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Murrah himself brings up a food analogy. "I was told that in the north of Scotland there's a place where they invented the deep-fried Mars bar and they also deep-fry pizza and there are people there that are proud that they have never eaten a fresh vegetable in their life," he says. "That's the same attitude as what is going on at the club. They want an '80s night, they think hip-hop should go on, and I think that shit should have died 20 fuckin' years ago. It's like that old saying -- they don't know what they like, they like what they know. People don't like to take chances."
Which brings us back to Robb Walsh. "People don't want to be educated while they're out drinking," he says. Phan has come to see the wisdom of that statement. "That's a really, really good way to put it," he says.
But Murrah won't compromise on that score. It's a misconception to think he books only things he likes and likes things only he books -- he hated A.R.E. Weapons, for example. (For the record, Jagi Katial booked Stuka, though Murrah had final say-so.) But what is a valid point is that he'd never sign off on some profitable tried-and-true staple to draw people in.
Some people do get what Murrah does. "I walked into the Gap one day and this girl walked up to me and told me my club was fucking great," Murrah says. "She said, 'I go in your club and I hear music that I've never heard, but I go every week. Then a couple of months later, I hear it on our "in-store alternative tape" here at the store.' She told me how great it was to be able to go out and hear stuff before it was deemed cool."
But those people are apparently too few and far between here for clubs like Murrah's to work. Still, he won't see Stuka as a failure, even though it didn't last a year.
"We did some great shows, got some shows in there that no one else would have ever touched," he says. "Some things happened that I've been trying to make happen for a long time. And when I started out, I wanted it to be a place that you either loved or hated, and for whatever reason a lot of people hated us. I guess it's 'cause I call a spade a spade. People may ridicule me -- call me an asshole or whatever -- but who brought bands like the Faint and the Rapture here?" He points to himself. "Daddy."
And he's right, and Houston needs Murrah. His abrasive attitude keeps the scene on full boil, and since when was attitude a sin in the rock and roll business, especially when you've got the goods to back it up?
"There's great people out there pushing forward, and there are some local bands that I think are halfway decent, but that's the problem -- there's no place out there for these like-minded people to meet," Murrah says. "And there likely won't be until another investor comes along with more passion for music than sense."
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