Jeff Martin @ Heritage Hotel, Bulli NSW 8 May 2010
Jeff Martin chats to Soulshine about making and performing sexy, dangerous music, his duet with Tina Arena and transcendence through the medium ahead of his national tour with Armada bass player Jay Cortez.
Chantel Bann: How has this tour been so far?
Jeff Martin: It’s been fantastic! As far as venues go across Australia, I’ve got a few places that are very special to me now and one of the places here in the suburb of Cronulla is a little beautiful place called the Brass Monkey. So we played an incredible show last night and it was sold out but for the first time ever on this tour, I debuted a couple of the new songs and it was massive. It was a very joyous occasion.
CB: So they’re new songs for your new solo album or for a new Armada album?
JM: Yeah well, you know, solo album or Armada album, I write the songs, so, whatever we call it. Whether it’s going to be a Jeff Martin record or an Armada record really depends on how much Wayne can be involved. He’s a busy man and there’s the distance as well with him being in Ireland but we’ll see how it goes.
CB: And you’re recording the new album up in Byron Bay after the tour?
JM: Basically, I’ll be writing the rest of it at my house in Byron and then hopefully record it at Studio 301 in November to get it out early next year.
CB: Is there any new/exciting ground that you’re going to be treading or your more familiar, middle-eastern tinged rock?
JM: The way I look at things, from a song-writer’s perspective is that I have to evolve. I can’t just go and do a 360 and start doing country records, or something like that.
CB: Chris Cornell seemed to have a crack at that, though, didn’t he?
JM: [laughs] Yeah well that fell flat on its face now didn’t it. So no, I’m not going to go and work with Timbaland any time soon. What I’ve done, especially like even from the days of The Tea Party, that fusion of world music into rock music – I guess is kind of my trade mark, so to speak – the potential for that fusion of music is limitless. It’s infinite. So I’m just going to keep on pushing that envelope because it’s mine to push. And I think it’s what the people that are listening to Jeff Martin’s music, well that’s something that they’re expecting and want to be challenged with. That’s how I challenge myself as an artist.
CB: It’s interesting that you bring up the infinite possibilities of rock and roll music because there has been debate about whether modern music has killed rock and roll.
JM: Well it’s definitely under pressure. That’s for sure especially with the popularity of your idol programs and all that stuff. People are just so desperate to be famous and they don’t even know what it is to be famous. I think that actually, if they knew what it was to be famous, they would think again. I certainly wouldn’t complain about how my career has gone but it takes its toll, you know, on your private life and things like that. But all these kids just care about being the next Britney Spears, or whoever the fuck it is now – Lady Gaga. You have to be careful what you wish for.
Again, I’m very fortunate in how my career, with The Tea Party and my solo career turned out. I’ve got an incredible audience around the world that has a lot of respect for what I do and in turn I give them all the respect in the world. So it’s this beautiful relationship that I don’t really think could go wrong.
CB: Now, I remember you did a duet with Tina Arena on RockWiz of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Don’t Give Up’, which was awesome. Have you been inspired to collaborate or duet with other artists outside of your music or even incorporate it into some of your solo work?
JM: It’s possible. That was a great experience because, you know, obviously with the RockWiz program they’re quite clever with how they set up artists and the way they position two opposite worlds together. You couldn’t get more opposite than Jeff Martin and Tina Arena.
It was funny because I knew Tina’s name but I would not know any of her music, at all. I knew she was very, very famous, especially in Australia, but I just had no idea. What a voice! What an incredible voice and that’s what blew me away because I’m the type of person, you know, I don’t really care where you’ve come from or where your cred is, it’s more what do you do? And how good can you do it? And when she opened up her mouth and started to sing, it was like ok, this is serious talent right here. It was amazing too because she didn’t even know the song, she knew of the song, but she didn’t know it. Not like I would know Peter Gabriel’s work and she was just very professional. The proof is in the pudding. It is still, to this day, as far as hits to their website, the most popular duet that RockWiz has ever had.
Continued in Part II