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:: Spotlight :: The Calm Before The Storm - Jeff Martin on his Solo Tour and ‘The Armada’

By: Christina Giuffre

Jeff Martin is a Canadian guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer; best known for fronting the rock band ‘The Tea Party’. Martin was raised in one of Canada’s most southerly towns; Windsor, Ontario and started playing the guitar at just 8 years old. At 11 years old he formed his first band and began to really grow as a musician. In his early teenage years he was taken with blues and began jamming with professional bands from Windsor and Detroit. Inspired by the instrumentation of ‘Within You Without You’ from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Album, Jeff then developed a fascination with eastern tunings and instruments. He has worked with artists such as Tenth Planet and Hundred Mile House and has recorded with David Usher, Conjure One and Todd Kerns.

Martin began his career as a solo artist in October 2005 when The Tea Party disbanded. He is now touring Australia to perform the first completely solo acoustic show he has performed in the country, while promoting his new band the Armada and their debut release. Jeff Martin and legendary percussionist Wayne Sheehy are on a mission with the Armada and anticipation is building for the October debut release. Martin has described the release as ‘a monster’ and is happy to be back to ‘some pretty serious rock and roll’ music. The album will be released as a limited edition DigiPack exclusively available on Jeff Martin's website

everyone is really excited about the new direction you are taking with the Armada and I’m sure your loyal Tea Party fans would love to hear more about what you are up to and what they can expect from the new album.
Firstly, is the Tea Party finished and what did you take away from being the front man of the band?[/b]

Yes, the Tea Party is finished! I’ve taken with me a lot of experiences along the way. Basically, it was like living a certain lifestyle for 15 years. The trials, tribulations, the glory, the mistakes and the lessons learned are what I’m bringing to the Armada.

What has changed since your days with the Tea Party?

When the Tea Party broke up I just needed to be still, to realise what I was as part of that band. That’s the reason I brought everything back down to the acoustic level but at the same time to say that I was ‘bringing it down’ was a bit of an understatement, as it was actually very challenging to be that musically naked. What it did was instill my passion for music again. I kind of found my muse, the oldest muse, my dreams, my focus and all that. I eventually knew that I would get back to rock and roll but it had to be at the right time, with the right people and in the right circumstances, and that time has now come.

How would you describe your personal style of music?

That’s a tough one! You know, it is rock and roll music but it can be pretty exotic, very sensual, very dark and very joyous at the same time. It encompasses a lot of emotion.

Growing up, which artists inspired your growth as a musician and why?

There were many bands that I modelled my career on or who were my templates, especially in rock and roll and blues. In particular, Led Zeppelin was a big influence for me. I found that if you put all the bands from that era into one headspace, that’s kind of where I am now.

Who are some of the talented people that you have worked with in your music career?

Definitely Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood, who were the other two members of the Tea Party, Jeff and Stuart, are incredibly talented musicians. Also, Roy Harper who is an English folk musician has always been a big mentor to me and a very dear friend. Jimmy Cage is also someone I have gotten to know over the years and it is a good thing when your hero becomes your friend. I have met so many talented people in my career and it has been an incredible life so far.

The word Armada has connotations of war, how did the name of your new band come to be chosen?

Basically, my partner Wayne Sheehy and I wrote the directives together and the part of Ireland where we both lived has a very strong history, particularly when the French Armada came to the aid of the Irish at one point in the 1700s, to rid them of British rule. So, there’s a lot of Armada symbolism around where we lived. When Wayne and I were half way done in creating this new record we kind of sat back and said, ‘Well, what the hell is this (the music)?’The sound comes at you from all fronts. There are so many different musical styles involved and although it’s just him and me, it sounds like a band! Wayne brought it up when he said, “It’s kind of like the Armada, an attack and defence.” That’s where the connotation came from and it makes sense. It’s like when you go on tour you are on a ship, you have your mates, you come into port, you do your business and then you leave. It’s a big rock and roll ship!

How did you come to work with Wayne Sheehy and what does this bring to the Armada album?

