Category Archives: Interview

A Conversation with Jeff Martin

Bands don’t come more bombastic than Canadian juggernaut The Tea Party. Recently winding up their Transmission tour where they played the entirety of their classic 1997 album “Transmission” throughout Canada, the U.S and Australia, the band are about to embark on some Australian shows with American band “Live”. Directly after that, band leader Jeff Martin is embarking on a solo tour which includes a date at the Jack in Cairns on Thursday the 22nd of March. NQ Music Press caught up with Jeff for a chat ahead of the Jack show…

Jeff’s last recorded release was the “Ocean At The End” album in 2014 with the Tea Party, I asked the man when we can expect some new recorded material “I have a new solo album in the works that will come out later towards the end of the year, but there’s also a new Tea Party E.P that’s going to be coming out sooner than that, so there’s a lot on my plate”

In an era where “The Album” format is being pushed aside as more people turned to single downloads and streaming, you may think that the Tea Party are embracing the trend with the impending release of an E.P, apparently not according to Jeff “For the time being now, it’s about quality not quantity, you know? the six songs that we have on our plate we will release around May or June. The first single “Black River” Comes out in April. The other 5 songs we have on the E.P are equivalent to Black River, and Black River is a big powerful song”

“We’re very fortunate, our fans around the world want to listen to every single note that’s played, so we’re very lucky like that, I know that a lot of other musicians are frustrated by that scenario, but we seem to have avoided that situation”

Jeff’s previous work outside the Tea Party has included other backing musicians, I enquired if this was again going to be the case, and Jeff was quick to answer “I’ve come to the surmisation that you can’t get any better than the two of them, Jeff and Stuart, my Tea Party band mates, so I have decided that with the acoustic records it will be just me. There will be world percussion on it, but probably a lot of it I’ll end up playing. I want to keep it really acoustic and crystalline, with beautiful 12 string acoustics and some of my more exotic instruments that I haven’t played in a while. It gives me a chance to play those instruments that having been sitting there patiently waiting, wondering when I’m going to pick them up again”

Middle eastern and exotic scales and chords have always played a big part in Jeff Martin and The Tea Party’s music, I asked Jeff what it was about this genre that drew him to these sounds “It’s the esoteric that seems to be inherent in music from that part of the world. It’s just very old, very ancient, and with my interests that are in occult philosophy and esoteric philosophies it just seems to be a symbiotic thing that I am attracted to”

With obvious influences from Led Zeppelin and the Doors and I asked whether there were any current bands he was liking “I’m excited about some of the young bands I’ve produced here at Riverhouse (Jeff’s Byron Bay studio). There’s a band from Sydney called Lepers and Crooks, a great 5 piece rock band, I produced their E.P in 2016, and a singer/songwriter from sydney named Max Boylan Smith, he’s incredible, an incredible artist, almost like a modern day Cat Stevens” Readers of these pages will know that local act Secret Solis last year recorded their E.P with Jeff, Jeff enthused about the project “Oh yeah, Kian and Callie, I can’t tell you how much I love them as people, but their music as well, her voice and the way he interacts with her, and the music they have created”

Anyone who has heard the Tea Party will know that there are definite similarities between the vocals of both Jeff Martin and Doors singer Jim Morrison, so what came next from Jeff, came to me as somewhat of a revelation “I just want to qualify one thing, that although I am aware of the comparisons, I was never, ever a Doors fan. I didn’t like the organ, too much organ” After reeling from this bit of information, I relayed my surprise that he was never asked to be part of the Doors reunion that took place a few years ago, where Ian Astbury from the Cult sung Jim Morrisons parts. The Doors would never have known Jeff disliked them and surely Jeff’s baritone voice was a shoe in for the job, Jeff replied “I was asked! They did before they asked Ian, and I graciously turned it down, because I mean, that would just be the end of my career”

We weren’t fortunate enough to catch the Tea Party Transmission tour in North QLD, so I asked Jeff if there will be a DVD/Blu Ray release we can see “It was filmed, the Melbourne show we did at the forum was filmed. It’s just something that I have to find the time to get my head around it so I can mix it, it’s probably a project for me sometime next year”

Which brought me to my next somewhat awkward question, on Jeffs previous two solo jaunts to NQ, promises were made regarding The Tea Party playing a show in Cairns (The last time they came here was in the late 90s when they played a show at the Play Pen). I felt compelled to hold the man to account on these promises. Jeff laughed “Yeah.. well you know what? the problem is with the Tea Party, it’s expensive, it’s really really expensive and a promoter up that way needs to really put it on the line to bring the band up there. We have new management now with the Tea Party, so who knows what touring will be like with the Tea Party come next year, not making any promises (laughs), but I know Jeff and Stuart would love to get up that way”

Jeff assured me he will be debuting a few new solo songs from his upcoming solo album at the Jack show.

Todd Macalpine

Tickets available now for the Cairns, Townsville and Mackay shows here:- Oztix

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