Interview with thedwarf.com.au
by Kylie Cox for thedwarf.com.au
The first time I ever saw Jeff Martin play, it was a few years back, with a little outfit called The Tea Party fresh out of Ontario, Canada. Jeff mesmerized and intrigued his fans then, with his astounding collection of unusual instruments and a heavy influence of Indian and Middle Eastern music. Jeff continues to astound us today with his musical expertise and we are lucky enough for this talented man to now call Australia home.
A love for this country, and family commitments mean that in between tours and travels, Jeff divides his time between Australia’s east and west coast, his eldest son living in Perth and his latest addition, a new son born in June this year in the Byron region.
Jeff is just finishing up a tour with his current project, Whole Lotta Love, a celebration of all things Zeppelin, an amazing musical collaboration with Steve Balbi, Simon Meli and Natasha Stuart.
“They were the easiest gigs, great arrangements, and playing with such great musicians of such integrity’, Jeff stated.
Once that wraps up, Jeff will be hitting the road for a solo tour of our vast country, taking in shows in such far flung places as Rottnest Island, Darwin and making his way down to the fair shores of Tasmania.
Jeff plays The Country Club in Launceston on October 19th, and the following night at Wrestpoint in Hobart.
“I love it down there, I wish I had the chance to see more of Tasmania, It’s beautiful,” Jeff shared.
With his vast assortment of instruments and his constant travels and tours, even when travelling light, Jeff is now on very good terms with the airlines.
“I’ll try to keep it a little economical this time,” Jeff said. “But there’ll still be a minimum of 5 acoustic guitars.”
Then its back off to Canada for a few shows with the band that started it all, The Tea Party.
“We’ve only gotten back together for the one tour so far, but it seems the Tea Party is bigger now than it ever was. There’s this myth surrounding the band.” Jeff revealed. “And now amongst the old fans, there are 20 year olds down the front at the gigs. It’s a true testament to the music, it’s timeless rock’n'roll.”
The there’s a very good chance of The Tea Party touring our shores in April or May -and another album in the works. Jeff is building his own studio in Byron, it would be a shame to see it go to waste.
“I’m based in Australia now, so we’d have to do it over here,” Jeff stated.
Jeff has an amazing stage presence and needs to be seen live for you to fully appreciate this mans’ talent. Get yourself to one of his shows and you’ll understand…
For a man that never seems to stop, what does the future hold now for Jeff Martin?
“I have the freedom now, to go anywhere I want. All my career I’ve wanted to make a dark, sexy blues record, so that’s on the cards now,” Jeff revealed.
We can’t wait Mr Martin, we can’t wait.
Rave magazine article…
… about the current Whole Lotta Love tour and future plans with the Tea Party…
Press: Drum Media concert review
JEFF MARTIN & TEREPAI RICHMOND
Brass Monkey- 01/09/11
by Kristy Wandmaker for Drum Media
Tea Party fans are devout – and a little intimidating – and this reviewer has often been encouraged by fans to give them a listen. Tried, but just never got it. Until seeing Jeff Martin live, joined by percussionist doyen Terepai Richmond. A twelve-string acoustic accompanied by a modest jazz-set drum kit – yet with Martin’s use of effects paired with Richmond’s Mary Poppins-like supply of noisemakers, they produced a wall of sound Spector would be proud of. The violent tenderness of Martin’s voice enveloped the room, reaching out with Sad Eyes to give everyone a spine-tingling embrace. Despite being ill, Martin had lost only the tippy-top of his vocal spectrum, imbruing the audience with his ethereal timbre. Tea Party favourites were covered including The Bazaar and a killer rendition of Requiem that managed to weave into a tearing sample of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt. The medleys of You And Me, Stairway, All Along The Watchtower, followed later with Hoochie Coochie Man, Black Snake Blues and Five To One, were phenomenal. Mind blowing tempo and timing changes that drew on his plenary music knowledge and devotion to his craft turned Martin into a human sampler.
