Interview: Jeff Martin talks The Ones We Love – Celebrating R.E.M. Shows

By Jonathan Matthews

We had the chance to catch up with Jeff Martin, best known as the lead singer of Canadian rock band The Tea Party. He will be heading to Australia soon to be a part of a show called The Ones We Love, a tribute to R.E.M. He will be playing alongside other great singers, performers & musicians such as Steve Kilbey (The Church), Trish Young (The Clouds), Peter Fenton (Crow), and many more. We spoke about his love of the band R.E.M., his inspiration from them as a musician, and even a little bit about his band The Tea Party.

SR. You will be coming to Australia soon to be a part of the show The Ones We Love, and pay homage to the legends R.E.M., are you looking forward to the tour?

Absolutely! I’ve always been a huge fan of R.E.M., especially in my high school years. When I was in early high school, my friend turned me onto R.E.M. I thought it was really enchanting, it wasn’t like all of the new wave stuff that was out at the time. It seemed like an echo of the past to me. As a guitarist, I’ve been playing since I was seven years old, and when I heard R.E.M., the guitar sound was nothing like I’d ever heard before. It was so eye opening for me. I’ve been a fan of R.E.M. for so long now, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a tribute show, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been to Australia before, but I’m still really excited about it, and it’ll be an honour to play alongside the other musicians on this tour.

“…I’ve met Michael Stipe a few times on the road. I met him in Greenwich Village once, he’s a really nice guy.”

SR. What is your favourite song by R.E.M.?

I have two favourites, and they’re two very different songs. ‘Everybody Hurts’ is one of them, I don’t think there are many people who don’t like that song. The other one is from their early days, ‘Pretty Persuasion’ it really caught my ear the first time I heard it as a young teenager.

SR. Do you have a favourite song off of the set list to perform live?

I enjoy singing all of them, but I am singing ‘Everybody Hurts’, so that’s going to be really great. I’m also playing ‘Drive’ which is always a crowd favourite. It’s pretty avant-garde as far as rock and roll goes, which is why I wanted to tackle it. It’s definitely one of the darker songs on the set list.

SR. You guys are only playing a few of the major cities in Australia, why aren’t you coming to Adelaide?

That’s not a question I can answer unfortunately, you’d have to ask the promoter about that. My love of Adelaide goes back to the early nineties, so I was pretty disappointed that we’re not stopping in there too. But who knows what will happen in the future?

” I’ve always been a huge fan of R.E.M., especially in my high school years.”

SR. Do R.E.M. inspire your songwriting for your band ‘The Tea Party’?

They inspire me more in a guitar playing sense. Especially the Rickenbacker twelve string guitar work that Peter Buck did. He used a Rickenbacker twelve string electric guitars, both for recording and playing live, and some of The Tea Party’s most popular songs have that element as well. I’ve used a twelve string electric, and it makes the sound really ring out.

SR. Did you ever have the chance to see R.E.M. play live?

No, I’ve never seen them live before. I did have the opportunity to at one stage, I was nineteen years old and I was going to go see them in Detroit, but unfortunately that fell through. I’ve met Michael Stipe a few times on the road. I met him in Greenwich Village once, he’s a really nice guy.

SR. Where did ‘The Ones We Love’ all start?

The musical producer came up with the idea. He wanted to put a bunch of musicians together that you wouldn’t really expect to be working together, and get them to play R.E.M.’s music. The gamble payed off, he put the show together really quickly, and a lot of people seem to be interested in it, so it’s going to be good.

SR. Have you worked with any of the other artists before?

No, I haven’t. That will be interesting, and something new for all of us. I’m looking forward to getting into the rehearsal room and creating some magic. It’ll be great to work with some new artists and make some new friends.

SR. So you guys haven’t had the chance to rehearse together yet?

Our rehearsals start next week, and then it’s all go, go, go!

The Ones We Love: Celebrating R.E.M. promises to be a rare opportunity to experience your favourite R.E.M. songs live, so make sure you get your tickets now, before they sell out! You can See Jeff Martin play alongside other artists like, Ron S. Peno (Died Pretty), Trish Young (The Clouds), Alannah Russack (The Hummingbirds), Peter Fenton (Crow), and more!