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Marty talks about music appreciation, AAE and The Church Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 November 2000
This is a very interesting, and long, interview with Marty. It came from http://www.martywillsonpiper.net/html/issInterview.htm

Ink & Second Sight Interview Marty

Some time ago we asked Marty if we could run an interview with him in Ink & Second Sight Issue 3. We didn?t get a ?Yes?, and we didn?t get a ?No?. We got an invitation: ?Why don?t you come round to my flat and we?ll listen to some music??.

Would YOU say ?No? to an offer like that from someone with 20,000 records? Exactly. Neither would we.

We find ourselves sitting in a large, high ceilinged room. It?s a musical - and literary - Aladdin?s cave. Records, CDs, cassettes, books and videos run from floor to ceiling. There?s even a ladder to reach the high shelves. Two guitars sit on stands in a corner, and several more line up in their cases behind a mixing desk. With all this stuff in here the room should feel cluttered, but it doesn?t.

As the turntable spins and the needle comes gently down on the first piece of vinyl we?ve no idea where the evening will take us?.

Marty : This is an amazing record. I love this. Go spend your 18 quid on your CD but give me this anytime. This is ethnic music from some Russian Islamic state...

I&SS:That?s a collision you don?t hear very often.

It?s fantastic, I just love it. You can?t judge 

it by it?s being obscure, you?ve got to judge it on what it is. If you sit down and put this record on, if you sit down and actually listen to it, I mean LISTEN to it - you get the bean bag and put it there, right in between the speakers and you turn it to just the right volume and you?re by yourself, you listen to every little melodic bit of it, it really works. It?s amazing because the rhythms are all weird, the instruments are all weird, the tempo of all the songs is weird.

It?s only weird because of what you know.

That?s right, it?s not weird to them. If you said to them, right, here?s a drum kit, I want to hear a 4/4 beat and I sat down at the drums and went (makes sound of a 4/4 drum pattern), they can?t do it, they can?t even do it. It?s amazing, it?s fascinating. I?m a great believer in all this wonderful, wonderful music in the world. That?s why I hate Eminem (all laugh). They?re talking about him being innovative but it?s narrow.

And is that the only reason you hate him?

It?s not that I don?t like him, it?s just that I don?t like that talky thing. I?m not into that talky thing unless it?s real poetry, which it isn?t. If you?ve read this (picks up a book off the table by 19th century French poet Rimbaud) which he wrote when he was 19, then you would know that it isn?t poetry. But why am I having to tell everybody that. THIS is poetry.

But Eminem?s music is the poetry of the audience it?s targeted at, isn?t it?

Yeah but people who are going to live in the suburbs in 10 years and not like music any more, or even buy any records. Great, let?s talk to people who aren?t going to have any passion for it in the end. It?s nostalgia for the boring people of the future. That?s what he is. (puts on funny voice) ?I remember when I used to listen to Eminem. I don?t buy records any more. I don?t have time for records any more because now I live in Greenford.?

Is that partly because music gets associated with a time and a place?

Yeah, people associate music with something they did in their past. That?s why you?ve gotta love the Fairport crowd. What?s the matter with people, can?t they see that the Fairport crowd is a phenomenon in its own right? It?s amazing that there?s people that old who are every year coming out to see it again.

You know, I love that about it. I mean is it really that what?s happening for 16 year olds is VITAL and what?s happening for the over 50s is a joke. Is that really the truth?

And if Eminem is an example of why teenage music is vital and fogey music isn?t then I fucking can?t subscribe to it because it?s not that brilliant. I?m not saying that it?s terrible or that it should be banned. I don?t care, I think it?s great that he does what he does and says what he does. All power to him, live and let live. Honestly, that?s what I think. BUT I cannot accept that outside of him all these other areas are supposed to be so awful.

When I started buying albums, bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, everybody raved about them at the time, but now the same people say ?oh, what?s happening now is great and all that?s crap?.

I always had a really super-scratched copy of [Sabbath?s] Volume 4. I?d bought it  secondhand for 2 quid or something and it was really badly scratched. Then in about  1985 or something I was in this shop and I found it on CD and I thought ?fuck, now

THAT?s a record?. Talk about replacing your vinyl with CDs. That?s one I really need to do this with because it?s fucked, it?s always been fucked and I really like the record. So I bought it and the fucking guys in The Church, they just so gave me shit about it.  ?You bought a Sabbath album !?

