No Tea, but Martin seems ready for bluesy PartyTom Harrison, The Province
Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011
Jeff Martin leans into the table, levels his gaze, points to his head and declares, “Everybody’s trying to be too clever. I was looking for the sex.
“I wanted to create a sound for this band,” he continues. “I’ve accomplished that. I wanted to take people to some dark places, yes, but it’s sexy, too. It’s real songs.”
Martin is quick to emphasize that “this band” might appear under his name but it is a trio of himself, Malcolm Clark and J. Cortez, two Australian musicians that Martin got to know after he dissolved The Tea Party in 2005, and moved to Australia two years ago.
In an effort to sell records in a dwindling market there is a lot of gimmickry and imitation in today’s pop or rock. So, indeed, it’s clever but it’s calculated. From that perspective, Martin’s third solo album, The Ground Cries Out, harks to an earlier decade, the ’70s.
“With this record we said, ‘Let’s throw caution to the wind,’” he explains. “The only reason for doing it is the joy of it.”
Martin could have kept going as The Tea Party as (a self-admitted control freak) he started the band in 1990 and, as chief songwriter and producer, he was the most closely associated with it. The Tea Party vigorously pursued different directions, but the trio had run out of both steam and ideas.
Sealing its fate was the premature death from cancer of manager Steve Hoffman, Martin’s buffer against the music world. Without him, Martin was told that his record company, EMI, wanted more commercial records from The Tea Party, an idea he couldn’t accept.
In effect, The Ground Cries Out is Jeff Martin rebuilding.
“I wanted to find the passion again,” he stresses. “I had to start from scratch. I also had to learn to be a businessman. I’d never done that before.
“I really dove back into the blues,” he adds. “There is a bit of that on the album, which is different for me. The Tea Party never did it.”
The blues element isn’t that radical a departure. Martin has learned to live with The Tea Party’s frequent comparison to The Doors singing Led Zeppelin and so it’s no surprise that Martin’s interpretation of blues isn’t unlike Led Zeppelin Three’s. It’s also well integrated with the muscular and sometimes exotic rock of his new trio, which starts its first tour in Vancouver. The twohour show leaves room for improvisation, which is why Martin will record every show.
“New riffs come out of it,” he says of his still-developing band’s approach to playing. “And out of new riffs come new songs.
“It’s exciting, man. It’s very powerful. I’m looking forward to the Canadian reaction.”
© The Province 2011