Both gents were celebrating the recent births of their sons and Martin kindly dedicated Harvest Moon to Richmond’s, who was only born two days previously. With Coming Back Again [correction: Coming Home], Martin promised to always come home. While the crowd was agog at the thought of The Tea Party possibly visiting our shores, this reviewer
was simply glad to fi nally see him live – to fi nally get it.
Interview – Jeff Martin July 2011
By Shane Pinnegar for RockPit
Last week I called Jeff Martin in Ontario, a few dates into his reunion tour with The Tea Party. Jeff now lives in Perth, of course, and us, as well as the rest of Australia, are extremely keen to see him with the CC Entertainment “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin tribute in September.
SHANE: Hi Jeff, It’s Shane from The Rockpit in Perth mate, how’re you doing?
JEFF: I’m good, man, I’m good.
SHANE: We’re primarily here to talk about the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ Led Zeppelin celebration. Firstly, how did you get involved?
JEFF: The producers of the show, last year wanted me to be a part of it, and finally it came around. One of the producers gave me a ring, out of the blue, and I had the month of September free – I’m over here in Canada doing The Tea Party reunion shows [at the moment], but, you know, I had a really good experience with the producers… I did one show for them, the “Let It Be” concert at the Sydney Opera House. They’re very professional, and Led Zep are just such an amazing influence with their vocals and guitar work on what I do
SHANE: Absolutely, and it seems a very inspired choice to us…
JEFF: Thanks very much
SHANE: You’ve made no secrets of your love for Led Zep throughout your career. We’ve seen you jump onstage with the [fellow Canadians] The Trews at The Indi Bar in Perth [Jeff’s birthday party last year] for a few Led Zep songs. How does Led Zeppelin’s magic work for you personally?
JEFF: Well, I’ve always kind of – what I’ve appreciated and what inspired me from the music has been that most of Led Zeppelin’s music is a bit dangerous, you know? And honestly there is a lot of sexuality in the music as well – male, primal sexuality that is, I mean, that IS Rock ‘n’ Roll. You really can’t go wrong!
SHANE: Sounds like a party.
JEFF: Yeah, exactly! I think that, especially as a young man, before I started writing even, I was very much inspired by music that was dangerous, and Led Zeppelin was really my first experience of hearing a rock band, you know, that approached those tangents. Later, with The Tea Party we certainly tried to take that a lot further, but that was definitely the catalyst for me and the inspiration to do it.
SHANE: Have you started rehearsals yet?
JEFF: No, no – I’m in Canada right now, doing the Tea Party tour… And yeah, the songs that I’ve chosen to do in this concert series, you know, I know these songs at the back of my hand, so it’ll just be a case of “let’s get together in a room with all the musicians and everything and just hammer it out”.
SHANE: Cool. Having seen the show last year I think a large part of the reason it was so magical and just worked so well was that it wasn’t just a bunch of hard rock guys, there’s a real diversity to the talent on show, you know, we had artists from all sorts of genres performing. So does that make – not that you’ve started rehearsals – but does that, getting a group of people like that from very diverse musical backgrounds, does that make it harder or easier to all get on the same page with the music?
JEFF: I’m sure that’s… Again, what I really respect from the position of the show is that the musicians that are chosen, when we get all of them together with the band themselves, these are like, the finest musicians in Australia! That makes it easy for us to just go in and appreciate, sorry, approach the songs in a different way. I do believe that we should have the ability to step up and do it!
SHANE: You never seem to stop working, you know, you’ve got the Tea Party, the Armada, solo work, Jeff Martin’s 777, your production work, and now this… it must be fair to say you’re a pretty restless musically?
JEFF: (laughs) Well, I’m not comfortable staying still! You know, for me, my life is, musically it’s a journey to someplace. I don’t know where I’m going but I know I always have to be going. And so in everything that I do, I’m striving to achieve a great work in my life.
