Martin Stephenson Interview

Taking a break from laying down his friend’s vocals and having a well-earned cup of tea; the Musician or more appropriately ‘The Artist’ Martin Stephenson gives me a glimpse into his life as a spiritual person while he stares across The Cromarty Firth - an arm of the Moray Firth in Scotland. “You can see Cromarty across the water” he says “We’re having a sunny day for a change”.

 

Never one to swerve a conversation about the weather, we bond over nimbostratus and the conversation gently funnels toward the relationship between stormy weather and enhanced creativity. Is there one? It certainly seems that way, I wonder if Martin Stephenson and the Daintees would have ever realised their critically acclaimed album Boat to Bolivia if he was born in – let’s say - Miami?

 

I think I’d be walking around with a Thomas Magnum ‘tash, feeling good and writing dodgy songs. he jokes.

We don’t have to be playing the Harp under a golden tree in the Garden of Love to be an Angel. You can just as easy be an Angel in Salford.

Hailing from the North East, Martin’s rocking a strong Mackem accent that he says ‘seems to be highlighted the more North ya go’.  He now resides in the highlands of Scotland, very much - the song writers dream, but not the only way to achieve solace; he explains.

 

When you’re younger if you’ve been compressed having come out of the education system and you’re trying to make sense of social expectations from others, you will try to counteract that, for me that includes dreaming about Sanctuary - living somewhere remote. But as I got older I realised that meditations also a good deterrent.

 

So you don’t have to be in the Outer Hebrides to find peace?

 

Absolutely, in just the same way we don’t have to be playing the Harp under a golden tree in the Garden of Love to be an Angel. You can just as easy be an Angel in Salford, that’s what I try to get across to people.

 

On the subject of isolation, or ones desire for isolation - i suggested the birth of social media changes the game completely, you can live on the far side of the moon and probably still check your emails.

 

I find you can use technology to create spiritual space. I’ve got a little laptop, now I’m recording with an Apple Mac and Pro tools with logic and I’m able to work with other artists over the internet, but the technologies not over powering, I’m able to keep it to a minimum and I still have a physical connectedness, I don’t let it get in the way.  

 

The way I see it is when Cochise looked out of his Tepee in 1846, if he looked left and saw a McDonalds he’s definitely having a bigmac for tea rather than go hunting for buffalo. If the systems around – use it!

 

Martin signed his first recording deal with London records in the early 80’s, he had the world at his feet with what he describes as "everything that the boy wants", just one insurmountable problem - he didn’t want any of it, he'd been on a life affirming spiritual programme "I went into resistance mode, I was trying to stop" he shares.

 

 

Sometimes other people’s dreams get cross collateralised with your own dreams, we were young and in a band; we had a manager always pushing us one way.

 

I always had a vision of where I was going. When I got older my path seemed more real to me and right.

 

Sometimes you meet other bands and they’re like bad tourists, taking advantage of women and generally getting 'out of it', just egocentric and then you meet other bands that have a heightened awareness, we were a band that cared and it’s not cool for Rock 'N' Roll if you care.

 

We didn’t want to be rock stars, we didn’t want to be bad asses we wanted to be good people -  love people and that cuts your market down, The NME’s not going to like you if you’re like that, they want people who are into razor blades and cocaine and say nasty things.

 

When bands like The Who were throwing TV’s out of the window we’d arrive at our hotel rooms, open our bags and pull out a can of Mr. Sheen – and give the room the once over before we leave.

 

We’ve seen the folk scene enjoying commercial success recently with likes of The Travelling Band and Grammy favourites Mumford and Sons, are you feeling the modern Contemporary folk scene? Is there anyone you think we would enjoy?

 

Mumford and Sons look a bit manufactured to me. I played in Washington DC about 8 years ago and we had a young band supporting us called The Avett Brothers, I remember thinking they were good when they supported us. They remind me of Violent Femmes.

 

New generations come through and the machine will project things into Stella positions - if that happens you have to responsible as a spiritual person and be able to handle it.

 

The kids of today feel like they have a right to be famous and they don’t even know why they want it, it’s almost on the curriculum.

 

Hendrix didn’t want to be famous, he had a gift, he was driven by music, it was the gift that made him famous, and he didn’t have this right to be famous.

 

I like Johnny Marr, I was never a big Smiths fan but what I like about Johnny is he’s worked, and continued to work, Im not interested in who he knows or how many guitars he’s got, I like his work ethic and I respect him for that as a musician and an artist.

 

Martin Stephenson will be playing live this Saturday 6th April when he takes to the stage at Bop Local in Manchester.

 

"Manchester is a brilliant place, from the peak district to Salford to the centre of town; we’re just great people, very creative people. I’m really looking forward to it" Martin concludes with genuine excitement.

 

This new solo tour starts in Manchester and will offer a rare opportunity to catch Martin in an intimate venue on a night that's famed for attracting a crowd that appreciate great artistry. Support by Eliza P. Doors open at 7.30pm.

 

Tickets for this gig at St Clement's Church, Chorlton are £10 in advance via www.boplocal.com or at Piccadilly Records, Manchester. (Tickets will be £12 on the door).

 

‘Effortlessly poignant, intensely private yet incredibly personable.’ BBC 6 Music

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