A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
"Ask Martin" Q&As -
Good to see you perform with MTWA at the High Wycombe Swan. I love your solo album, King of the West. My question is, do you have any plans to do a UK tour in order to promote the record at all? I'm sure that lots of MTWA fans and others would support you.
Darren (Mole Man)
can't thank you enough for buying, listening and enjoying King of the West as It's consumed about a year of my life. I have no plans, or more to the point offers, to tour at the moment but like all songsters live in hope that Take That may hear a song that they want and then my mortgage is paid.
Ray (29 Oct 2008)
P.S. I'd love to hear Will Young's version of "The Green Man"
I got some shirts in Nottingham today. Hope they get past the shirt police.
Right Martin - you've finally cleared up the credits for Argus on the sleeve notes of Argus Through The Looking Glass. Let's move ontoWishbone Four . Who wrote what and played what then??
This album was put together a long time ago when we went off to stay together at a house on the Isle of Anglesea, North Wales. It was pre-spring, wet and windy, migrating birds on the wing.
So Many Things To Say - this mainly came from my goodself and I think was inspired by one of my favourite bands The Who and their 1960s music which had quite an influence on my young musical development. This features me venting off about female expectations, I'm sure other guys have felt that their woman expects too much of them at some point in time, I suppose you could say its quite a bitchin lyric; I don't write many like this.
Ballad of the Beacon - if I remember right this was an idea from Andy, I contributed the "mountain" bit which I sing and Ted also contributed some lovely guitar work. It really does seem to have absorbed a little bit of Wales and I think Andy was expressing his desire for a of pastoral life during a period that was hectic and very "city to city" for all of us.
No Easy Road - Very much a band thing, I remember kickin this around on numerous jam sessions, I put the lyric together and the whole song came about by us reacting to the seriousness (for want of a better description) of the Argusalbum and wanting to move in a more straight ahead rock direction. The lyric does speak of the fairly crazy Rock 'n' Roll existence we were living as seen through my eyes.
Everybody Needs a Friend - Ahh, my sentimental side, darling! This was very much inspired by the second movement of Ravel's G Major Piano Concerto. I think I was actually trying to figure it out on guitar and it morphed into a whole new mood and I found myself writing a lyric that seems to have touched many people. You would hardly call the song mainstream rock music. I guess it comes from my sensitive feminine side - just call me Martina. One of my warmest marshmallow songs, very sweet.
Doctor - This was from an idea I had back in the 60s before WA. Musically a bit Who-ish again. The lyric was about my brothers girlfriend circa 67/68 whom I have to confess to having spent a crazy night or two with. She was a state registered heroin addict being treated with Methedrine or Methadone as it its called now. Beautiful girl, a successful model at only 16, but boy was she heavy duty. Had a bunch of young lads staying in her flat all of whom had run away from home, Mark Emery (Hobbit) would remember her. She blazed a trail and made it to her 30s but has been gone a long time now. Thanks for the song babe.
Sorrel - Must rank as a pretty bizarre song subject. I found this little weed growing in a crack in the path, fished it out and put in a pot with soil where it flourished and had sweet little yellow flowers darling. Went off on tour and asked my other half at the time to take good care of it, meaning give it a bit of water now and again. Came back six weeks later - dead as a dodo - bitch, I thought. So I wrote a song about it using a licence called "poetic". Silly thing is, it was not Sorrel at all but some other plant, but I particularly liked the name Sorrel so I used that.
Sing Out The Song - This one harks back to the 60s as well - I had in mind us young lads when we first started going down to the local pub drinking cider, singing songs and generally getting fairly drunk and disorderly. I was never that happy with the recording of this one - it should have been looser and scruffy even but everyone did their best with it at the time.
Rock 'n Roll Widow - Steve and Ted put the lyric together for this one I believe, about an event that happened at an open air gig in Texas where a guy was shot very close to the stage we were performing on. Everyone contributes here musically.