SHANE: Of all the albums you’ve released – and I count something like eleven studio albums, there’s a handful of live albums, at least one compilation – Which comes closest in your mind to Jeff Martin’s true sound?
JEFF: I think if you combined “The Ground Cries Out”, which was the latest record that I did with 777, if you combine that with “The Edges Of Twilight” [The third album from The Tea Party, released in 1995], that would be the closest thing. Kind of like a cross between the past and, you know, the future. So, yeah, very rocky, you know, but so many incredible experiences in my life, and so that’s given me the skills in order to get this massive amount of music that’s in my head all the time and get it out, get it out safely, properly, you know? All that stuff.
SHANE: You’ve worked with a lot of different styles and sounds and a lot of musically diverse people across all of your albums, tours and what-not. On the musical landscape, what is left for you to explore personally?
JEFF: Oh, there’s just so much! In the new year I’m going to do a bit of a sabbatical and go back to places I’ve been already, like Morocco and places like that. Even though I’ve done a lot with fusion – with rock n’ roll and bringing [world music and ethnic instrumentation] music into it – I just want to go away and, it’s about going over there and just… LIVING for three or four months – to just live, be, take it all in and all that and then come back, you know? And then use what you’ve seen. I’ve always had a fair amount of pride and integrity, so when I make a new record, what I’m trying to do, is hopefully better what I’ve done in the past – the past keeps pushing me.
SHANE: And a big trip like that – three or four months sabbatical. Are you taking the family or is that just you off on a pilgrimage?
JEFF: Oh I’ll definitely take the family. I mean, it’s hard enough now that I’m over here in Canada for six weeks, you know, to be away from the family for that long… it’s quite difficult, you know?
SHANE: Oh absolutely.
JEFF: Obviously it’s quite difficult, you know, but in the end it’s just about the music – it’s been a great thing getting back with Jeff [Burrows] from Tea Party and, you know, it looks like there will be a future to the band again and so the sacrifice of six weeks over here away from my family, I think in the long run I’ll be happy with.
SHANE: Well that was my next question, actually, how are things going with the Tea Party guys because obviously there were a lot of heated words been fired back and forth over the years and it did seem very unlikely you’d ever reunite with them.
JEFF: Yeah, well, you know, when I met with Jeff & Stu [Chatwood] in March I was over here with 777 – we were doing a tour of Canada – and the opportunity came for me to sit down for lunch with Stuart in Vancouver, then sit down for coffee with Jeff in Windsor, in our home town and say I have let go of all the bullshit so let’s get back on the stage, we’ll get to a rehearsal room, let’s see if we can find that magic again and if we can, we’ll be smiling at each other through it all and if we are, then that’s all we need, you know? And we’ll just move forward. And we were all in agreement on those terms and that’s what happened. We got into a rehearsal room and I think I made a decision for us to let’s just do it chronologically, starting with ‘The River’. And we started playing ‘The River’ and we just started smiling at each other, you know? It was undeniable, The Tea Party was one of the greatest, you know, great rock bands of the 90’s. And there’s a reason why there was something magical happening there, and its still there. And it’s relevant.
SHANE: You’ve already done a couple of shows, I think, is that right?
JEFF: Yeah, yeah. We did a one-off show, and we played Montreal which was very, you know, a very special place for us and that was a bit of a homecoming and, you know, three thousand people in front of us and grown men crying in the audience (laughter) it was, yeah, it was a big big night
SHANE: Can you see another Tea Party record on the horizon?
JEFF: I’m certainly not saying ‘no’. You know what I mean? Like, you know, that sabbatical that I talked about – that would be part and parcel of if there was to be another Tea Party record because, I mean, we make such massive musical statements that, you know, then I would insist on bettering what we had done in the past. I would have to really dig deep and go to those places in the world and come back and make that better than an “Edges of Twilight 2”
SHANE: Right on. Well, I know a lot of people will be very excited about hearing another Tea Party album, that’s for sure. The 777 tour that you did in Canada, I believe you had our own Gab Lee of [Perth band] Stillfire in tow for some supports on that one. How did those shows go?
