We all know what happened when the boy cried wolf, right? These are the fables spoon-fed to us as children to instil a sense of moral grounding – the literary equivalent of a wagged finger, a verbal warning, or just a firm kick up the arse. What we’re left with is a karmic sense of getting what’s coming to us – of receiving back from life what you put in. The story Boy Cried Wolf frontman Wayne Murray has cultivated over his divergent career itself reads like a tragi-fairytale set to the soundtrack of romantic longing.
Formerly the singer of nearly-rans Thirteen:13, whose glistening nostalgia-tinged pop possessed some of the finest melodic refrains of the early noughties, Murray soon found himself – and his band, who were promising much – in a Hansel and Gretel wilderness as the fairytale that should have reached its ever-after moment bruised and blackened into the full-stop refrain of “Nevermore.”
“I had just been dropped by BMG Records,” Murray explains. “The previous two years had been a struggle, and I started the year feeling as though I’d been pulled apart by horses.” However, with Murray’s undoubted prowess as a songwriter, allied with an impassioned vocal style, the story was never going to end there. Having garnered something of a reputation as a performer among his peers, it wasn’t long before a silver lining emerged amid the clouds.
“Being dropped played a big role in what happened to me, so when James Dean Bradfield offered me the chance to play guitar in his solo touring band I was understandably nervous,” Murray recalls of his first encounter with the Manics frontman. “But blisters on fingers of practice later, I was on tour and my confidence was restored. Later the same year, I was asked to play guitar with the Manic Street Preachers at the Xfm ‘Winter Wonderland’ show. I’m convinced the call-up came about after I inadvertently wore a ladies’ tennis top to a live radio session with James for Janice Long,” Murray grins. “James told Nicky Wire on the phone and Nicky thought it was brilliant.”
And so, having gained the Wire’s approval, Murray soon found himself a staple member of the Manics’ live set-up. What for many would have been a happy little niche to fall into, Murray’s creative urge was merely galvanised all the more by the opportunities that came his way.
“Boy Cried Wolf was born out of my songwriting,” Murray insists. “I wasn’t looking to form a band, but I was learning so much on the road [with the Manics] that half my time was spent trying to fit new ideas and directions into new songs and just trying to make sense of it all.”
What happened was a catharsis. With the remnants of Thirteen:13 like smouldering embers in Murray’s past, the singer-songwriter took the experience he gained and threw himself into crafting a fresh perspective that became Boy Cried Wolf, resulting in the forthcoming EP ‘The Firebrand’, which melds the idealism of Murray’s former output with a world-weariness that lends the tracks a certain gravitas that only comes from deep-seated experience…
“‘The Firebrand’ sounded like utter heartbreak, which was perfect,” Murray explains. “The EP is our calling card. What came out of those sessions was a sense of rejuvenation – it was born out of the ashes from manically preaching around the world. I felt I’d pieced something together from the lost Polaroids and moleskin diary scrawls I had gathered and saved for Boy Cried Wolf…”
Armed with such conviction, the resulting EP is a beautifully crafted piece of work and testament to one man’s determination to pursue the dream that, for some, will always be just beyond reach – the fairytale so rarely afforded refuge in a world of unhappy endings. After all, it’s not every day a lyrical legend casually hands you some of his words…
“During the rehearsals for ‘A Journal For Plague Lovers’, Nicky Wire heard a rough-as-fuck live demo of the then-untitled ‘No Comfort From Your Skin’,” Murray remembers of the genesis of one of the stand-out tracks on the EP. “Months later, Nicky presented me with a beautifully presented hand-written lyric sheet. It was mounted on pink card and had a picture of Bob Dylan walking arm-in-arm with Suze Rotolo on the back.
These were the lyrics that became ‘No Comfort…’ And I can’t begin to tell you how much that meant to me.”
And so, having borne the brunt of dislocation and redeemed himself with hard graft, self-belief and ultimately the approval of the seminal performers of his generation, Wayne Murray writes himself another chapter from the remnants of experience, in a tale that doggedly pursues the ever-after with the conviction of a man with more to say and less to prove – for whom his story and his truth are one and the same. For Boy Cried Wolf, the story is just beginning…