George Mason University's Student Newspaper
His own private Idaho
Jeff Martin vocalizes his state
By Theresa vanHorn
At the Hard Rock Cafe on Friday night, Jeff Martin of the L.A band Idaho talked with the same kind of astute introspection that he bares in his music. The self-proclaimed “frazzled recluse” discussed Idaho’s, latest release “This Way Out,” Martin’s almost entirely solo effort, and his band’s current tour with the Cranes—an hour later Idaho would open for me ethereal birds at the 9:30 Club. Martin and his new bandmates recently began a tour that has no set ending date, although, as Martin insisted, “It’s against my instincts to be in public or to even be talking to more than two people at once.”
Prior to “This Way Out”, Idaho entailed Martin’s collaboration with John Berry, without whom the newer material is inevitably different. “It reminds me more of the music I was doing, when I was younger. I feel like there’s a lot more that I can do. It’s a lot freer, but I miss that kind of symbiotic relationship,” Martin said.
Idaho innovates a paradigm of odd tunings and forms that, brood together beautifully. The leverage of. Martin’s voice— which always sounds, like he just woke up—works evocatively with the morose-, melodic music.
Once called, “the feedback’ terrorists, Idaho loads its music with guitar ripostes. While other bands that try using guitar feedback only end up with unnatural vexations, Idaho intertwines it ideally with a mid-tempo beat.
Idaho’s mood is invariably dark, yet Martin said, “I don’t think it’s depressing, I’d like to think that (my songwriting is) just very honest”. Writing cathartic lyrics allows him to “exorcise out the bad stuff,” he said.
Martin claimed that many. of. his lyrics are “unconsciously ‘derived,” but he. has recently, vowed to take a “more direct approach to songwriting” and also to head in a more punk direction..
Because Martin almost solely created “This Way Out,” playing the album’s songs with a band was initially “very weird,” he said. Although the weirdness hasn’t completely ended, Martin will continue working with the band, which includes bassist Jim Brown, guitarist-Dan-Seta and drummer Mark Lewis. “The next record will be done as a band. This magic occurs when you’re playing together that you cannot capture as a solo artist” he said.
The band “is just coming .out of what started as a seemingly ill-fated tour. “It started off with every nightmare that a band could experiences—amps blowing up—it was sort of a gunshow,” he said.
The Cranes “crowd gives the shows “a more gothic feel.” Martin said, adding that Idaho and the Cranes are “a good balance” in a live show because the bands have “just enough in common to justify it.”