To some extent this applies to all the songs on this album - I think we were still at a stage where although the initial spark comes from one person, because we were such a tight outfit and spent a lot of time jamming and piecing things together it is actually very difficult to break down who contributed what specifically. I would also add that this album sounded very small and mid-rangey when it was mastered, it certainly lacked the balls that it had in the studio which always puzzled me and which I suspect was to do with some technical tape bias thing or other. Should have sounded better with the right care and time spent on it, but those were very hectic and crazy days. Keith Harwood, the engineer, who we got on with great died in a car crash not long after. Very sad, he never got to see the child his girlfriend was carrying. This album marked the end of an intense period of work that established the band worldwide and culminated not long after in Ted leaving, which changed things a lot, and although Laurie came in and did a great job, there was something very special about the original line-up. So there you go, a strange, dynamic, but somewhat sad time it was.
I hope this is of interest to you - I've tried to do my best to tell it as I remember,
Martin (19 Oct 2008)
Have you heard Ray's King of the West yet? What do you think; he's a dark horse isn't he? Any chance you too might work up a song or two together sometime, or are your styles too dissimilar?
Loved the show at Bolton- the band have never sounded better.
I have gotten to know Ray slowly over the last few years and I have to say that he really is a wonderful bloke. His playing has blossomed during the time we have worked together and he has a superb touch which has the perfect balance of feel (so important) and technique. Add to this that he is wonderful company, nothing is too much trouble and he has an active and mischievous mind. His solo album is fascinating, I need to listen some more, but there are some brilliant Ray-isms on there - I love "The Green Man". I have always been intrigued by injecting humour into music - its not easy to do. My old mate Mr Roy Hollingworth was good at it, but Ray displays that abillity which is a rare skill to have. When I spotted him getting changed the other day in the dressing room I called him "King of the Vest". We have a laugh! Obviously we all look forward to making some music together, when the schedule permits. In the mean time I hope Rays album does well for him, he is a great guy and he deserves it to.
Martin (18 Oct 2008)
Hope the 1st Oct was a special celebration. Great time to start off the tour.
Hope it was a memorable day.
lots of love
Yes it was a Happy Birthday - to be doing the first gig of this tour on such a day - it wasn't like a normal b'day - did that the night before with my mad family, but, yeah, getting going with this tour was most appropriate as it has been a gas - everyone involved, a great bunch of guys and the spirit in my band has been wonderful, the venues have been great with some spectacular, but best of all the attendances have been brilliant with a lot of shows sold out and huge enthusiasm from folks after we perform - what more could a chap ask for - oh yeah the new ATTLG album seems to be going down wonderfully well also.
Anyway, hope you are well darling,
must dash, gotta gig to do,
Love and kisses, Martin (18 Oct 2008)
I'm sure you get fed up with all those petty questions about studio albums, old albums, choice of songs, bass gear, etc, so instead, I have a SERIOUS question to ask... That of what attire you plan to grace the stage in during the upcoming tour? Will we be confronted with the skull and crossbones shirt that seems to have graced every tour for about the last 12-15 years, or can we expect a fresh look? Or maybe some different garments from the past. Whatever happened to that Brigade red vest? Or the white flares and red jacket with huge lapels from the New England tour? Is there any chance of them making an appearance this time? Hope you can understand how important these sartorial matters are to us fans.
On the subject of stage clothing - it does tend to get used year in, year out, for that specific purpose, usually cos it works - i.e. lightweight, easy to move in, can be seen from a distance and various other technical criteria such as fast drying, when washed, etc I do tend not to wear these clothes when involved in other activities like in the back garden with me chainsaw or down at the stockcar racing track.
Over the years one does get attached to certain garments and they begin to take on an almost ceremonial role - they become an essential part of the ritual. I know this sounds almost superstitious, but I'm not one who is given to superstition, touch wood! Maybe I am a strange freak but there are certain things I like with me - I have a red and black Japanese scarf that was given to me years ago, it is beautiful and I usually carry it with me when I'm on the road although I don't actually wear it that often - odd or what ?
Anyway its nice that youve made such an observation concerning my stage apparel, you old shirtspotter you - I suppose its arguably better than going on stage dressed in only a string vest, a pair of wellington boots, and a metal helmet.Incidentally, where do you buy your shirts? Primark or Bond Street?, I'm always up for some shopping tips.
