Martyn Joseph is a performer like no other: Shades of Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews there may be - but he stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives delivering his "songs of lyrical intelligence" according to BBC Radio 2's Bob Harris.

December 24, 2010 9:15 pm

Fans Q and A with Martyn – December 2009

Looking back on the last 12 months for you as an artist, how would you sum up 2009 and how does that shape your outlook for 2010?

– Steve Pledger

Well it was as busy as ever and, although I do feel a bit fatigued at times, its great to feel things are still building after all these years. I feel like I’m right on top of my game as it were and in that sense I’m very much looking forward to next year and all it will entail. The schedule looks a little daunting at times but there is a real sense of things moving ‘up’ and I will be very interested to see where we are at this time next year. I guess the question I ask myself is ‘is what I’m doing vital and relevant to people’ and it seems it is and that means a great deal to me.

Do you find it easy/difficult to adjust to life coming off the road at the end of a tour? Does it take a while or are you simply able to ‘switch modes’, as it were?

– Steve Pledger

It can take a while to adjust back to home life and not having to walk on stage at 8 o`clock. I can now switch fairly quickly between the two, though others around me night beg to differ, but it took a long time to learn how to do that.

We’ve been introduced to some fantastic new material over the last several months and I know you have spoken of plans for working on the next album so, predictable question time: are you able to say when you might hope to record/release it?

-Steve Pledger

It should be ready for release in the Autumn of next year to coincide with concert dates in the UK.

I think we all know which support tour you least enjoyed! but which was the BEST support tour you had, and why?

– Mick Newton

I have enjoyed all the support tours through they years..even the one I think your referring to, but my favourites for musical and other reasons were Art Garfunkel and Ani DiFranco.

Most writers say they compose their best work when they write about what they have personal knowledge of. How then do you feel you are able to write such powerful and personal lyrics about situations you haven’t personally experienced, such as The Good in Me and Five Sisters?

– Steph Lander

That’s a good question and I’m not sure what the answer is. I guess the word empathy is the first thing that comes to mind and perhaps some of that is to do with the craft of writing. You learn to put yourself in others shoes in order to tell the truth of the story. In both the examples you give I take one persons story to tell the story of thousands of others. People can relate to that quickly and easier than grand statements about the futility of war etc. I guess it’s about caring about the world and just wanting everyone to have a fair deal. I have found little peace or happiness in any situation where I was aware that others were not feeling the same.

What is it about the Lowden that makes you such a great partnership?

– Steph Lander

We are just great friends and have spent a lot of time in each other’s company.  It’s as simple as that!

Do you have particularly hard nails or do you coat them with something?  You have such a percussive style it’s hard to see how your nails stay the pace!

– David Hunt

Well to be honest they don’t. The natural nail lasts about two shows if it doesn’t split and then I use plastic nails, which I stick on with super glue. That’s the only way I can get through all the shows!

What strings do you use on the Lowden?

– David Hunt

Elixir Light Guage 12-53’s

What type of pick-ups do you use on your guitars; the Lowden in particular?  You don’t seem suffer feed-back even with the incredible bass end you have.
– David Hunt

I use a Fishman pickup and all the guitars go through an Orchid Pre Amp. I’m going to update the gear page on the web site early next year and that will include a detailed look at my set up on stage.

Has the Bose system your using taken over from the conventional PA set-up?  It sound very good indeed.  Were there auditorium mikes as well, going through the Mill Centre’s system?
– David Hunt

The Bose is a very musical system for me in that I hear exactly what the audience hear and I don’t have to rely on monitors. There are more details of how it works at the Bose web site but if I thought the room needed it then I did put a little of the feed through the house system. I think this was the case at the Mill but the majority of the sound you heard was coming from the Bose.

When you’re not on tour or recording, do you still play the guitars every day, or do they get put away?

– Graham Moss

They are all out in the studio and I will play guitar most days.

Is there anything you feel strongly about that you have never yet written about?

– Graham Moss

Possibly as I’m not sure you can write songs about everything and if you did I think you would be opening yourself up to a ton of criticism. Often songs about one subject will lend themselves to many other issues.

After 29 years of being on the road and been just about everywhere, where would you like to play – somewhere you have not played before?

– Jean Camp

Japan..would love to go and play there.

Knowing what you know now, would you still want to be a musician?

– Janice Turnbull

Probably though I would want to clarify a few things in the contract.

