There’s no denying Jeff Martin‘s magnetic pull among Townsville’s live music fans.
Jeff’s eclectic musicality – both as a solo artist and with his band The Tea Party – casts a wide net; allowing listeners to hear what they want to hear in his work – a little Led Zeppelin, a little Jim Morrison, a little of The Beatles circa Sgt Pepper’s and a good strong serving of world flavour inspired by Middle Eastern, Celtic and Mediterranean music. With a near audible buzz anticipating Jeff’s upcoming Townsville show, we caught up with him to learn what’s in the works and how Jeff juggles such a hectic career in music.
How is the Townsville leg of this tour shaping up?
The anticipation is getting bigger by the moment. Just the reaction on Facebook, it’s shaping to be quite a visit.
You have a very well-established fan-base here. How would you describe your relationship with Townsville?
The one thing I find about Townsville is that a lot of international artists don’t come through that often, so that being said – even though I’m a very proud resident of Australia – with my schedule with The Tea Party and my production work and everything, it’s very difficult to get up that way regularly. So what I find is that when I do play up there, the audiences are very attentive. Because my acoustic shows tend to be run the gamut – top of the mountain sonnet’s like Louder than Love, then there’s moments in the set when you can hear a pin drop, and that’s the one thing I appreciate about the audience in Townsville: when that moment comes that you could hear a pin drop, you can actually hear it, because they’re so attentive.
I understand you’re working on new material with the band and as a solo artist. What can you share about that?
The Tea Party stuff is, I think it’s the best music that we’ve made in a very, very long time, so we’re very excited about that. But also with my solo materials, I’m drawing upon the experience that I had; back in late 2016 I went to Morocco for a while and just drawing on all those incredible musicians that I met while I was there. It’s very diverse, Moroccan music. You can’t pin it down to one thing because there’s different tribes, whether its M’touga or Ait Sgougou so those rhythms and the acoustic instruments that I brought back from Morocco are going to play a big part in the solo music that I’m creating.
How do you distinguish your work, when you have two creative projects on the go at once like that?
Well the Tea Party is all about that big majestic, hard rock situation. It’s Jeff Burrows’ big drums and the soundscapes that we create are very, very large, it would be impossible to do as a one man acoustic show – even though I distill the Tea Party songs down to their essence when I perform them solo. It’s totally different hats. I’ve got a couple of weeks before I get up there and I’m almost finished The Tea Party material. We’re going to be releasing an EP and the first single comes out at the end of April, so what I’m trying to do over the next few days is give my ears a break for a couple of days and shift gears. Because my solo stuff is… yes, it’s percussion, but it’s a lot of world percussion, there’s no hard rock drum kits, so there’s a different mindset altogether. It’s a matter of giving myself a couple of days before putting on a different hat.
Is that the secret to staying true to your sound while still having the space to explore and innovate?
I think so. I’m very fortunate to have the luxury of time. With the success of the Tea Party and also my solo career, I can afford to do things more or less at my own will. I can broach the subject when it’s necessary and when it inspires me. I have this incredible studio here at Riverhouse, where I live, so I don’t have to watch the clock, I don’t have to pay attention to neighbours because I’m on 104-acres of rainforest – the only thing I’m pissing off with noise is the koalas.
Do you prefer that time in the recording studio creating music, or performing live music?
I’ve been a studio rat, and just need to be one for the next few weeks, until I get up there and can get back on stage and do that cathartic thing that I do. They’re both equally important to me and equally enjoyable, but sometimes I need a break from one through the other.
Jeff Martin will perform in Townsville at the Dalrymple Hotel on 23 March 2018. Click here for tickets.