Well this has been a fascinating subject to explore with you Dave. Oh just one thing - extremely old completely knackered stage gear - some of it gets nicked and usually modified by daughters and some of it goes on to serve the Rock 'n' Roll cause even more by becoming guitar cleaning cloth. I am currently polishing up my viking longship ThunderBird bass with an old pair of Calvin Klein boxer shorts which I reckon somehow manages to impart a certain sexiness into the bass sound!
Nice chatting to you - must now get back to growing old disgracefully
Martin (16 Oct 2008)
thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Here's one I don't think has been asked before. Its a hypothetical one really, and intended as a bit of fun. You've done a few covers in the past. Now...imagine your record company ask you to record a WHOLE ALBUM of cover versions - other artists tunes given the Wishbone treatment. What songs would you choose to record (they could be songs that inpsired you when you were starting out, well known classics, obscure personal favourites...anything really).
Over to you Martin...
what an interesting question.
Crying in the Rain - Everly Brothers
As Above So Below - Comsat Angels
See Emily Play - Pink Floyd
Ready for Love - Mott the Hoople
Several tunes by Andy Fraser
Cigarettes, Whisky and Wild Women
Take Me to the River
I Wanna be your Man
Purple Haze or maybe Hey Joe
Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
You Move Me - B Movie
Senor - Bob Dylan
maybe something by Dusty Springfield; early Yardbirds?
Some of these songs are tunes I used to play at some time in the past, the others have personal significance for me. Hmmm, well that'll be fun when I get around to it
Martin (28 Aug 2008)
I'm ashamed to say that though I bought Walking The Reeperbahn at the concert in March, it wasn't until about a month ago I got round to playing it frequently, as I was still memorising 1970-80 material...but anyway, now I have. And I wish I'd done so earlier, to tell the truth. Particularly partial to "My Brother" (Well, actually he doesn't like guitar music and can be a pain, but the song's suberb!) "Fire Sign" "Heaven Is" and "Where will I go?" but I really enjoy all of it...and hopefully the parents do or they'll be up the wall by the beginning of September. So now I have the blatent question (I'm sorry, my imagination is kept in the amplifier in the front room and refuses to leave) - do you have a favourite? Is there one you enjoyed recording the most?
Hope the Summer's treating you well,
I'm very glad you got into Walking The Reeperbahn, even if it was "eventually". I tend not to have favourites but I can assure you that this particular album has my sweat and tears throughout, "My Brother" that you mention was written about my real brother Kim when he fell in love with a girl in NYC and I knew that it would take him away from all of us even though I was happy for him - so, mixed emotions there then! Although he was 9 years younger than me he went up to the big gig in the sky a few years back, and I feel he keeps an eye on me still, he knew the Rock 'n' Roll biz very well and was much loved by many. I could talk fo hours about this recording but maybe we should do that over a drink one day. Orange juice of course.
"Broken Down House" was a bit of a fave - I did live there, and so many people took something away, it was a strange and sometimes lonely time for me that preceded a complete collapse in my life in order that I could recreate myself and start from scratch again.
Righty Ho, darling, I really ought to get off and go polish my guitar. Actually I've just noticed that its nearly 3am so maybe I'll do that tomorrow and go get horizontal for a while instead. Be nice to see you again one of these days,
Martin (28 Aug 2008)
Just found an album called John Handy Live at the Monterrey Jazz festival 1965 The two tracks on this album are named: "If Only We Knew" and "Spanish Lady". Is this the album that inspired you for one of my most favorite Wishbone Ash songs?
Willem Ouwerkerk, Arnhem The Netherlands.
Steve and I did used to listen to John Handy in the 60s and there was one piece that had a similar mood to sections of our tune although I suspect it would be hard to spot, existing mainly in our imaginations. Another tune which I believe did have an influence was a piece by Ed Thigpen and others called "Out of the Storm" - very moody jazz stuff.
