Jeff Martin’s scene is cooking. He tells me “I love cooking food here at our house. There’s a different part of the world being cooked in this kitchen every night. My scene is obviously consumed by my music, but the love of my wife and my children.”
We discussed the upcoming R.E.M. tribute shows.
Jeff explains – the Music Director, Ross – he’s the guitarist in the main band of the show. He’s been wanting me to be involved with this for quite some time and just because of scheduling, and commitments I have with the Tea Party and things like that, we have to keep putting it off. But it was one of those things that, I haven’t done a tribute thing for quite some time. The last one I’d done was the Led Zeppelin one. That happened, I think it was about six years ago now. And because it was a Led Zeppelin thing I don’t think that most of my fans would have been surprised by that because there’s such a lineage between Led Zeppelin and the Tea Party and there was a cohesiveness there. But when this opportunity presented itself, I felt that, well, a lot of people wouldn’t know that I am a fan of songs of R.E.M., especially the earlier stuff. When I was a teenager, Jeff Burrows, the drummer in the Tea Party, was the one that turned me on to them. And I immediately was really taken aback and just very influenced, inspired, by the guitar play of Peter Buck in R.E.M. because he’s very well known for bringing back that style, that twelve string electric guitar, jangly-sort-of-thing, that I found out in my teenage years was actually originally by Roger McGuinn from the Byrds, back in the 60’s.
So, there was this whole rediscovery thing that went on for me. And I thought that A, I had time to do it. And it would be something that would be a challenge, as well, because it’s not something that I think people would expect me to do, especially with my voice being a lot lower and things like that.
If my music was a food?
It would be a very exotic tagine. [/pullquote]But I’ve been given artistic license to do the songs justice, but also to reinterpret as well. So, it’s going to be a very creative thing, especially the lineup of musicians that I get to enjoy the stage with. It’s pretty top shelf caliber stuff. And it’s people that I’ve never met before. It’ll be an interesting first rehearsal, that’s for sure.
They’ve asked me to play guitar, and also play mandolin. And I’m also going to be bringing out for the first time, I have a very special guitar that I’m staring at right now. It’s 102 years old. It’s a 1916 Gibson Harp Guitar, so it’s half guitar, half harp.
So you don’t do tribute shows very often then, or at all? No, I wouldn’t make a point of doing them. There are some musicians that seem to always be doing those sort of scenes and it works, you know what I mean? But it’s not something that, this is not heaping criticism on anyone, it’s not something that I would want to be known for. It’s just a special thing and I find it, especially with the R.E.M. thing, it’s a challenge, and it’s not expected, and that’s kind of the angle I’m taking with it.
That’s what’s making it a very cool event, and that’s why, according to the promoter, the ticket sales are going through the roof already, so it’s good.
We move onto the Tea Party and Jeff’s upcoming solo tour.
Jeff says, my solo tour is happening before that. I’ve pretty much got the month of August to give all my concentration to the R.E.M. thing, like rehearsing myself and things like that. After R.E.M. is done I do believe I’m going to have some commitments with the Tea Party in Canada.
So I’ve gotta wake up that monster. No pun intended. We have new material now, which the three of us are excited about, so that’ll probably see the light of day in the new year, for sure.
With the solo tour, is that an acoustic one? Jeff states: it is acoustic but the way I am going to present myself on stage, there’s going to be a lot of sounds coming out of one man and a guitar. It’ll be a sonic landscape that I don’t think people will have heard just out of one instrument.
It will be just me on stage, me and my other personalities. Who knows though? There are some cities, like for instance in Sydney, my dear friend Mick Skelton, the drummer for The Baby Animals, he’s threatened to get up on stage and play with me. We never know, I’ve got so many dear friends in different parts of this beautiful country that always threaten to get up and play with me and I certainly wouldn’t say no.
I ask Jeff if he has a favourite guitar? Well, it’s hard to say because they all play a different role. I mean obviously the Gibson Harp Guitar; Dorian Gray has that picture in the attic, I have my Gibson Harp Guitar in the corner. I’ve got a beautiful 1951 Gypsy Jazz guitar that was built in Paris that my best friend Corey De Luka, who passed away a year ago, he bought that for me for my birthday a couple years ago. That’s a very prized possession for me. It’s beautiful. For electric guitars I have my ’59 Les Paul, that’s the main guitar for the Tea Party stuff, but I also have for recording a 1971 Les Paul recording model, but it’s the only black on that I know of, it’s got Bixby on it. It looks like a Harley Davidson.
I’ve learned to scale it down when I tour. For instance, the solo tour that I’m doing, the boys at Maton have been making my guitars for me since that relationship started. I’ll be bringing a couple 12 string Maiden acoustics. I’ve got the double-neck Maton acoustic that they made for me, which is a 12X6. I’ll also be bringing my Hurdy Gurdy on the tour, and also a multi-lute, so it’s like an electric lute, I’ll be bringing that as well. I have a few instruments for the solo tour but it’s nothing like touring with the Tea Party when there’s like 20 guitars or something.
If my music was a food? It would be a very exotic tagine.
THE ONES WE LOVE: Celebrating R.E.M.
Friday 31st August
Brisbane, Tivoli Theatre
Thursday 6th September
Melbourne, Palais Theatre
Friday 7th September
Sydney, State Theatre
‘STARS IN THE SAND TOUR’
Thu Jun 21 – Baha, Rye, NSW
Fri Jun 22 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
Sat Jun 23 – Spotted Mallard, Brunswick, VIC
Thu Jun 28 – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Fri Jun 29 – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Sat Jun 30 – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Thu Jul 5 – Leadbelly, Newtown, NSW
Fri Jul 6 – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Sat Jul 7 – Tattersalls Hotel, Penrith, NSW
Fri Jul 13 – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Sat Jul 14 – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Sun Jul 15 – The Basement, Canberra, ACT
Fri Jul 20 – Long Jetty Hotel, Long Jetty, NSW
Sat Jul 21 – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Thu Jul 26 – Imperial Hotel, Eumundi, QLD
Fri Jul 27 – Blackbear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Sat Jul 28 – Kingscliff Hotel, Kingscliff, NSW
Fri Aug 3 – Panthers, Port Macquarie, NSW
Tickets on Sale from www.jeffmartinofficial.com