When he’s not furiously lashing at his guitar and spitting into a microphone [in firstly The Mobbs and latterly GoGo Loco] Joe Martin likes to show off his softer side with his Joe B. Humbled solo project. His new single might be his best song yet, the melancholy widescreen retro-pop of ‘To Be True’. New Boots gets the lowdown on the Northamptonians latest movements.
Please give us a bit of background to your solo project.
Playing as a solo artist came way before The Mobbs. I have a wide musical taste, so my solo projects have usually been an aside to experiment with lots of different styles. I started writing, playing and recording folk acoustic songs in my bedroom in 2003. From there I became obsessed with perfecting a finger-picking style. I was very interested in keeping everything as basic as possible. I’d try to write songs that wouldn’t need any other instruments or musicians – just my acoustic guitar and my voice. It remained like this for a long time. The Mobbs became the real backbone for my songwriting, but I continued to perform and record occasionally as an acoustic act. Right now I am in a sort of songwriting haven. I suddenly have the technology to multi-track properly, and can record and perform everything myself. I have been on quite a personal musical journey since The Mobbs finished last year. I’ve gone back to the music I grew up listening to, and have also opened myself up to a lot of contemporary music.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences for this solo work?
I’ve found myself back in love with 1960s soul and the funkier side of rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve also been highly influenced by the work of Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] and his record label Easy Eye Sound. Due to my love of analogue recorded sounds I’ve got into artists on Daptone Records, and most recently a label called Big Crown. Traditional and contemporary American roots music has always been something that I get excited about. I’m digging everything from Sam Cooke to Alabama Shakes at the moment. My new experiments in sound are quite soulful, I would say, and there is still a blues influence in some of the songs too. I’m perhaps showing off my ability to sing and do harmonies as oppose making a two minute rock ‘n’ roll noise. Although I still have that outlet with GoGo Loco.
What was the reaction like to the Ten Odes LP of 2015, and also the more recent EP from last year?
Ten Odes was a quick demo collection of the acoustic folk/blues songs I had been performing from 2010 to 2015. It was just a stage in time where I thought I’d better record something. It was nice working with Nick Ellison (on fiddle) and doing a vocal duet with Leila Jane. I didn’t push Ten Odes too much so the reaction was as small, as I intended it to be. This was also the case with the How Did The Folly Begin EP. It was just a point where I needed to make a record of the songs I had been working on. I lost interest pretty quickly with that EP to be honest.
Tell us about this new song, ‘To Be True’.
‘To Be True’ is quite an old song that I hadn’t been able to use for anything previously. This was the first thing I recorded toward the end of last year. When I had finished recording ‘To Be True’ I kept on writing and recording fresher material spurred on by the success of how it had turned out.
Any plans for Joe B. Humbled shows?
I am hoping to put a Joe B. Humbled band together this year. I can just say [at the moment] I have some very talented musicians interested – which is very exciting. We shall see what happens!
Any favourite bands and/or venues in Northamptonshire?
I’ve had a lot of fun playing percussion and knocking about with The Keepers. Those guys have the lust for music that I had at that age and it’s a tonic to be around them and feel inspired by their enthusiasm for it all. For this reason as well as their brilliant songs these guys are probably my favourite band at the moment. I do also like seeing Kilamojo live. The thing about Northampton music is that there has always been a sea of genres and something for everyone, everywhere – long may it continue. I like The Pomfret Arms as a venue, and The Lab. There’s masses of positivity around and plenty of support for Northampton music – same as ever. There’s always new music popping up all the time too!
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
American Love Call by Durand Jones & The Indicators
What is your burning desire for this project in the future? What plans do you have?
I want to perfect some aspects of the recording side of it. I’m always working hard to get the right drum sound. Now that I am a drummer and obsessed with rhythm I realise that the drumming is really the most important part! My desires and plan is to have a fully rehearsed and tight backing group so I can perform my new songs to an audience with a full band. There are more songs ready and I will be releasing these online over the next couple of months.
To Be True is out now via Bandcamp [see below]