Wayne and I met in a little, little, tiny town of about 200 people close to where I lived in Ireland and this was where Wayne grew up. We met in a pub there and hit it off immediately. He kind of had an idea of who I was and I had an idea of who he was and the more we got to know each other, the more we found out. We have a mutual respect for one another. The things we have gone through in our careers just reinforced the point of making music together. Once we started doing that, there was really nothing to hold us back and we both decided it was time to go back into the ring. I had been doing a lot of producing and my solo set acoustically and he was doing a lot of session work in Ireland. Wayne is a very sought after session drummer in Ireland, he’s like Van Morrison, Ron Wood from the Stones and Robert Palmer; you know when he was alive. Wayne and I both come from pretty strong musical pedigrees. At the time we met we weren’t sure that we really wanted to go back to the circus that is rock and roll because we both had our fame and had made our money. We were no longer doing it for a living but we needed to work out why we were doing it. There’s got to be a passion there or a fire and we found that in creating music together. So, that’s how the Armada was found.

Tell us more about the Armada album?

It will certainly remind fans of a band from the past (laughs) because it is really not to be helped. I wrote 95% of the music, so it is definitely a reminder of the past but this past character has evolved now and so that has brought heaps to the table. Wayne and I actually wrote The Armada songs together but with the Tea Party I was the sole writer. It was great to have his influence and it’s brought a fresh approach to my song writing. Like I said it will remind people pleasantly of the past but at the same time people will hear a definite elevation as this is the next step.

Do you find that your Tea Party fans have remained loyal and what level of excitement is there for the October release?

The excitement is powerful. When I first made the decision to end the Tea Party I wasn’t the most liked person (laughs). It’s crazy but a small number of people are really holding onto their past loyalties to the Tea Party. I hope that they can now come along and experience this (the Armada) which is not really about reliving the past but a brand new future.

It’s interesting in that when I played my solo show I thought that what would happen is my audience would get older but that’s not the case at all. I have actually seen my audience getting younger! It’s cool because 17 and 18 year olds are like discovering Led Zeppelin for the first time. The Tea Party wasn’t far removed from that sort of sound and the Armada would be the same. It has that connection, that classic sound but at the same time it is doing something brand new. Music is music; I’m not doing it to start a fashion. For me it is about the passion, the attitude, the sex and all that and this is what the Armada is going to bring to the fans.

How do you feel about your first completely solo acoustic show in Australia and what can be expected?

It’s a wonderful position to be in, the foundation that I have here is so passionate and not to be taken lightly. What I want to do is let people make the most of it as it will probably be the last time I do something like this. Some of the older songs I created in the past year, I probably won’t ever approach again. It’s going to be a special evening for those die-hard Tea Party fans. We will close that chapter together and then open a new one.

Tell us about your love of Australia and why you keep coming back?

(Laughs) Well, first of all my little boy was born here (in Perth) and that was an exceptional situation. Not only that, Australia was the first country to really embrace the Tea Party and to embrace the music that I make, so there’s always been that affinity. The friendships that exist and the experiences all make it a very special place for me. That’s why I have chosen it to be the first place internationally and globally where the Armada will perform. So, Australia will be the first place we see on the tour we are doing in November and deservedly so!

Tell us about your most interesting experiences in Australia?

The ones I can talk about or the ones I can’t… (Laughs) There have been some really wild times. Some day I will write a book. I have loved every experience I can remember in Australia.

What have you got planned for the next year or two?

The thing is the Armada is only releasing 10,000 copies of the new record before January 1, 2009 and that’s globally! So the people that are just dying for it should really get a copy as soon as they can. And let me tell you on January 1st next year something much bigger is going to happen and it is at that point that everything changes. I can’t really disclose what that is but when the 10,000 CDs get released - BE QUICK!

The new CD is set to be released in October this year and is exclusively available through the website. To find out more about Jeff Martin and the Armada or to purchase the CD please visit the official site

Upcoming Australian tour dates
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
THE EVELYN HOTEL with Dave Larkin & Jaimi Faulkner

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
THE EVELYN HOTEL with Dave Larkin & Jaimi Faulkner

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
THE BASEMENT with Jaimi Faulkner

For more information, visit

www.jeff-martin.net