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Gonzo Latest News: 10/05/2012 EXCLUSIVE: Martin Stephenson Interview (Part Two)

Date Published: 10th May 2012

Yesterday we posted the first part of an interview with Martin Stephenson; a massively talented and somewhat intriguing singer, songwriter, and all-round good bloke from the north of England.

The next bit of the interview, for some reason, turned into him talking to me about my records. Because I would hate to be seen as a shameless self-publicist, I have cut that bit out, but if you really want to know more, look me up on Spotify.

Here, dear friends, is part two...

Jon: So what sort of timescale are we talking about for the next in the series of re-imaginings of your early albums
Martin: Well, actually Rob has them all. And he’s pressed them all up, so he actually has Boat to Bolivia, he has Gladsome, Humour and Blue, he has Salutation Road and then the fourth Daintees album, The Boy’s Heart, so he actually has all four which I delivered to him at the end of last year. He’s got them all.
Jon: So I’ve just got to ask him when it’s coming out. (which is something that I singularly forgot to do)
Martin: Yep.
Jon: Salutation Road, I think was my favourite
Martin: Well it was interesting doing that because the original recording, you know there was songs about the mining industry, there was also spiritual songs, but they were recorded in Los Angeles and I had the bass player from Toto – I mean he didn’t know anything about being down the pit, you know.

So it was quite odd that they got recorded there in LA at the Sunset Sounds Studio and all these places, so actually doing that acoustically made more sense to me because I could hear what the songs really were, you know.
Jon: What I want to do one night I’m going to sit down and play the originals and the new ones back to back
Martin: That would be interesting. I haven’t got a clue what that would be like. I mean I didn’t listen to the originals, I just remembered them and played them by memory
Jon: It would be interesting, in the same way that - there is somebody I know who is about my age early 50, who lost his driving licence and had to take his driving test again and he found how the things he had picked up in the meantime were so different to what he learnt when he first learnt to drive and it would be interesting to ... I bet you will find there are differences – you have slightly changed the tunes, changed the rhythms or something just because that’s the way your mind works
Martin: I am sure if you were to go back to your first album, you know, or your first recording, you would probably just interpret them wouldn’t you, it would be like someone else learning our material
Jon: Oh very much so, my first album was horrible anyway unlike yours which is really good
Martin: I don’t know, I was flying on the seat of my pants as well like
Jon: Well isn’t that really what one does throughout life when you are an artist?
Martin: I love it me, I just .. I mean I’ve worked with a lot of other artists now encouraging them... I’ve worked with a lass called Miriam. I’ve just finished rehearsing with her actually. She’s 34, she’s about 4’8 and she an amazing little singer – she’s just got it, you know, and I’ve been recording with her at home.

I’ve got a little two-channel audio USB interface and one vocal mike and an SM58 mike and I’ve just been using that and I’ve been using this thing called Easy Drummer and I’ve an old 1959 Hoffner bass and out of that kit I can get a Memphis sound – it sounds like it was recorded at Sun Records in 1955.
Sounds bloody brilliant

I’ve got this mate who runs a company called Grammatical Amplifiers and he’s an amplifying nut. He sits in his laboratory and listens to valve amps all day and he’s basically reinventing the Fender Bassman you know. I’ll send him recordings over, and he’d say ‘oh when was that done and what year?’ And I’ll say ‘well actually it was in Invergordon on May 7th 2012’, and he’ll go, ‘you’re fucking joking’.
Jon: So you are channelling the spirit of Sam Phillips.
Martin: Well yeah in a way. The use of technology – well I love going into Logic and saying well I’ll have that and I’ll use that, and I’ll use that. It’s like being a vegan going in to Morrison’s, you know, I don’t need that, and I don’t need, I’ll get some..... you know you just use what you need
Jon: That’s bloody brilliant – I’m looking forward to hearing this. When will her record be coming out?
Martin: Well it’s finished now and I already got a couple of tracks. I sent them to Shane Meadows the film maker and it’s amazing because I’ve totally found a talent – it just worked with her, it just went whoosh and even a couple of recordings I’ve done you could technically do them better, but it just happened then and that’s the magic, you know.
Jon: I think it sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to hear it.

And there, for the moment, it ends. I am waiting for my copy of 'California Star' to arrive, and when it does, I shall go through it, track by track, with Martin. In the meantime, if you have any questions for this most amenable, and approachable of men, email me on gonzo@cfz.org.uk, and I will ask him next time we speak.

Check out the Martin Stephenson artist page on the Gonzo site, and also the Martin Stephenson and the Daintees artist page, and the Martin Stephenson and Helen McCookerybook page...

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