Michigan's Major Murphy make their own appealing version of heartland rock, rooted in indie styles but flush with big hooks, harmonies, and warm melodies. The band, who've been backing up Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield recently (you may have seen them with her on Jimmy Kimmel Live recently) will release their sophomore album, Access, on April 2 via Winspear. They've just released a new single, "Real," which starts off gentle and ethereal before turning into a crunchy, shoegazy, widescreen jam. Watch the video, which makes great use of stock footage, below.

We asked the band to tell us the influences behind Access and singer, guitarist and main songwriter Jacob Bullard gave us a list of 10 things, some being music (Waxahatchee, Courtney Barnett, more), some being things with which to make music, and other things that simply inspire the creative process. Check out his list, complete with commentary and pictures, below.


1. Silt Fence:

001_Major Murphy, Silt Fence

I found this discarded piece of silt fencing on the sidewalk and was compelled to pick it up. I was initially struck by how there was a subtle colorway/design pattern in it which seemed interesting to me because of how it is a utilitarian and disposable object. I carried it around for a few years and at some point started thinking about how it might make a cool album cover. Imagining that cover really was the beginnings of the album and carried me through the process in a lot of ways.

2. Road/Construction signage:

002_Major Murphy, Construction Signs

In a similar vein to the silt fence, I found myself being drawn to the atmosphere and aesthetics of public spaces and construction sites. I think there is something very literal in the way that the word “access” correlates to these settings and that very literal element was an interesting juxtaposition to the more metaphysical side of “access” I was also exploring in the songs.

3. Critter and Guitari synth:

003_Major Murphy, Synth

This little synth was given to Jacki and I, and I have found it to be very inspiring. It not only opened me up to being more interested in synths in general, but it’s simplicity also helped me explore and connect to melody and harmony in new ways. It is on the record in a few places and I really love the raw, kind of “dial tone” sound that it has.

4. Waxahatchee, “Out in the Storm”:

004_Major Murphy, Waxahatchee

This album made a big impression on me when I heard it. I was in the early stages of writing material that would end up being ACCESS and I was thinking a lot about music from my teens and wanting to have more of an alternative energy to the record. When I heard Out in the Storm, it made a lot of sense to me and seemed to be right on that wavelength.

5. TOPS, “Dayglo Bimbo”:

005_Major Murphy, TOPS

This song was also very formative for me in terms of taste and where I wanted to go with the sound of the next record. I remember around 2008-2009 getting into bands like Beach House, School of Seven Bells, and Sigur Ros. This TOPS song took me back to that in a way that felt very fresh. I loved the immediacy of the song and how it was different from a lot of other TOPS stuff. The whole record is really great.

6. Becoming a parent:

006_Major Murphy, Becoming A Parent

In September 2016 Jacki gave birth to our son. Being able to accompany Jacki through that 9 month journey and be there for Benji’s birth was an extremely formative experience. In preparation for his birth we took a 6 week class that was based in the Hypnobirthing technique. Through all this I was being exposed to the practice of meditation as well as a lot of information about the power our minds have and the mind/body connection. It was very inspiring.

7. Flowers:

007_Major Murphy, Flowers

We moved into a new apartment in May of 2018 and planted/grew flowers outside. It felt therapeutic and they really brought a lot of life to the yard. I think slowing down a little and taking the time to watch something germinate and grow is powerful. That was also my experience with becoming a parent. It is really a miracle that anything exists and I found the way that flowers persist, often through a lot of inclement conditions, to be inspiring.

8. Courtney Barnett, “Tell Me How You Really Feel”:

008_Major Murphy, Courtney Barnett

This was a really inspiring album for me for similar reasons to the Waxahatchee and TOPS records. It really fucking rocks and that was exciting to hear. Lyrically it was touching a nerve with me in terms of trying to get to the heart of things while dealing with a lot of anxiety.

9. Kero Kero Bonito mix CD:

009_Major Murphy, Kero Kero Bonito

A few years ago our friend and Winspear executive, Ben, gifted us his old minivan. As a young family it was really essential. With the van came Ben’s CD collection and this KKB mix was on rotation for nearly 2 years straight.

10. Octavio Paz, “A Tree Within”:

010_Major Murphy, Octavio Paz

This is a book Jacki had picked up in her travels years before we met. I had read it quite a few years ago but as we were wrapping up ACCESS an excerpt from the poem, “The House of Glances” came back to me and we have included it in the vinyl packaging and in the newsprint piece, “ACCESS Guide.” I think it really sums up a lot what I was trying to say in the songs in a much more articulate way than I could myself.

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