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Revisit Cillian Murphy's experimental pre-fame band 'The Sons of Mr Green Genes'


Cillian Murphy wasn’t always destined to become a world-famous actor. For a while, he planned to be a professional musician, and in a sliding doors moment, one of his bands, The Sons of Mr Green Genes, were even offered a record deal.

When he was growing up, the Irishman balanced both ambitions and was unsure about which one he wanted to follow. While he undoubtedly made the right decision given how excellently his career has gone so far, that’s not to say his band weren’t also extremely talented and could have made a success of it. Having said that, their experimental sound wasn’t exactly a recipe for mainstream superstardom.

Murphy was the rhythm guitarist in the group, and they took their name from a track from Frank Zappa’s album, Hot Rats. When the actor looked back on the group with BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, he admitted: “We were obsessed with Zappa when we were kids.”

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Looking back on the band in the same interview, Murphy said: “Do you remember like the sort of early-mid-90s, when acid jazz was a big thing? That was a big influence on us. I think being in Cork in Ireland, we were probably a bit late to the party with that sound”.

He added: “You remember bands like James Taylor Quartet and Corduroy and Galliano, all those bands, we were kind of into those bands and then combining that with Zappa and a lot of funk and soul and that kind of stuff. So that’s what we were listening to, and then that really influenced the sound. You know, there was a lot of instrumental music and a lot of excessively long guitar solos and stuff.”

Murphy was in his late teenage years when the band were active, and Acid Kazz offered them a five-album record deal, but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the group. “We were offered a deal, and it didn’t work out,” he told Lamacq. “So that was the end of the dream.”

Following “the end of the dream”, Murphy threw his heart completely into acting, and luckily, it all worked out. Unsurprisingly, he has no regret about his decision to follow this route, and he’s also glad the industry didn’t deflate his passion for music. He added: “It’s such a treacherous industry. With all the lads that I was in the band with, we’re such good friends now, and I don’t know if that would have actually stayed the case if we had been put through the jaws of the music industry as youngsters.”

Coincidentally, at the same time as Acid Jazz offered Murphy the deal, he’d also earned his first significant part in a play, and he chose the latter. After the group snubbed the contract, Murphy made the life-changing decision to put his childhood dreams of being a musician on ice in favour of acting, and he’s never looked back. 

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