JEFF: He was fantastic. You know? Gabriel was up there every single night, he was quite the charmer on stage! Every night just him and an acoustic guitar – I was very, very proud of him, you know? He really stepped up to the plate and he was a great ambassador representing the history and dedication of Perth’s musical tradition, you know? So, it was really cool.
SHANE: Awesome. OK so we’d better wrap up, if you could’ve helped write and perform any one Led Zeppelin song, which would it have been?
JEFF: Which would it have been… uh, probably Kashmir.
SHANE: Nice. And you mentioned earlier the songs that you’ve chosen to sing on the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ tour; are there any surprises in there?
JEFF: Yep, there might be one surprise in particular, you know? Its also gonna be the way certain arrangements come about, things like that, but I don’t really want to let the cat out of the bag, you know?
SHANE: Fair enough
JEFF: There won’t be a Led Zeppelin fan walking away from this not absolutely lovin’ it!
SHANE: No, last year’s tour was just stunning, jaw-dropping, amazing. So, we’re really looking forward to seeing this year’s. So finally, Jeff, what for you mate is the meaning of life?
JEFF: Um… love, happiness, passion.
SHANE: Very nice. Thanks very much for your time, mate. And we’re looking forward to seeing you back in Perth.
A Whole Lotta Love for Jeff Martin
The year 1971 marked one of the best selling albums worldwide. That’s right, Led Zeppelin IV. In September, Zeppelinites will be buying their stairwayto ZEPPELIN heaven, purchasing a golden ticket to a rock event to remember. The 9th ANNUAL WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION.
LED ZEPPELIN is one of the most influential bands in the world and has drawn in a rock legend in his own right. Jeff Martin, known for THE TEA PARTY and his new band, 777. Jeff Martin talks up a Whole Lotta Love with Monique Budd.
‘Hiatus’ is a word not known to Jeff Martin. Currently in Canada on THE TEA PARTY’s reunion, Martin opens with what he’s up to now. “We got together and they have very big shows here in Canada. I’ll be here for four weeks. Then I fly back home. Then I’ve got some producing to do before I start rehearsing for the WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION. No, I don’t have a time off!”
It’s not everyday you get to have Jeff Martin’s undivided attention. I have one question to ask for his devoted Australian fans. Will you be bringing THE TEA PARTY reunion to Australia? “We are in control of our destiny. I’m very committed to 777, which is my new band in Australia and a record we’ve just put out. I’ve got a lot of solo things and producing things to do. I know Jeff (Burrows) and I and Stu (Chatwood) are all anxious to bring the band back over to Australia. It’s just the case of perfect timing.”
The producers of the The 9th ANNUAL WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION have had Jeff Martin in mind for the show for years with scheduling being the main obstacle. Martin explains how he came to join the cast of Australia’s finest rock musicians for the spectacular event. “I did work with the producers, on the LET IT BE show at the Sydney Opera House. I just found them to be very professional to the highest standards. Their commitment to authenticity and they way that everyone was treated. When it was time to come out, the producers gave me a call. LED ZEPPELIN’s music has had a big influence on what I’ve done in the past. It just really made sense to me. It will be fun. Most of what I do, I like. I’m having fun doing it. It’s less stressful. I’m only have to do five songs. I love to go on the road, on tour.”
As mentioned, Martin will be performing five songs. I probed Martin for which of the five songs he has chosen. “When they asked me to do this, they gave me first choice. I picked the five most important LED ZEPPELIN songs to me. I’ll tell ya one of those songs is an acoustic LED ZEPPELIN song.”
