NEPA ideal venue for Governing Mule

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First Posted: 9/15/2014

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre music scene can surely stick a feather in its cap when a band from out of the area now refers to NEPA venues as home.

“We’re from the Lehigh Valley, but more and more, we’re considering ourselves a Scranton band,” drummer Bill Caufman proudly admits.

Caufman and his band, the Bethlehem-based Governing Murphy, will play a show on Saturday, Sept. 20 at O’Leary’s Pub in Scranton, along with NEPA favorites Grace’s Downfall. For Caufman, any gig in The Electric City is a great time.

“We’re just so highly accepted out there,” Caufman said of the area’s audiences. “Scranton really has big support for original music, and the Lehigh Valley does not. The Lehigh Valley has the big three cover bands that we get down there – UUU, Go Go Gadjet, and M80, who they bring in all the time. Those are the bands that get the attention in the Lehigh Valley.”

Caufman said he has noticed a trend in NEPA toward showcasing original talent, and his band is more than happy to oblige.

“More and more clubs there, and more and more people are going out and supporting original music,” he said. “As time goes by, we’ve really been considering the area home. It’s great to play there – I wish every place was like that.”

Governing Murphy was born in 2012 when namesake members Wally Govern III, the band’s lead vocalist/guitarist, and guitarist Ron Murphy started as an acoustic act. They decided they needed a full band to flesh out their sound. That’s when Caufman was recruited on drums, along with bassist Ringo Short (Short’s since left the band, making way for new bassist Andy Stewart) and an “incredible bond,” as Caufman puts it, was formed between the four members. Unlike many bands starting out, Governing Murphy was intent on original material from the start.

“We were all in separate cover bands,” says Caufman of the individual Governing Murphy members. “Ron wanted to focus on writing his own music, so that’s when he left his cover band and started to recruit all of us,” the other three founding members of Governing Murphy sharing Ron Murphy’s vision of new, original music.

Governing Murphy has since released a five-song EP called “Mirror,” that showcases the band’s high-octane, no-nonsense rock ‘n roll attitude. Their music is tailor-made for taverns – with a sound recalling “Too Fast For Love”-era Motley Crue with a garage-punk ethos that drives the crowds crazy, solidifying their reputation as a top live draw. Ironically, for kick in the pants this EP brings, Caufman says his band can do better.

“We ended up with a studio that didn’t do it justice, and then another studio to try and fix it, so the audio recording itself we’re not really too proud of,” he said. “We’re actually going to redo it using another studio and make it into our first full-length album later this year.”

Governing Murphy can also soon be seen on the small screen, as the band recently shot its first proper music video in Western PA in August – a project that Caufman is excited for fans to see.

“We wanted to make it like those old videos on MTV, where it’s like a three-minute movie,” explains Caufman. “The video is for our song ‘Succubus,’ which is a female demon that comes to steal your soul through ecstasy, so that’s what the video is going to be about. We’re taking the footage that was shot from the concert we did out there and combining it with the concept video all into one song.”

Speaking of live performance, what can we expect from a Governing Murphy gig?

“You get a rock ‘n roll show,” Caufman said. “It’s dirty rock ‘n roll. Just the fun we have onstage; we’re laughing, we’re smiling – you take one look at the pictures of us, and you say, ‘These guys are having fun.’ It’s like that offstage, too. We all go our separate ways when we’re not playing or rehearsing, but we’re constantly talking to each other. If people could see the emails we send to each other, it would be a best-selling book.”

There were some winners, as far as Governing Murphy live shows. The band has been on the receiving end of some serious accolades, racking up awards like the “Best Rock Band” nod from the 717 Music Awards, and multiple nominations from the Lehigh Valley Music Awards. The band was even included in a pool of several acts from the Lehigh Valley for a Grammy Award performance consideration in Los Angeles. There are a few high-profile shows that top Bill Caufman’s list, however.

“The show we opened up for Buckcherry,” he said. “It was sold out, and the crowd was there for Buckcherry; completely non-accepting. To hear 2,500 people yelling for one more song when we got done, I just couldn’t believe it. I think we all looked at each other like, ‘There’s no way that just happened.’ We sold out of our merchandise as well. That night we felt like rock stars – we were even treated that way by Buckcherry. They watched our show in the balcony, and the drummer told us that we were the most intense band that ever opened for them. That was incredible.”

There will no doubt be more memorable shows like that one. Caufman reveals that his band will head West in 2015 for one of his bucket list gigs.

“We got asked to play the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles in May,” he said. “May 28 we’re going out there to play with John Corabi (ex-Motley Crue) and Tom Keifer from Cinderella. That’s been one of my dreams, to play the stage that Motley Crue started on. We’re really excited about that.”

It’s obvious Governing Murphy is in a great place as far as band chemistry. The recent addition of bassist Andy Stewart has played out well. Stewart is a solo musician in addition to her new duties with Governing Murphy, recently releasing her own independent album, “Bass of Operations.”

“Ringo and all of us, we’ll be brothers for life,” Caufman said of his departing bassist. “Andy was a friend of ours who played in other local bands, and she showed up one week at rehearsal to do every song – usually people take forever to learn just a few songs. And, what a different style she brings to it as far as her playing – the ‘plunks’ are fuller, and the texture is unbelievable. It’s as strong now as it’s ever been.”

No matter what happens, and the degree of success his band achieves, Caufman and the gang are in it for the long haul – the love of the music and performance drives them.

“The ultimate goal is to have somebody hear us, and for us to get a record deal or touring gig,” he said. “We want to get out there and play the big shows and have the world hear our music. Even when we pick up just one fan, that’s huge for us – because it’s somebody new that likes our music. We’re doing it for the pure love of music, that’s just it.”

Caufman is so ardent about his band’s abilities he issues a challenge to would-be attendees of a Governing Murphy gig. He knows the spell his band can cast over a crowd.

“One shot,” he asks of the concert-goer. “Give us one show, and you’ll come back.”