The Martinis Interview

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The Martinis

Interview with the Martinis, April 2004

This exclusive e-interview of Joey Santiago & Linda Mallari was conducted in late April 2004 by Christophe Gourraud & Jean-Michel Biel for AlecEiffel.net.
Thanks go to Gerry of Distracted Records!

A French version and a Spanish version of the interview are also available.

Alec Eiffel: Could you summarize for us the story of the Martinis?
Joey: One day Linda and I were hanging out and decided to use a four track recorder that we had for a while. It was borrowed, anyway we started writing songs, just putting down ideas. One of the songs that came from the 4 track actually made it on a movie called Empire Record Store. We later re-recorded in a real studio with Matt Wallace for the soundtrack album.
Linda: Joey and I starting writing music for fun - then we decided to start getting a bit more serious about it- Then we decided not to be so serious anymore and that's when the fun began.

Why did it take so long to get a record deal?
J: We turned a couple of deals down because we thought that they were not good enough. So we just took our time. Took a lot of breaks. I started doing other things and kind of just gave up for a while until an engineer we worked introduced us to a label called Guapo whom later changed their name to Distracted Records.
L: I really don't know. It's just the way things turned out.

How would you compare the new album Smitten with your previous self-released CDs?
J: It's a lot poppier and quirkier.
L: Really great production, wonderful songs and a devoted Record Company behind it. The previously released CD was more like a demo that we offered on the Web.

How do you typically come up with a song and work together?
J: Linda writes most of the songs and sometimes I butt in and help out. I add textures and sometimes help out with the bridge if there is one.
L: Something will pop into my head and I'll transfer it onto a 4-track recorder with my voice, either humming or singing words( if I've got some) along with the guitar or piano. Then I'll take it to Joey ( in our home studio) and We'll re-arrange it, add to it and twist it around until it becomes a proper song. I'd like to put words onto some of Joey's Instrumentals one of these days. He's got so many amazing and ambient pieces of music that should be heard.

Your lyrics are usually quite dark and emotional, and often reflect a difficulty of being and finding a place in the world. Why is it so?
L: I think that happens because songwriting is sometimes a catharsis for me. It's a way to purge my emotions creatively. It can sometimes be a diary for me or a way to act-out another person's situation. It's really quite therapeutic.

Does your classical training play an important role in the way you compose?
L: Yes, I think it does. I think it has a lot to do with the way I come up with melodies and the way the other instruments weave in and out of each other - sometimes I imagine a guitar part to sound like a cello or a string part. Perhaps Elevator Music should be our next stop.

Joey, during the Pixies years you did not talk a lot to journalists. Was it your choice, a way not to expose yourself in the press?
J: It was my choice not to do any more press because most of the questions were about the songs and I thought that Charles had a better shot at answering them since he wrote the songs. Plus I got sick of being taken out of context.

Having been part of a band as important as the Pixies can be a curse as much as a blessing. Do you think Joey's past as a Pixy helped or hindered the Martinis?
L: You're right about the Curse and Blessing. Right now I'm taking it as a Blessing. In the past it wasn't always that way. It was hard for me to comprehend why people would be comparing me to artists I thought I sounded nothing like. People's expectations were hightened ,because of Joey's past. I felt a lot of pressure from that - especially since this was my first band. Then you have the disgruntled Pixies fans who would come to the show and decide they didn't like it, because they wanted the Pixies to get back together so desperately. Now, I just take everything with a grain of salt. It is what it is.

How do you intend to promote the album, now that the Pixies are reforming and Joey is going to be on tour for several months?
L: I guess we'll have to rely on the fact that we've made a really great album and people are going to spread the word .

Do the Martinis plan to tour one of these days?
J: Yes.
L: One of these days.

What is the story behind the Pixies reunion? Until recently it seemed that this would never happen.
J: Everything is just great.

You two have roots in the Philippines. What is the place occupied by the Philippines in your lives?
J: My dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.
L: Filipino culture has always played a big part in my family. My father was from Pampanga in the Philippines - most notable for it's Great Cooks! So, rice was always a staple in our home, as well as really Great Food. We have many relatives who live in the Philippines as well as a Medical Mission that my Mom is a part of. Some of my Father's ashes are there - So I will always have a connection to the Philippines.

What are you listening to right now? What's the latest record you've bought? The latest concert you've seen?
J: I'm just lazily listening to music. In my disc changer I have Os Mutantes, Ennio Morricone, Norah Jones (my daughter loves listening to her), Grandaddy and Air.
L: This morning we listened to Josh Groban and in about an hour I'll be watching the Wiggles.

Are you internet users? If so, which use of internet do you make?
J: I use to keep in touch with friends and family.
L: Mostly e-mail and sharing pictures of our daughter with family and friends

Have you already surfed on AlecEiffel.net site (please answer frankly!)?
J: Not yet.
L: Yes, Very nice site.

Some "readers" of AlecEiffel.net are musicians... can you please tell them about the gear that your mainly use in studio, and on stage?
J: In the studio I usually use 2 guitars, a Les Paul gold top and an ES-345. That usually covers most of the tones I like. I have a Marshall JCM 800 and a Fender Vibrolux. I try not to use any pedals.
L: Usually I bring my own Shure microphone because I don't like smelling other people's breath on the Club microphones. Fender Telecaster and Fender Deluxe or I borrow Joey's Vibrolux too.

To end this e-interview, do you have a message for the readers of AlecEiffel.net?
J: Stay healthy.
L: Enjoy Your Stay!

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Last updated 05-01-2004