The 9th ANNUAL WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION has a stellar rock cast. One would think a duet/duo may be in the works. Martin expresses how he feels about sharing the stage. “I don’t really know, we haven’t really decided yet. The rehearsals are at the end of August. So I’m sure some of the situations will come up, they always do. I’ve always been a fan of collaborating with other musicians, especially out of the blue. I love those things that aren’t really what they’re supposed to be. When I did Rockwiz, I performed with TINA ARENA. Anyone that would of thought that JEFF MARTIN and TINA ARENA could go together; would have shaken their heads. That’s not gonna work, and it did! It was the most successful duet song on Rockwiz. These things can happen.”
Martin recollects his first LED ZEPPELIN experience. “My first experience, it was a dare. It was in my first year in high school. I really hadn’t listen to LED ZEPPELIN at all. I was more into new wave and all that, like THE CURE and ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN. My father instilled me with a good education and a fond appreciation for the blues. I was kind of a blues guitarist, but in the closet, ‘cause nobody knew. If any of my friends found out, that was not cool. I remember my first year in high school. You weren’t cool if you listened to LED ZEPPELIN. You were a stoner with a bad haircut.
This one kid that was a couple of years older than me and he came up to me with a cassette tape. I was this guitar player and I had this reputation. He came up with this cassette tape of LED ZEPPELIN and he said ‘if you’re such a great guitar player you can learn this guitar solo’. I took the cassette home. I listened to it and it was really the first time I listened to LED ZEPPELIN. I liked it! I just thought ‘cause the guitar work, it was just like playing blues but a bit sloppier. I found that there was something kinda dangerous about it. That I was really attracted to. My father came home from work and came right down stairs while I was practising in front of the stereo. Ripped out the tape of LED ZEPPLIN and put BB KING in the cassette player, said ‘That’s BB KING. Boy play that!’
We all have a favourite LED ZEPPELIN song and it’s not hard to guess Martin choice. If you love THE TEA PARTY’s song The Bazaar, that may give you a clue. “I think the one song that struck a chord with me, wasKashmir. I already had an interest as a teenager in music from the Middle East. When I heard LED ZEPPELIN incorporate that Middle Eastern melody into rock ‘n’ roll, I was well, this is perfect! Rock ‘n’ roll is sexy and dangerous. So basically that song really affected me and what THE TEA PARTY did. We took it much, much further. And rock ‘n’ roll was born!”
The 9th ANNUAL WHOLE LOTTA LOVE – LED ZEPPELIN CELEBRATION commences this September nationwide. Martin gives his point of view of what can be expected. “Great musicianship, that’s for certain. An absolute authentic, respectful show. I stake my reputation on it! There won’t be a LED ZEPPELIN fan that will walk out of the concert not thinking it was just magic!”
After the ZEPPELIN’s Whole Lotta Love has been spread across Australia, there will be much more in the works from Jeff Martin. As mentioned, there will be no break. “In October I will be doing another solo acoustic thing in Australia. Doing more bluesy type music. Playing the Sydney Blues Festival, I’m one of the headliners for that. Also my band 777 is going to do a couple of shows in Sydney and a couple of shows in Melbourne as well. So October is pretty full for me and then I’d like to take November off.”
Jeff Martin’s parting words. “Everything is going really well with the reunion, the reformation of THE TEA PARTY. I will do my best, I promise my best to bring the band over.”
Drum Media Cover StoryDrum Media Perth features a cover story of Jeff Martin 777. You can read the article by visiting Drum Media Perth and skip to page 14.
Press: Jeff Martin talks to AU review
Larry Heath for the AU Review
Over a drink in Kings Cross, Larry Heath sat down with Jeff Martin of the legendary The Tea Party. Although a reunion was announced the week after our chat, no hint was given in this interview, as we discussed his latest project – Jeff Martin 777, which is a collaborative effort between Jeff, Jay Cortez and Malcolm Clark of The Sleepy Jackson. The trio had just returned from a tour of Canada.
