Posted in Bands We've Chatted With

Martin John Henry

I must confess that ‘Mend’ was dutifully downloaded as it came out on Chemikal. At that time, I was juggling 4 emusic accounts and with the pricing structure then they must have been virtually giving your music away. Listening to it again, it was my loss. At the time, I never seriously got past the first 2 songs. What are your thoughts on the benefits and perils of the digital download age?

Prevention’ on the other hand was a revelation. It seemed like a completely different band and quickly became a favourite and then, almost instantly it seemed, the split was announced. Did the relative change in direction contribute to the solo career?

“With regards to the digital question; I think that it’s amazing, and it’s levelled the playing field, allowing even the newest bands a fantastic platform for creating and distributing music in lots of different communities. I realise that a lot of revenue has been lost or diverted from artists though, and I don’t have any real opinion on this, I guess because I’ve never really made any money from music. I do a lot of other things to support myself in between making albums and touring, so I can’t say that downloading is killing my income or anything.

As for the De Rosa question? The second album was a natural progression from ‘Mend’, which we largely recorded as a three piece. The change in sound happened when the band grew into a five piece. We got two new members before writing for ‘Prevention’, Andrew Bush on keys and Chris Connick on second guitar.

De Rosa took years to get to a point that functioned well, which it did during our last two years. I guess by the point that we were achieving a decent profile we had already begun to run out of steam. Struggling for about five years to get a good line up together took its toll on the relationships of the core members, which was sad. Things are better between us these days though, and I think that we made two great albums, regardless of our struggles.”

This time around, I ordered ‘The Other Half of Everything’ directly from you. It is a lovely soaring record that manages to both sound familiar and fresh at same time. I’m particularly fond of ‘Seventh Song’. It reminds me of James’ “Top of the World” in terms of its emotional impact. Could you provide a little background on its inspiration?

“Seventh Song was something I wrote late at night a long time ago, maybe about six years ago. It was inspired by a foolish attempt at rekindling a broken relationship between two people that should not be together. I was listening to a lot of Red HousePainters and ‘I See a Darkness’ era Will Oldham.”

You must be pretty happy with the reception to the new record. Has anything pleased you especially?

“The Mogwai remix of my song ‘Breathing Space’ is fantastic! I’m especially excited about being away on tour with Agnes Obel in the UK at the moment. Her album Philharmonics is superb, and her band are a lovely bunch of folk, I’m having a great time. Also I’m really happy at how well the album has been received by the Scottish music media, people like The Skinny, Glagow PodcArt and Vic Galloway have been so supportive.”

What was the release show with Adam Stafford and the Seventeenth Century like?

“It was a great night. I was so proud of the guys in my band, they learned the whole album so quickly and it sounded great. Adam is doing so well just now, I think he’s so creative with everything he does, he’s a great film maker too. The Seventeenth Century are so good at writing beautiful songs that it makes me jealous. I can’t wait to hear the album they make.”

What Scottish bands have moved you?

“Current bands… I think Mogwai are the best band on the planet. And I’ll follow Malcolm Middleton until the end of everything. From the past, I like The Blue Nile, especially ‘Hats’, and I also love the wonderfully weird songs of the folk singer Hamish Imlach.”

Back before everything, as a young lad I was faced with the choice of spending my hard earned money on U2’s ‘Boy’ or Ultravox’s ‘Rage in Eden’. I knew absolutely nothing about either band at the time. I chose the Ultravox purely based on album design and at the impressionable age of 16 you can imagine how much the actual record had an impact on me.  Do you have a similar story from your youth? Your first encounter with something special?

“My dad gave me a tape of ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana when I was eleven. It changed everything. Before that I liked the Beatles and Michael Jackson. Nirvana’s music was landscape-changing to me. Also, the way they used interviews to put young music listeners onto other bands was so great. It was through reading these interviews that I got into Sonic Youth, The Vaselines, Pixies and loads more amazing stuff that is still a big part of my life today. God bless Nirvana.”