Today’s #WMYC guest is Joe Martin. Joe has recently released the gorgeous single Heartbreak Cult, and it’s clear from that song alone that he writes with empathy far beyond his years. His storytelling style draws heavily from his many influences, and it’s that ability to turn influence into something unique that has seen him perform to acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, though, Joe is telling us all about #whatmadeyoucountry.
I grew up listening to a lot of different genres and artists from 50’s swing like Sinatra, 60’s pop like The Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis and 70’s country-folk like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills and Nash and all those guys and when I started getting serious about songwriting I started leaning more towards the country stuff because of the amazing stories country songs portray. Take a song like ’She Thinks I Still Care’ by George Jones. There’s nothing clever or fancy about the lyric and that story has been told a thousand times before. But it’s almost like poetry written in conversational language. That’s what I love so much about the genre and what I strive for when writing a song.
The first country song I ever heard was probably by Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton. Classic! But the song that changed my life (and I know it can be a cliché to say that but it’s true!) is a song called ‘No One Will Ever Love You’. I first heard it on one of the early episodes of the show ‘Nashville’. What was so powerful about it was the chorus melody kept repeating over different chords and it sounded really haunting. The lyric has a really nice twist too. It had everything! The moment I heard that song I thought ’this is what I’ve been looking for. If this is what country music is, that’s what I want to do!’ I actually met the writer of the song, John Paul White, on an excursion to Muscle Shoals Alabama. But that’s a whole other story!
The first country gig I saw was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. The Civil Wars, Manchester Apollo. (They’re not strictly Country, more on the Americana side of things). They were the best duo since Simon and Garfunkel in my opinion. Also, they were being supported by this new band at the time called ‘The Lumineers’. They were sat around in a pub after the gig had finished, and I wondered if should go and have a chat with them. But I decided to go and wait in line to meet the Civil Wars instead!
When it comes to major influences, John Paul White is a big one, because I used to be in a duo and all we’d play would be Civil Wars songs, and that was the time I started to write. My other heroes include Andrew Combs, Brent Cobb, Charlie Worsham, Jason Isbell and Margo Price.
Only one country album for the next ten years – that’s a tough one! I’d have to say ‘All These Dreams’ by Andrew Combs. The songs are perfect, the production is perfect, there’s not much I can fault with that album!
Joe’s new single, Heartbreak Cult, is available to stream and download everywhere now. You can follow Joe on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit his website to keep up to date with his latest music releases.