Jeff Martin: We just came back from Canada, it was minus 30 in Edmonton in Calgary, and Mal and Jay, being Perth boys… they’ve never experienced Canadian winter, it was a shock to the System.
I’m told you can just walk across the lakes.
Oh sure, that’s no myth…
Well welcome back to the sunny skies of Australia!
It’s nice to be home.
You’re based in Perth now aren’t you
I got a place in Perth and I also have one in Byron Bay. Gotta see the sunrise and the sunset, you know!
Are you heading up to Bluesfest (in Byron)?
No – not this year. I’ll be playing Bluesfest next year though, and if I’m not doing it I stay away from it.
Certainly seems like you should be playing this year though… a pretty impressive lineup.
Sure! Mr. Dylan, B.B. King… not a big fan of Elvis Costello but apparently people are! Believe it or not, I just did my first ever feature interview with Australian Guitar Magazine, and so we had a lot of catching up to do. And we were talking about B.B. King, and how that was basically one of the first things I learnt… you know, “How Blue Can You Get?” and all that. I was 7 and playing the Blues.
So you’ve got a new album out! The Ground Cries Out with the 777… tell me how this project came about, and how Jay and Malcolm got involved.
Well, I met Jay at one of the first solo shows I ever played… at the Fly by Night in Perth, 2004 or something like that. And I remember, he came backstage, being all Jay Cortez like, saying “Hey man, we should make some music together” (said by Jeff in a deep, sensual accent). It was like Keith Richards had walked in the room, so cool! He ended up joining The Armada during its brief run.
Malcolm I’ve known since the mid 90s. I remember the first time I met him was at the Belvoir Ampitheatre, at a Tea Party show, and he was backstage drinking our rider. I thought – man, this kid’s cool. But then I found out quite quickly what an incredible drummer he was. We did a couple of charity shows together in the late 90s. And then when I met Jay it was funny they had this whole history together, with The Sleepy Jackson and The Exploders and all that.
So the Armada had run its course, and we ended up getting together and creating this nuclear fucking supercharged rock and roll experience. For me, it’s just a blast. For me, I gave up on the Les Paul and all that after The Tea Party, thinking I’d just do the acoustic thing. But no! Here I am, I’m back doing the rock and roll thing, and I couldn’t be happier for it.
The album is quite the eclectic taste of not only rock and roll, but the roots and even the blues too. The marketing of the album really places particular focus on this fact. Yet, I’ve always found you to be someone who creates varied and eclectic works – is that fair to say?
Yeah definitely. I think in the early days of The Tea Party, like The Edges of Twilight, that was certainly very eclectic – even Triptych was as well. Transmission was sort of dark and linear. But with this one (The Ground Cries Out), what I find enjoyable about it, for the first time in any of my music there is an element of joy in there. A little bit of tongue and cheek – with tracks like “Queen of Spades” and “Riverland Rambler” – and that’s the influence of Jay and Mal coming into my life. Nothing is taken too seriously – Jay saying “it’s only rock and roll, baby” and Malcolm just being a fucking loon.
He’s like John Bonham, Keith Moon and Animal from The Muppets all in one. They keep me on my toes, and in stitches as well. They’re just incredible guys to be around. And that comes through on the record. Even though there’s the sexy, dark, Middle Eastern inspiration in tracks like “The Cobra” and “The Ground Cries Out”, there’s this other element as well, a great balance. I may have done eclectic things in the past, but I’ve never achieved a record as balanced as this one.
Musically, how much did Jay and Malcolm influence that?
Two-thirds. It’s definitely a band. I know we’re using my name still, so there’s a lineage between the past and the future, but what’s hopeful is that by the 2nd or the 3rd record, we’ll just be known as 777 and drop the Jeff Martin.
And what’s the importance and relevance of 777 as a band name?
That has a lot to do with my esoteric studies and philosophy. Aleister Crowley, 777, that book that he authored, is a very important book in my life. That number seems to pop up a lot in my life too. So we needed to have a symbol to define this band, and with the numerological power behind that triple digit number, and the individual influences that are coming in from the three of us coming together, it just made sense.