It?s like 1985, the uncoolest time in the world for metal cos everyone was into The Smiths. But I had all the Smiths records too, but I also really like Black Sabbath Volume 4.

And then Nirvana came out and Kurt Cobain, who everybody decided was a genius, said ?Sabbath, one of our biggest influences?. And all of a sudden, you know ?oh, you?ve got Volume 4?. It was cool again. And it was like, I don?t give a fuck if you think it?s uncool, I don?t give a fuck if you think it?s cool. I just like it, you know.

And please let me buy it, and then listen to The Carpenters, then listen to Type O Negative, and then listen to Kings Of Convenience, then AC/DC, then Joni Mitchell, then John Martyn and then Bob Fox. Surely, surely I can love all different kinds of music without always having to justify one genre to somebody who?s into another genre.

It seems that if you like one particular style you?re not allowed to like anything else.

That?s right, and I have this thing where cos I?ve got 20,000 records I have people come round here all the time and I always have to think to myself? ?right, they?re not gonna like the Zeppelin, but they might like Massive Attack.... Right, or they?re not gonna like the Madonna Ray Of Light album but they could possibly like the David Gray record?.

When I?m here by myself I get my 5-cd player and I put in David Gray, Black Sabbath Volume 4, the unreleased Badfinger album, Kings Of Convenience and The Small Faces. And I just rotate them all. And each one comes on and I go ?great?.

But you?re in the minority, aren?t you?

Yes, unfortunate isn?t it? Look at a record like this. Manitas De Plata with Brigitte Bardot on the cover right, and the songs are called Hommage a Pablo Picasso, Hommage a Salvador Dali, Hommage a Jean Cocteau... Brigitte Bardot, you know. I mean this is such a beautiful item, it?s just unbelievable.

What the hell does it sound like?

It?s flamenco. It?s fantastic flamenco. It?s just the most fantastic music, passionate, beautiful music. That?s a serious record, a very rare record.

And this is one of the most beautiful records in the world. This is Duduk music from Armenia. And the title of this album is I Will Not Be Sad In This World. What a beautiful, beautiful title. Duduk music. And there?s this one guy [Djivan Gasparyan] who is an expert at playing this particular instrument, it?s kind of a weird flute. Eno said ?without doubt one of the most beautiful and soulful recordings I?ve ever heard?.

It?s only his opinion though isn?t it?

Yeah, but just listen to this, it?s just so beautiful?. (puts record on)

Now just imagine you?ve got all the lights off, you?re sitting there by yourself, just totally concentrating on the record. It just so takes you... This is just so beautiful. You see, in England there?s a tendency to hear music like this and just go ?ha, ha, ha?.

?They haven?t progressed to our level and they don?t know how to make music like we do?, that sort of attitude.

That?s right, but it?s so haunting and beautiful.

It?s fantastic, but it?s the sort of thing nobody  would consider looking at.

When are we going to start being open minded about music? When are we going to say ?contemporary doesn?t necessarily mean cutting edge?. And out there in the world, they?d have us believe that Madonna is cutting edge and Eminem is innovative. Now I don?t have a problem with Eminem or Madonna at all.

There?s got to be room for everything.

Yes, but I refuse to accept that they are the top of the pile, that?s all. And I keep on being told that they?re the top of the pile.

If somebody tells me that Steps are top of the pile because they?re having a hit then we all know it?s just Steps having a hit. But with things like Madonna and Eminem, what they?re telling us is they are top of the pile because they really deserve to be there, because they really are cutting edge and because people with brains are really going ?wow, this is right on the fucking front line?, you know, and it?s not.

What worries me about Madonna and Eminem is that people who I respect believe in it. That?s what worries me. But if I say to them have you ever heard Duduk music from Armenia, they just don?t want to know. They think I?m being willfully obscure. And I?m not.

The difficulty with this is, where?s the avenue for it to be heard? That?s the problem. And that?s why the music we consider top of the pile perpetuates itself. We never hear anything different.

