by Bourby Webster for Space Ship News
The Tea Party’s Jeff Martin may have have a new band, but the new group’s debut album, entitled “The Ground Cries Out”, shows Martin hasn’t strayed far from the things that make him such a unique and lasting artist.
Martin has spent much time immersed in exotic and culturally rich places from Morocco to Turkey, Prague to Egypt, and these influences, along with his husky growling vocals and a passion for rock music, remain the hallmarks of the Jeff Martin sound on this new offering.
Jeff Martin 777 formed in 2010 but has been brewing for a long time: Martin first met Malcolm Clarke (The Sleepy Jackson/The Basement Birds) in 1997, and J Cortez (The Sleepy Jackson/The Armada) was present at Martin’s first solo gig in Perth.
‘You always take stories of “it was magic the first time we played together” with a grain of salt, but I am pretty sure the way I felt in that studio the first time we played together is the same way Jimmy Page felt the day he first played with Led Zeppelin.’
Martin clearly has immeasurable respect for, and trust in, the musicianship of his new band mates, “whilst I am still captain of the ship when it comes to producing, with such talent, I simply let them do their thing. The three of us together is terrifying beautiful.”
Clarke’s drumming can only be described as superb throughout the album, exploring textures, timbres and Martin’s love of middle-eastern influences. From the opening punches on the album’s title track that burst into a driving power-rock drumline, through the blues swing on Queen of Spades, the easy lilt on Riverland Rambler, and the sparse yet creative drumming in the slow rock track The Pyre, you can tell Clarke is enjoying himself and is totally emersed in the sound-world of Martin. He and bassist J Cortez have the kind of tightness and intuition that only comes from a truly great bass/drums partnership and they complement Martin perfectly.
Cortez, it seems, has not only brought his intuitive bass playing into the equation: Mekong, a track about a river in South East Asia transports you to a completely new part of the world, “Mekong is a track that is due to J’s influence and I have a feeling the next record will see this [South East Asian influence] more prevalent in some of the rock songs.”
Both on the tour’s promo flyer, and in interview, Martin was keen to emphasise the album is a fusion: “Most bands make albums that are linear and same-ish. I wanted this band to take all of its influences and put them on the table and make a record that takes you on a journey. Yet you still know it’s the same band, all over the map, but showing off everything they’ve got.”
The band are heading out on their first tour of Australia taking in all the major capital cities, commencing on May 1st. Despite the heavy production on the album, the live tour sees 777 distilled down to bass, drums, guitar and vocals, yet “it still sounds so big, if you can explain it to me, let me know cos I don’t know why”, said Martin.
Martin sees this ensemble as the start of a whole new era: “This is my present. This is my future”. And whilst he doesn’t need to do this anymore, music is clearly in his blood, concluding the interview with more than a glint in his eye: “If I stop making music, I’d be a very dangerous person”, he said. Thanks to 777 we’re safe for a while longer…
Jeff Martin 777 launches The Ground Cries Out in Perth on 21st May at The Rosemount Hotel.
A QUICK Q&A WITH JEFF MARTIN
1. MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU’VE JAMMED ON STAGE WITH?
2. CHARACTERISTIC OR TRAIT YOU HATE IN A MUSICIAN
3. MOST MEMORABLE MUSIC EXPERIENCE
Sitting crossed legged on the floor in Jimmy Page’s bedroom in front of Jimmy’s stereo listening to the demo of the album “Transmission”. (BW: Did he like it? JM: He was playing air guitar to it)
4. THING YOU REGRET MOST ABOUT YOUR CAREER
The way The Tea Party broke up
5. MOST EMBARRASSING CAREER MOMENT
Losing my voice in a gig (it’s happened a couple of times and its so embarrassing)
6. MOST INSPIRATIONAL ARTIST YOU’VE WORKED WITH
7. MOST INSPIRATIONAL ARTIST YOU’VE NOT WORKED WITH
8. DREAM GIG
Headline at Glastonbury
9. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I will keep doing what I am doing. If I stopped making music I’d be a dangerous person
10. LASTING WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANY ASPIRING MUSICIAN?
Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law…