Martha who hail from Pity Me near Durham released their second album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart on July 8. Martha comprises of J. Cairns on guitar, Daniel Ellis on guitar, Naomi Griffin on bass, and Nathan Stephens Griffin on drums, all of whom share singing and song writing duties .
Martha have been busy since the release of their 2014 debut Courting Strong not only with their own band, but also playing for others. Daniel and Nathan also play in Onsind, while Naomi also plays in No Ditching.
The band will be heading out on a UK tour later this month and play Bristol’s exchange on July 23. Andy Howells recently put questions to Nathan from the band.
How did Martha come together and what was the inspiration for the band’s name?
Naomi and I are siblings. We’ve known Daniel since we were toddlers. We met JC when we were a bit older, playing in bands as teens. We all have similar tastes and views on the world, so we decided to try and start a pop band together. We’re named after the last surviving passenger pigeon. She died in the early twentieth century and the species was extinct. It’s fitting because we all care about animals, and we like to think we can look back and learn from the past.
Its two years since your debut Courting Strong, how have you developed as a band in that time?
Mainly we’ve just tried to get better at what we do, especially with the craft of song writing. It’s been harder to exist as a band, as some of us have gone from being relatively able to do stuff to having much less flexibility and there are all kinds of work and life commitments that have made touring trickier. But it’s also made us appreciate the band more and informed the way we do things and conduct ourselves.
What is the inspiration behind your new album Blisters in the Pit of My Heart?
If the first album was about punks growing up, this one is about grown-ups who stayed punk. It’s a collection of energetic pop songs about struggling to keep doing the things you love in the face of obstacles like money, work, and mental illness. There’s always been a side to what we do that’s been about the intersection between the very sweet and the mucky imperfections of life. There are love songs and sad songs and angry songs.
You have a variety of inspirations on this album. Christine, is a love song taking inspiration from the 1980s Nuclear war TV drama Threads, Precarious (The Supermarket Song) finds romance in the washing powder aisle, and Goldman’s Detective Agency re-imagine s 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians. How do you sit down and come up with such diverse ideas?
We always try to write about what we know, but draw inspiration from worlds beyond our own. I also think it’s important to acknowledge the way that cultural narratives impact on reality and the way we understand and fit ourselves into the world. JC and I both had similar experiences watching Threads, experiencing panic and nightmares, and we’ve both always been morbidly obsessed with the end of the world and nuclear apocalypse. The juxtaposition between that and a very human love story our friend told us seemed fitting, a combination of love and anxiety. We just try and write about stuff that’s interesting and heartfelt. We know that musically we’re not reinventing the real, but I like to think lyrically we sometimes offer something that people won’t or can’t get elsewhere.
You’ll be playing Bristol shortly, what can people expect from the show?
We’re really excited about it because it’s with our friends WOAHNOWS and TWO WHITE CRANES. It’s a really great lineup and we’re very excited to be playing! The past couple of times we’ve played in Bristol it’s been in the amazing cafe/bike workshop ‘roll for the soul’. It’s a shame we won’t be there again this time, but it’s also very exciting to be playing a bigger space and I think the show itself will be really fun- we’ll bring as much excitement and energy as you can handle!
Will you be playing any South Wales shows soon?
We have nothing booked in South Wales but we’d love to come back soon. Possibly in August. We were meant to play Wales Goes Pop! last year but our van broke down so we had to pull out. It was very frustrating and sad. Maybe they’ll ask us back next year.
What are you all listening to at the moment?
Big Star, Thin Lizzy, The Replacements, Tommy Tutone!
- For tickets to Martha’s show on July 23 visit exchangebristol.com
- A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus on July 8, 2016