Now, there?s this guy who?s an absolute genius. Esquivel - do you know about Esquivel? When I play this music to people, they just don?t believe it. Esquivel is 50?s, it?s so far ahead don?t even start asking me about it because it leaves everybody behind. Esquivel is a South American composer and arranger who had this amazing vision of music and sound. [The album] See It In Sound is like sampling. It?s like he sampled all these things and brought them into the music. It?s really interesting.

It?s so out-there?visionary. He released his last album in 1968. His LAST album.  Born in 1918. It?s a sound feast, full of innovation and originality. It?s so unusual. So we have genius like that... now tell me Eminem is innovative !

Everyone likes different stuff.

Yeah but why? Do people think I?ve made it up that I like this? Obviously not, right? So why? Why do I like this?

It?s not that I don?t like some of the things I hear [on the radio]. There?s the occasional crap song which gets through to me, like that Sugababes song. Did you ever hear that? (sings the hook) I really like that song. And I really like that? (sings more)? Black Coffee is it called? All Saints. I love that, I think that?s great. That?s a great song.

Maybe you like such a wide range of music because you?re a musician?

But musicians don?t like this [Esquivel]. It?s not a musician thing. Why are they telling you that Madonna is innovative? Why are they doing that? Why?s everybody believing it? Why are people buying into it? I don?t mind what she does. I don?t mind having her records or even hearing them now and again but it?s just the accolades that she gets that I just can?t understand.

It?s like there?s one load of people who love her because she?s an icon and there?s another load of people who love her because they see how she operates and she uses the best people, she does great work but why aren?t they listening to this instead?

Hasn?t that been the same for the last 30 years? Now it?s Madonna, 30 years ago it was someone else. People stop looking for something different.

That?s right, I think they do stop looking for something different. I think innovative is a very dangerous word to bandy around. It?s used far too easily, it really is.

But it?s an ego battle isn?t it. A competition. I hate musicians who are sportsmen and are competing with other musicians to be better or more successful or more interesting, you know? Fuck you, you know? Why can?t we love music for what it is?

I don?t care if somebody?s better than me, I want them to be better than me, you know? I want someone to blow me away with their music. I?ve got so many records that I get blown away by music all the time. The world?s run by all these people who are trying to convince us all the time that you can?t be blown away by music. What it means is that they never buy anybody?s music and they?re not interested in what anybody else is doing.

With all this music to listen to at home do you go out to see bands play live as well?

Yeah I do. Now and again. I saw Patti Smith on New Years Eve in New York, she was just great, just really great.

Do you do that on the same hit and miss basis as you buy your records, go and see people you?ve never heard of?

Yes. I go and see people I love and I go and see people I?ve never heard of with the same vigor and verve I do with people I like. I?ve seen people that I think I like and didn?t and I?ve seen people that I?ve never heard of that I love.

I went to see the Stereophonics in New York a year or so ago. Thought they were bloody awful. I thought they?d be like a sort of good pop band because he?s got that good sort of raspy voice and melodic songs but I was really disappointed.

The problem for me is I like details, so when I go see a band I?d like to sit there and watch every minute of it quietly. When I listen to a record, I?d like to actually sit down and listen to it intensely. And when I read a book, I don?t want any distractions and if I?m watching a film, I don?t want somebody to talk to me during it. I don?t want somebody to say ?blah, blah, blah?. I?m like, ?shut up, I?m watching this and I really don?t want to miss it?. Especially if it?s a foreign film. I love foreign films. I go and see lots of foreign films.

All About Eve & The Church

How do you feel people categorize All About Eve these days?

You know what, what?s really fascinating is that the people who see us as a gothic band see us purely and only as a gothic band, and the people who see us as a folk band see us only purely as a folk band and they can?t escape from their preconceived ideas. It doesn?t matter what we do.

If Yeb [who played with Marty at the Borderline last year] joined All About Eve and we did a reggae album people would say we were a gothic folk reggae band (laughs). It?s unbelievable, just unbelievable.

People aren?t satisfied unless they can categorise us into an area which they?re satisfied with. They get some kind of satisfaction putting us into some little area.

Is that different with The Church?

