The Hot Seat: Bill Cullen and Brett Murrihy

Published in The Music Network


Bill Cullen, Director, One Louder and Brett Murrihy, Co-Founder, Artist Voice chat about the rigmarole involved in placing secular music in churches.

Seeker Lover Keeper has been embraced as the “Holy Trinity” of Australia’s indie folk scene. Next month, Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby will embark on a unique tour which should enhance their divine reputation. The trio’s Heavenly Sounds national tour will play a string of intimate all-ages shows in churches and cathedrals throughout the land.

The trek is the final series in support of the act’s self-titled Dew Process debut, which entered at #3 on the ARIA Albums in June. Seeker Lover Keeper has since achieved Gold status and a stint as Triple J “Album of the Week”. TMN caught up with One Louder’s Bill Cullen and Artist Voice’s Brett Murrihy, who are co-promoting the tour.

Why have you gone off the beaten track, taking these shows into houses of worship?
Brett: It started to feel like the touring market in Australia has gotten harder and harder and perhaps a little stale. It seems to be taking more to entice a punter to buy tickets, so we wanted to create something unique that gives a great experience to both the artist and the audience.

What were the main obstacles to making this tour happen?
Bill: It took a hell of a lot of work finding the right venues. We’ve been working on it since March. Some were up for it straight away, and there were others that weren’t so easy. One vicar sent us a two-page essay explaining why secular music should not be played in churches, including quotes from the Pope and the Bible backing up his argument. We approached 19 churches in Perth before we found one that was up for it. However, the churches we have chosen have been an absolute pleasure to deal with, and have been really open to being flexible enough to meet our requirements.

Will these be “dry” gigs, or will you be able to buy a beer or wine inside the house of God?
Bill: The gigs will be dry, although all venues are strategically located to very hospitable bars, who would love the patronage of our audiences (laughs). Of course, churches and cathedrals don’t typically offer the infrastructure you’d need for a gig. Brett: Some are surprisingly accommodating, and have three phase power, dressing rooms, pianos and even staging. Others require parking a generator on the street 200 metres away, and literally building a venue within a venue.

Will this be a more costly exercise than a traditional sweep of theatres?
Brett: Ooh yes!

Can you give me a sense of the production equipment you’ll have to bring in?
Bill: The audio gear will have to be absolutely top class to take advantage of the amazing acoustics, and we can’t have massive stacks of PA that would ruin the beautiful aesthetics. The sound system will be distributed right around the churches. The lighting will really focus on bringing out the stunning architecture that all these rooms have. We really want the buildings to be an integral part of the shows. Seeker Lover Keeper were amazing on their last tour, and seriously underplayed doing really small rooms. Seeing and hearing them in these rooms should be stunning.

You won’t be allowed to poster outside the venues. How will your promotion of these shows differ?
Brett: We’ve done the normal street press and poster-runs, but have really focused on an extensive online campaign trying to reach the demographic we are after. We also want to establish Heavenly Sounds as a brand, and aim to do at least one tour per year, so we have tried to build the brand in our marketing. So far, sales are solid, and the marketing seems to be effective.

Bill, when might we see a follow-up to Heavenly Sounds?
We’re talking to a few artists at the moment about the next instalment. It’s too early to say who or when. This will be Seeker Lover Keeper’s last run of dates on this record – they’ve knocked back a fair few festival offers, as they were determined to present something different and special to their fans. The girls will now all scatter and get back to their own projects. Sarah started demoing for her new record just a couple of weeks ago, which she hopes to record early in the New Year.

Seeker Lover Keeper’s Heavenly Sounds national tour starts November 21 at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane. Tickets for all shows are on-sale at Ticketek