So, my question….well just wondered if Martyn ever got any feedback from the artists he has covered – am particularly thinking about Bebo Norman whose track “Where the Angels Sleep” Martyn covered on WIWTBMHWHTBMH!

– Derek Ramsey

Not many to be honest. I have talked with Bebo but that was before I covered his song. I got nice feedback from Eric Bazillian who write ‘One Of Us’ and Max Boyce’s reaction to Rhondda Grey is still on my answering machine to make me laugh in times of despair!

Do you have any ideas for song material these days that you would never have considered writing about a few years ago?

– Lauren Casey

I have never written anything off in terms of ideas or sources for material.

Would you ever consider recording a Run To Cover 2?

– Lauren Casey

Yep but right now I cant se that happening for some time as there are other projects I want to try and do first.

As a listener, what do you look for in a musician?

– Maxine Dolman

I think it’s a mixture of passion, taste and humility and a sense lyrically of the reality of life for those listening.

I expect you are asked this often, but with so much time touring and giving to others how difficult is it to be there for your precious family. How do they cope?

– Hilary Nickell

Just fine it seems! There are only three kids to look after when I’m away.

Which 3 albums do you never get tired of hearing?

– Julie Randalson

The Way It Is   Elvis

Joshua Tree    U2

Ghost of Tom Joad  Bruce Springsteen

When you’re writing a new song, do you sit down purposely to write, or can an idea suddenly hit you when you are for example in the supermarket? If so, how do you keep the ideas or the melody in your head until you can write them down?

– Julie Randalson

Ideas come at all times but if I don’t have anything to record the idea with then I will try to think of a melody similar to it that I know and that will usually get me close when I need to remember it.

Have you ever written a song that you immediately know is going to be an important one to the fans? Or does that realisation come once you get out on the road and you start playing them for audiences?

– Tracey Warrilow

Some songs seem to move the air more than others and you usually get a sense of that early on. Very occasionally I will get quite emotional about something that has appeared and in that moment you get a big sense that its going to be an important song.

Your style of playing guitar is pretty unique as it encompasses a fusion of styles which you have made your own, but who has been your biggest influence? You will probably tell me I’m wrong, but I would suggest that the British folkies ( Bert Jansch, John Renbourne, Davey Graham amongst others) have added a little bit to your particular technique?

– Simon Lord

To be honest, whilst I respect those named and realise that I lean their way I haven’t listened extensively to them. My influences mainly came from across the pond and in particular the huge volume of work by Bruce Cockburn. The percussive style of Ani DiFranco has been a case for study in recent years but John Martyn would be a key British influence.

Do you ever write to the children individualy when you are away? David wrote to both our daughters when they were away – and they  both treasured that so much. Mum’s write, but rarely fathers.

– Gill Atkin

Yes I do though these days its email rather than letters. It’s always been very important to me to stay closely in touch when I’m on the road for my sake as much as theirs. We are all very close.

As The Globe is Steve Knightley’s local, my question concerns The Bridgerow Sessions which I bought when I first saw Martyn perform at the MADA at The Phoenix in 2008. Martyn, this is a beautiful, thought-provoking album. A meeting of minds in which you and Steve are motivated to write about similar themes which prick your consciences. Will there be a future collaborative recording? A Bridgerow Revisited, if you will?

– Simon Twigg

Possibly at sometime. I’m sure Steve and I will do more shows together so it would make sense to explore some more recording together.

As a keen guitar player myself I would love to know what tunings you use to get such a great sound for example turn me tender is one of my favourites. I have seen you several times and love your music, really enjoyed the singer song writer session you did at Greenbelt this year and would love to be able to have go at some of your songs.

– Peter Barnes

Turn Me Tender is in standard tunning with the Capo on the 8th fret. I use G as the root chord. My other tunings are a dropped D or a dropped D and G down to an F sharp. That’s about it to be honest. I will do more on this on the gear page when we update it at the site in early 2010.

Is there any instrument you can’t play that you wished you could?

– Belinda Peddle

I love to be able to play the piano well, I mean beyond the chords and basic stuff I can do. Maybe violin or cello. Cello is my favourite instrument after guitar.

When will the next bootleg CD be produced?

– Belinda Peddle

We will probably release the next volume in the next six months.

You mentioned about playing with a full band next year which sounds a great idea (definitely time to release that inner Springsteen!), so when is it likely to be and will you be coming to the South West?

– Linda and Brian Carroll

I would like to try it out and see where we go. I think the new album will reflect this too and I’m sure we will spread the shows across the country.

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