SEPTEMBER 15, 2001

Declarations Of Independents

By Chris Martin

Flag Waving

The Los Angeles-based band Idaho has gone through a variety of incarnations during its decade in existence, but its latest release, Levitate, due Oct. 2 on its own Idaho Music imprint, finds core member Jeff Martin virtually going it alone.

“I’ve wanted to make records by myself for a while, but didn’t have the confidence to do it,” Martin says. “I’ve always wanted to have people around to help realize this live. I finally said, ‘Screw it.’”

Martin—who began the band in partnership with his old friend John Berry, now head of Idaho Music— plays almost all the instruments for the 11 moody, affecting songs on Levitate, which will appeal to fans of such slow-burning groups as Low. He’s joined on four songs by drummer Alex Kimmel, an Idaho fan who had never played with Martin before.

“He e-mailed me, and I could tell he was probably very good,” Martin says of Kimmel. “I had him come over and play a little bit, and it worked.”

Martin says that the act of creating the album by himself represented a break with the methods he had used in the past: “This record was done very quickly. Normally I methodically go over stuff, and it becomes less from the heart. I had only about two months to do it, which for me was nothing. I felt like I had to squeeze blood out of myself.”

Idaho is still a band in its live incarnation. Martin says he is currently rehearsing with Berry and another longtime collaborator, Doug Smith, for a U.S. tour that begins Sept. 20 at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. After a month in the U.S. and Canada, Idaho will hit Europe for October and November dates in Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, and the U.K.