Well, you know, The Church has been intelligently, beautifully, succinctly classified as an 80s guitar band (laughs). You know what I mean ! It?s like, ?Oh, right, we?ve been together for the whole of the 90s, but we?re an 80s band.? Even though we?ve been together the whole of the 90s. Now it?s a different century! Why are we an 80s band when we made as many albums in the 90s as we did in the 80s?

Isn?t that just because the big hit single was in the 80s?

Well, yeah but surely, surely they can?t be silly enough to just imagine that it?s about when the hit was? Oh, oh excuse me - they can, can?t they. But we had a hit in 1981, we had a hit in 1982, we had a hit in 1987, we had a hit in 1990, you know.

There?s probably a lot of music that people would like but if they see it labeled as ?80s guitar? they don?t want to listen to it.

Yeah, sure, but let?s face it, if The Church had got the exposure in England that all the other crappy guitar bands did then we?d probably be pretty big here cos we?re better than most of them, you know. There?s only a couple of English guitar bands that are anywhere near a patch on us, you know, The Smiths, The Bunnymen... that?s about it really. The Chameleons maybe. I don?t know. There?s not many bands who are really as good as us. Or as interesting as us.

Is that because you never went looking for that exposure thing, or it never worked out?

The thing is The Church don?t have to have any commercial attitude at all. It doesn?t enter the equation. The Manic Street Preachers have to think about their single, all we have to think about is how the record company is going to turn one of the songs into a single. That?s the difference. And they?re huge and full of credibility and we?re really small and nobody really cares apart from the cult followers. Why is that? Hype? The media following it even after it?s passed it?s sell-by date?

We never went ?Good evening, we love you London?, you know. And it?s an Australian band. Well, supposedly.

The Church has just made one of the most vital records it?s ever made.

I bet there?s a lot of people think you?re Australian as well.

Oh yeah, sure. If you look in the Guiness Book Of Independent Music up there (points to a row of books) it says I was born in Sweden.

Which is not true.

Hey, not that I know of.

It says it in print, so it must be right !

There you go, so that?s just it... everything is hearsay isn?t it, and influence. That?s why you should read a review and buy a record that it says is crap. Because you never know.

A lot of the reviews of stuff I buy do say it?s crap anyway. How do you judge quality when you put stuff out? How do you know ?here?s a track that?s good it?ll go on the album, here?s a track that?s not quite up to it, let?s leave it on the shelf?.

Instinct I suppose. You know, sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong. Definitely.

Hanging Out In Heaven Tracks

Is that what happened with the two new ?Hanging Out In Heaven? tracks. Were they leftovers from all the other stuff you wrote over those years or are they new tracks?

They?re leftovers, they?re songs I never got recorded because.... because one?s kind of a bit of a novelty song, lyrically, and the other?s a country song. So I didn?t record them. One?s called The Queen In Her Jeans, it?s like a novelty sort of thing, and the other?s called Dressed Up As You, and it?s a country song. You know, a real country song.

Mmmmm.... (laughs)

(Marty goes hunting in a big pile of unmarked CDs on the floor)

So you ready for this? You sure you can deal with this? It?s not mastered yet.

(plays ?The Queen In Her Jeans?)

So, you know, it?s a worthy extra track, you know what I mean. It?s a funny little vignette.

I quite like it, it?s kind of? what?s the word? what?s the word?

It?s supposed to be tongue in cheek.

Yeah, you can see that it?s got a sense of humour about it.

It?s supposed to be like a cross between The Divine Comedy and Viv Stanshall.  You know who Vivian Stanshall is - the Bonzos. It?s supposed to be like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Sort of intellectual comedy. And lyrics, you know, it?s all about lyrics. It?s always about lyrics.

(plays ?Dressed Up As You?)

Quite a few people might get a surprise with that one.

Yeah, sure, yeah, but that?s good that they?re surprised.

That definitely sounds different, doesn?t it.

That song really does surprise you, I think it?s great, I?m really happy with how that?s turned out, lyrically, melodically and the sound of my voice.

On some songs with that country feel there?s probably not a lot going on lyrically, is there...

Yeah, that?s right, well it?s about the lyrics again ?can I pour you another glass of wine - it?s lain here unopened for some time - I?ve been keeping it for birthdays or new years - to celebrate a lifetime of my fears?.

