A Sunday Conversation With Hugh Morrison

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Coming from Scotland my musical “ahh haa” moments have mainly been from UK based bands. There have been quite a few, the first Stone Roses album was huge for me, then there’s the early Pogues stuff. Rum, Sodomy & the Lash album sticks out. From the States, I’ve always liked Steve Earl, I borrowed his “painted her name on the nose of my plane” line for my Dance Hall Girl song (cheers Steve). Bob Dylan is a genius too!

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Mostly it’s the melody first, I have a stack of short video clip song ideas on my phone waiting to be polished into full songs. (now on google drive in case the phone packs in 😊). Then I find a theme that fits the mood of the melody, that’s usually when the lyrics start. When it flows it flows, I never sit down and say I’m going to write a song today, something needs to stir me first. That’s what seems to work for me.

Who has influenced you the most?

Many folks, but without doubt number 1 was a world class folk musician and songwriter called Jed Marum, sadly we lost Jed in May 2018 but we performed relentlessly together and each of his songs are a masterful work of art. He always had pointers for me on how to make the most out of songwriting from musical dynamics of the song, to choice of lyrics, rhyming and expression.

Also, I once saw a video from Sinead O’Conner where she was talking about writing & recording songs and she was saying the only way to do a song justice is to ‘own the song’, every aspect of it. That was really interesting to me and I think about it often when writing or learning new songs.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Everywhere, I’m currently living in New Orleans and there is so much here to inspire a musician its incredible. The people, the history, the culture. The quality of musician here in town is outrageous. I love going to shows as a fan & not a performer. There is so much talent here I’m always humbled when I get to play a few shows myself. 

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

I mentioned earlier I’m from Scotland and that’s never far from my music. The Celtic thread runs deep through most of my music. When I got to 20years away from Scotland I wrote this song which came about from thinking of all the things I missed from home. “Old Scotland” is my call to take me home one day, whether its by the “high road” or the “low road”.

Where'd the band name come from?

Birth certificate via Willie and Diane Morrison 😊 (my dear parents back in Bonnie Scotland)

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

Braveheart 2

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Most likely “Old Scotland” (mentioned above), I had like 6 verses written and trimmed it back to 2 for the album.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

I remember playing this show at Rudyards in Houston a few years back. My good friend Johnny Rioux (Street Dogs) had put together a project called the Compound Family where we used acoustic instruments to do Americana/Folk versions of punk songs. One by one the musicians just walked off the stage during the set. Guitar player was in a ZZ Top costume, sometimes I think I shoulda worn a costume too 😊

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

It’s the fun part of music, getting to experience the joy of entertaining friends, who hopefully appreciate what you are doing.

What makes a great song?

Hook and a memorable chorus!

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

It was a dirge called ‘Hugh Martins Lament’ thankfully things have improved since then
(I think😊)

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Proud, can we say fond instead, I think my song ‘Life Can be Short’ I have a certain amount of fondness for. ‘Old Scotland’ too for obvious reasons mentioned above.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

There’s a fellow from Glasgow called Gerry Cinnamon who writes great songs, no airs or graces just hard hitting songs that we can relate to!

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Vinyl’s or CD’s (old school here, maybe even cassette)

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

Beer, but in moderation…whisky = sausage fingers (that’s how my fingers react on fretboard or keyboard after whisky)

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

My hometown is currently New Orleans, so check out Peaches Records on Magazine St

What's next for the band?

Working on a new project/EP called ‘Iron Roux’ with Cajun warlord Beth Patterson. Also have new tunes I’ll probably start demo-ing later in the year!

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Dear Waveriders, I humbly request you take a listen to my new tunes. Album is called ‘The Other Side’ streaming everywhere, I think. Support the indie musicians whenever you can and dear Ripple Effect thanks for the great questions!