Thursday, June 10, 2010
Martha Davis of The Motels: No Sleeping Allowed
For some, the eighties was a decade of forgettable fashion, absurd trends and not the greatest melting pot of music. I would beg to differ with alot of those people, for I grew up in the eighties too. One of my fondest memories was discovering the sultry voice of Martha Davis of The Motels. "Only The Lonely", "Take The L", "Suddenly Last Summer" and more great songs were staples of the eighties. She had the most mesmerizing eyes in her videos, ones that seemed to look deep into your soul. Flash forward about twenty five years and you'll find Martha working harder than ever, but you may just be surprised.
Martha recently released her first children's album entitled "Red Frog Presents 16 Songs for Parents and Children", although her idea goes back some thirteen years. "The idea for the children's album came some years ago from a big purple dinosaur. When my grand kids young, the airwaves were being permeated by Barney. My daughter was complaining about having to listen to the songs over and over, her further complaint was that the songs were, how you say, stupid. The songs I listened to as a kid were dark, funny, adventurous and never really talked down to kids. I then set a goal to write a kids album that would be fun, clever and palatable for adults as well. Well, that was about thirteen years ago, maybe more. I shopped it to the labels and I was told that it was too intellectual for children, so I shelved it. As of late, I had noticed pop bands getting into the children's market with some new and wonderful stuff. I ended up rewriting almost the entire album, so now we have a second album. I'm sure one day the former album will see the light of day," stated Martha.
How has the children's album been received? "It has only been out a short time (available by digital download right now on Amazon.com and Itunes) and with very little fanfare, we just plopped it on the internet. There is negotiation currently to have it released on an actual label, which would be wonderful. We'll keep you posted."
Martha's love of music and creating is apparent as she talks about all that she has been working on. Hearing her talk about her creations is like talking to a proud mama. "I have been making music of some sort since I learned my first three guitar chords at the age of eight. I couldn't possibly think of not doing it. It's part of who I am," said Martha.
Martha is currently has so many projects under development that you need a flowchart to keep track of all of them. She is putting together an album of jazz standards that she has written through the years that sound more from the 1920's through the 1950's than modern. There is also talk of new Motels music coming soon and possibly live dates. She is most definitely a multi-faceted woman.
Still, Martha is most remembered as the voice behind The Motels. What an amazing time to be in the music industry. The music was new and refreshing, it was a totally new scene. As far as road stories go, can you share you best and worst that pop into your head? "Well, as far as best goes, going to Australia in 1980 and not knowing 'Total Control' was a hit. When we first started playing, the whole audience rose with the lighters a blaze and swayed to the rhythm of the song. We had no idea, it was very cool. The worst? When a moth, a very big moth, flew into my mouth during an outdoor concert. You're basically faced with two choices....I swallowed."
Speaking of the music industry, it is a far cry from what it was like in the eighties. Care to comment? "Oh, I can comment....it's crazy!! The music industry I knew when I first signed appears to be gone. The record labels I think missed a great opportunity to be part of a new frontier. It's the wild west out there. Everyone can and does put out their own music, but there is very little filtration, which is what the record companies use to provide. I think there will be a distillation process, but it will involve intense creativity on the part of the artist to make themselves known in a crowd. The record companies? I'm sure there will be some new business models appearing."
I have been a fan of Martha's work for sometime now. I was an eighties child and I cannot tell you how many spins her "All For One" album got on my turntable. I love asking more intimate, personal questions at this point to get some goodies for the die hard fans that most sources don't. If she could record with anyone right now who might it be? Her response was David Bowie, but she would not turn down an evening with Radiohead. If she could only have one CD while trapped on a desert island, she chose Bowie's "Low" or Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe". Last question, do you have any guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans? "I love housework, cleaning, yard work, I love work! I refer to myself as having two speeds: I am either working on something or asleep! OK, I also love to read, which is sort of a middle position. OK, I lied again! I love comedy, Jon Stewart, Simpsons, new fave The Mighty Boosh and rom coms (romantic comedies), probably not what people would expect, what can I say?"
Speaking with Martha is never a dull moment. She and her new business manager, Gaye Ann Bruno, have so many projects in the works right now that it seems like sleep is not an option. Fans of Martha's can keep up with her, if anyone can possible keep up with her pace, at www.themotels.com, www.myspace.com/themotels or www.myspace.com/marthadavis. She is a rare breed of artist who is always creating her next piece of art. I asked her what legacy did she wish to leave behind? What did she want to be remembered for? She summed it up in one simple word: songwriting.