You know, that?s a happy verse for me, a successful lyrical verse, not a happy verse, a successful lyrical verse.

I think that those are nice little welcome additions to it [the Hanging Out In Heaven double LP] actually, I think they?re gonna fit in really nicely. You can see why I didn?t record them, but you can see how they work now that I did. It?s a funny thing. They weren?t really contenders for it, but now I?ve done it they seem very right, you know.

The Church - 'After everything?now this'

I haven?t played you anything by The Church, have I? The new stuff?.  This is a very early rough version of a song that I sing on the new Church album. It?s called Chromium.

(plays ?Chromium?)

Is the rest of it going to be that good?

You like that?

I can?t put my finger on why I like it but, yeah, I like that a lot. I don?t know why but after about 20 seconds I just knew I was going to like that track.

Yeah, sure, it?s moody, it?s got good words, you know. It?s got good guitar in it.

The finished version is going to sound pretty much like that I guess, yeah? Probably?

Well? uhh..  tchhhh? I don?t know. I just don?t know really.

(plays another new Church song)

It sounds more accessible on first listen than ?Hologram Of Baal?.

Hologram Of Baal is quite dense.

A few people who went were disappointed that Steve [Kilbey] didn?t play any of the new songs on Friday [23rd Feb] when he played in New York.

Oh right, of course not, he wouldn?t know how to play them.

That?s what they concluded! (all laugh)

They?re too hard. They?re too hard to just play like that. I?m the guitarist and I wouldn?t know how to play them! And he?s not even the guitarist. You gotta know the chords. I don?t know what the chords are. They?re too hard.

Is that why the tour keeps getting delayed?

It?s so complex playing this stuff? really complex.  Arpeggios and stuff. I said to Tim  [Powles] when he?s mixed this record he?s gotta make a CD of just my guitar parts. Otherwise, don?t even ask me to come to rehearsals. Cos I can?t do it. I have to hear what I?m doing separate from the rest cos it?s just a big blend of guitars and I?ve no idea what I?m playing. I have to hear it on a separate CD, just me.

And that?s partly because it was recorded so long ago as well, presumably?

Well it is that, but it?s just too hard.

Is the release date sorted out yet?

Do you mean is it gonna come out this year? I don?t know, when Tim?s ready. It was supposed to come out sometime in June. But now it may come out early next year. If it?s out this year we?ll probably do some gigs in September. So I don?t know, you know, it?s already 6 months late. It seems like we?ve been working on it for years.

Is that the trouble though when you get something like that and it almost outstays it?s welcome. Although I suppose with this one, because you like it so much, maybe that?s not a problem.

Well, I?ve been trying not to listen to it actually. I?ve just been trying to keep fresh about it by not listening to it. Tim must be just sick to death of hearing it, or hearing about it. But I haven?t done that, I?ve been able to ignore it, which is probably good. I?ll have the freshest ears for listening to it out of everybody, which is good. Somebody has to know what it really sounds like instead of getting bombarded with it and then trying to make an opinion about whether it?s good or bad. But I mean, why am I even saying that. A, it doesn?t matter if it?s good or bad because it just is now. And B, I know I like it, and I don?t care what anybody else thinks.

It?s a funny thing. You want people to like what you do, but when they say they don?t like it and you do, you don?t care.

Doesn?t that come down to who you?re doing it for?

Yeah, you?re doing it for yourself, but you want other people to like it. Which is a funny thing though really, cos I?m doing it for myself but if people don?t like it I?m gonna go uuughh?.. but then if somebody starts telling me why they don?t like it I don?t want to know. Well, I do want to know, but I?m just not affected by it, as a thing. You know, if somebody says what you do is crap, I mean. pffff?

Source: This is an edited extract from an indepth interview printed in Ink & Second Sight - the official All About Eve magazine. This issue is still available and you can order it online at Candytree. Elsewhere in this issue you'll find more about the two new Hanging Out In Heaven songs and the Church tracks mentioned above, as well as Marty's new cover of Big Star's Thirteen and a new version of All About Eve's - Martha's Harbour by Carlo van Putten that Marty plays on

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 December 2004 )
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