We talk a bit about being eclectic, and there doesn’t seem to be a scene in Australia that can attribute itself to this more than Perth. The diversity is quite impressive – have you had an opportunity to experience much of the scene over there?
Oh absolutely. I go out when I can, and when I do, places like Amplifier and the Fly by Night – which is the best music venue in Australia. I mean the eclecticy that goes through the place… from one moment it’s John Butler doing a secret gig, and the next it’s Lulo Reinhardt (Django Reinhardt’s great grandnephew). It just goes all over the map. And that’s the great thing about the West Coast of any country. Like Venice Beach in California – it’s that same “anything goes” sort of vibe. When you’re dealing with the east, it’s more academic, and everything has to have its place. Perth is a very interesting place to live.
Can you point to some records that aspire you to remain original, and yes we’ll use the word eclectic again?
Yeah, like Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti by (Led) Zeppelin. For me, those are the albums where they’re stretching their wings the most. Great composition and I’ve always appreciated records like that. I’m a fan of a lot of the Dead Can Dance stuff, as well, that’s very eclectic. It’s a combination of those things. I just didn’t want to put any parameters on the band, persay. I mean as I’m the main songwriter, there’ll always be an overarching intention.
You’re doing quite a massive tour to celebrate the release of the album, certainly one of the biggest in recent memory…
In recent memory, for sure. I’m really looking forward to Australia seeing the new band. I’m just in my early 40s, but even in my solo acoustic concerts, you expect your audiences to get older – but they’re getting younger! People are continuously discovering The Tea Party, and those in their 20s are just wanting some solid rock and roll. And so I think a record like this is going to feed that appetite… and certainly the live shows that we’re going to do will feed that appetite too.
This is a musician’s musicians band, but also it’s very entertaining, so a rock and roll audience will love it as well.
You’re playing more intimate venues – as you have done in recent solo acoustic tours. How do these experiences compare to your Tea Party tours?
Well my favourite moments here in Australia with the Tea Party were at places like Selina’s (Coogee), or at the Prince (Bandroom in Melbourne), and even though that could have been 700 or 1000 people, that to me is still intimate. You can control the crowd psychology and make them feel like they’re a part of a very personal process.
If you can hear the heckler, you know you’re in an intimate space.
Well, I don’t get many hecklers. *laughs*
I don’t imagine! Have you had any interesting experiences along those lines?
Not really… none that I can remember. One thing I’ve been blessed with throughout my career is the incredible amount of respect that the crowd shows our music. They are people who are very serious about their music. So that being the case, you’re not really going to get the element. Plus, I can be very intimidating.
Well, I’m loving the record, and we can’t wait to see you out on the road. It really feels like you’ve been reinvigorated by the process of making this records.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes…
The Ground Cries Out, which was recorded in Perth, is in stores now. You can read the review of the album via one of the related links below.
The band is also on tour around the country as we speak – it kicks off today! You can find out more about the tour HERE, at the official Jeff Martin 777 website.
And as for The Tea Party, well, they’ve been announced for a Canadian tour later this year, and they’ll no doubt be coming down under before you know it. Perhaps even a visit to Byron Bay Bluesfest is already on the cards? It certainly seems it…
Press: Beat Magazine article
by Stu Lynch for Beat Magazine
Canadian rocker Jeff Martin has lived a somewhat nomadic existence since leaving The Tea Party in 2005. A solo career with extensive touring was his first port of call, before a move to Ireland saw the formation of power-trio The Armada, co-founded with Wayne Sheehy, with J. Cortez on bass. Martin moved on to Western Australia in 2008, retaining the services of Cortez and recruiting Malcolm Clark to form yet another three-piece under the moniker Jeff Martin 777 (triple-seven). This culminated in new album ‘The Ground Cries Out’.
