up, and we could have stayed, and they could have
renewed the contract, but we decided we'd rather jump off the cliff into
the unknown to see what was going to happen to us. To stay there would
have been to us just reliving the same story. We just thought, 'let's
take a risk and see what happens,' and it's been nothing but positive."
"I think we've grown up a lot in our writing - it feels that way at
least," Leisha says. "I think we're writing about deeper things, and the
music sounds more mature for some reason. I also think not being on a
record label right now, it's taken off the pressure of, 'write the hit,
write the hit,' and then you try to write and you're always thinking
about writing that perfect pop song. It's taken the pressure off of that
and allowed us to write about what we want to write about, and it's more
personal. Not that I don't think 'Blender' has songs like that, but our
sound is definitely evolving."
Leisha: "We try to have fun
with our music, and the most important thing to us is our live show."
Heather: "We've learned to be
content with ourselves and not let anxiety hold us back. The people who
come to our shows should know that it's all about having fun. our sound
changes and keeps evolving. It keeps getting bigger and bigger. We're a
lot more free now."
After many shows given in all
the country, the musical adventure of The Murmurs ended at the beginning
of the year 2001, but certainly not the friendship which binds Heather
had our rocky times. But when you become friends with somebody, it's a
commitment," Heather says. "It's being available as a friend, and it's
being forgiving and being forgiven. Friends are the most important thing
you could ever hope for, and for Leisha and me, it's very much family."
"Because the Murmurs
originally stemmed from best friends doing something for fun, it's sort
of been what we always look back to," Leisha adds. "When it feels
serious and so scary and feels overwhelming, we just look at each other,
and it's like, 'Oh my God. We're still doing it.' "
"Even when times get tough, it's always, 'Well, at least I'm not alone
in this,' " Heather says.
"I don't think it would have
ever happened," Leisha concludes, "if it wasn't together."
Back to the top
Released independently in 1992, the Murmurs made
Released independently in 1992, "Who
was only sold at their gigs.
1. City lights
2. Wastin time
7. Venom of violence
8. Game player
9. Lonely man's shoes
10. Doesn't mean anything
12. Mother and son
13. Can't hide
14. Make love not war
15. No longer stranger
was Leisha and Heather's first album release under a major record label,
1. Bad mood
3. Wastin time
5. Carry me home
7. You suck
9. Ticket to zen
10. Bumble bees
11. All i need to know
12. Beautiful peace
Named after a 60s song by Jefferson Airplane, 1995's "White
was the next CD released by the Murmurs. It also contains a live
recording of their cover version of the title track.
1. White rabbit
2. Carry me home - chex mix
3. Shadow - la quinta mix
4. Venom of violence
5. White rabbit - live
Partly produced by k.d. Lang, 1997's "Pristine
was the debut of bassist
With this new opus, the band also moved from acoustic to electric.
1. Big talker
2. I'm a mess
5. About nothin'
7. Squeeze Box days
8. Don't lie
9. Sucker upper
10. The country song
11. Sleepless commotion
is composed of some songs from 1997's "Pristine
and some new material. It's
also the latest album The Murmurs released.
1. La Di Da
2. I'm a Mess
3. Big Talker
7. Don't Lie
9. Sucker Upper
10. Country Song
11. About Nothin'
Songs performed live, but not recorded:
What's wrong with me?
One and only
Another thorn in my side
Come and go
Let me down
Half as good (reprise par GUSH)
Soundtracks and Compilations
Saturday morning cartoons' greatest hits
(1995 MCA) : H.R. Pufnstuf
Sountrack All over me (1997 TVT) :
Squeeze Box Days
Sabrina the teenage witch: the album
(1998 Geffen): Smash
Soundtrack The L Word (2004 Tommy Boy):
Smash is performed over the lunchroom
scene from the movie Never Been Kissed
starring Drew Barrymore
According to the following publications:
Murmurs Sing It Loud And Clear -
February 17, 1995 - By Jae-Ha Kim
- Chicago Sun-Times
RAD Copyright © 1995, Rational
MCA Records 1995, 1998 (Pamela Des
ACOUSTIC DUO MURMURS TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
- Joey Guerra - Daily Cougar - Vol. 60 -
TWN ISSUE DATE May
The Incredibly True Musical Adventures
of the Murmurs - Dian Katz - Lesbian