The opening bass melody of "Handy" was without doubt influenced by my listening to a lot of albums by Andre Segovia, who I personally regard as a wonderful performer of classical guitar music. I found his "feel" and the passion with which he played trully inspirational at the time. What I was doing was not taken directly from his performances but certainly inspired by.
It is strange and fascinating how music from different times and generations can inspire more creativity. I am only too happy to mention people who have inspired me, and I am aware of bands who have been fired up by our music and gone on to great things themselves. I listen to music for inspiration a lot, and it varies hugely from Dusty Springfield, ABBA, Bob Dylan, Yello to Cirque du Soleil productions and mainstream Classical like Grieg, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. I have a selection of Pavarotti performances which will reduce me to tears sometimes. I listen much too loud for the rest of my family, in the kitchen when I am preparing Italian food for instance, albeit on rare occassions, but I'm off in another world, singing my head off, and loving it.
Great stuff, hope this throws some light,
Martin (15 July 2008)
"Handy" is one of my all time favourite Wishbone Ash songs. I certainly prefer it to "Phoenix", which I think has been played to death. Can you remember why "Handy" was dropped from the Wishbone Ash setlist so early on, and more to the point, is there any chance that MTWA might resurrect it, please?
This piece of music starts with me playing pseudo-classical melodies on a bass (trying to play like Andre Segovia whom I listened to a lot around that period), then dives into a moody little jam symptomatic of WA first playing in a room together, then heads off into a whacky jazz based thing. In short it is what we used to call a "sellotape job", meaning several bits of music morphed together, which is OK but it does hark back to what Steve and I were doing in the 60s with the Empty Vessels somewhat. My bass for instance was a tiny home made instrument I played back then and a very different beastie to what I perform on now. It served a purpose in giving us a previous remnant from the 60s to try and involve Andy and Ted into what we had been doing at the first stage of our getting together, so it is a valid documantation in some respects, but was quickly superseded by the direction in which the band went musically which was really quite different. I hope you can make some sense of all this waffle, I do not dismiss it completely - maybe it will be performed one day, but I think it is unlikely, to be honest, such a strange little cameo of almost pre-WA that it is and always will be, in my head. Glad you like it however,
Martin (15 July 2008)
I went to your concert at the Flowerpot on Friday night and thought it was brilliant. I've grown up with Wishbone Ash as my Dad is a fan, I am thankful for having older parents; otherwise I'd have missed out on all this great music. Chart stuff now doesn't have the magic. I play guitar and wondered if you have any tips for me as a young musician? Or getting into the music industry. Thanks for making Friday a brilliant night, I will be on the look out for further concerts.
I'm glad you enjoy the old organic music, that's good. Advice for a young musician - I have kids who are into music and really todays generation have to make their own contacts and follow their own instincts, as did we when we started out. You need to be in the right place at the right time, tricky Flickity, but be positive and if you really want it to happen and you can plant the blueprint into your subconcious, then it will happen for you. Be careful what you wish for though because when it arrives it can turn out to be a double edged sword - bring just as many problems as it fixed! Don't worry, it will all be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end !
Best of luck,
Martin (12 July 2008)
Were any other names ever considered as a title for the Wishbone Fouralbum?
ie. No Easy Road.
What can I say Fubbster,
There were four of us, it was our fourth year, fourth album, 1974 was looming, everywhere you looked it was "four". Fourplay. I know its not the most original title but arguably better than Son of Argus, which it really wasn't. If there were any other titles, well it was a long time ago - I fourget.
Martin (11 July 2008)
Really loved watching the videos of you guys playing with Ted again. Any plans to make him a permanant fixture?
Cheers guys keep up the good work!
I can't see Ted being a permanent fixture anywhere really - he moves around quite a bit. I spoke to him the other day and he sounded fine despite the fact that he had a dislocated finger and a busted foot. I think he said he was climbing the stairway to heaven and it broke. He'll mend up soon enough I'm sure. We would all like to see him playing again and he is always welcome to join me when he feels so inclined. He is a great guitar player, in my humble opinion and I'll always be proud to stand on a stage and play music with him.
Martin (11 July 2008)