The multi-instrumental songwriter, guitarist and producer is all to happy to reveal his decision to relocate to Perth was to provide stability for his family, amid the frantic nature of the music business. “My son Django was turning four, and it was getting to the time for him to go to pre-school, and because my son was born in Perth, and my wife’s a Perth girl, it just made sense with Django’s father being the rock ‘n’ roll gypsy that he is,” Martin nods. “It was time to put some roots down for his sake.”
Martin admits his excitement about Jeff Martin 777, a powerful collaborative effort, was underpinned by a certain “telekinesis” between Clark and Cortez, an understanding with which he was immediately at ease.
“What came out with the jams that we did in Perth about six or seven months ago when we started playing – you’ve heard that old rock story,” he grins, “it was just magic when we came together. It was the real deal, especially for me, as playing in a band like The Tea Party in a three-piece, we set the bar really high. So if I was going to do a three-piece again, it would have to be big.
“That’s why this record has come about,” he adds, “and the chemistry you can hear on the album – it’s almost flawless. It’s just a really big, great, rock ‘n’ roll record, and it’s fun, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
A mesmerising live show, incorporating Martin’s unique ‘sitar-guitar’ sound, has been the mainstay of his career through various incarnations. As he prepares to unleash material from The Ground Cries Out on a fresh audience, he emphasises that the band will ultimately succeed based on a solid live showing, and is keen to expose the qualities within the set-up.
“If there was a purpose behind this record besides expression,” he muses, “then it was to get out there and play this live. I want to showcase Mal and Jay’s talents to the rock ‘n’ roll world here in Melbourne, and in Australia, and put this band on the map, because I think if word gets out there about this band and what people will see, it could be very quickly one of the biggest bands in Australia”
With a reputation such one stemming from being in The Tea Party, you might expect a certain reliance on an older crowd of grungey enthusiasts to attend Jeff Martin gigs. However, he insists this is not the case, and that the current scene provides plenty of scope to garner new fans.
“What we find, especially with the 777 shows in Canada and even what I found with The Armada playing here is that the audience is young. It’s a young rock audience, and that’s great.
“I guess there are still a lot of Tea Party fans that will come out,” he agrees, “but I find that there’s a lot of new blood, and that’s a really great compliment to the music and to the integrity behind it.”
Any mystical scholars out there will note that the numerical addition to the band’s title is taken from English libertine Aleister Crowley’s book 777, one of many spiritual influences on Martin’s personal and musical endeavours. Martin explains the effect of Crowley’s work, and the inspiration behind using this to represent the band as a whole.
“It’s almost like a schematic manual on how to live your life using catalytic processes. It’s a big part of my psyche, and how I manage to file things in my life, so 777 is a very powerful number.
“We needed a symbol for this band, and the individuals coming together and the power that it’s making. It’s not a solo project,” he reaffirms, “it’s a band, and what I’m hoping is that once people get to know 777, we can drop the ‘Jeff Martin’, because it’s not just about me, it’s about the three of us.”
Six years on from the demise of The Tea Party (and a few years before Sarah Palin and her vile cronies adopted the name for their nefarious ends), some Aussie ‘Party fans might be surprised by the changes to Martin’s style and repertoire. There is still the thread of Middle Eastern music that has ran through all previous works, but this has been explored further and there is the addition of a South East Asian element, as provided by J. Cortez.
It is clear Jeff Martin is not dwelling on past glories but looking to the future. He is as settled geographically as possible for the time being (with another grueling tour on the horizon), and on a musical front, is sure his latest venture can eclipse all previous efforts.
“Once people really get to know these songs, they’ll become the new classics. I’m just a firm believer that if music comes from a point of honesty and integrity, it translates. It will find its audience.”
He’s not short on confidence either.
Jeff Martin at PBS
Jeff Martin talks to PBS about the current tour, the Tea Party reunion and plans for the next 777 album.