Catching Up With Martha Davis From ‘The Motels’ And The Release Of The Upcoming Album‘ The Last Few Beautiful Days’.
We recently caught up with Martha Davis from The Motels to talk about new music (the new album ‘The Last Few Beautiful Days’ is set to be released early next year and new singles are expected this fall). She also spoke about her inspirations growing up — and her thoughts on sustaining a successful music career for many years. It was an honor interviewing such a talented artist who has made such an impact on music. Here’s what she had to say:
Hi Martha! For starters, it is really lovely to e-meet you. Let’s talk about your amazing career so far. How did ‘The Motels’ first get together?
The original Motels started in Berkeley CA, just before Halloween in the grand old year of 1971. My friend Lisa Brenneis said she’d been playing with these guys and they needed a singer and she kinda dared me to come join the band. After 3 rehearsals, our first gig took place on Halloween night at an artists consortium in San Francisco. I remember a naked man painted blue dancing in front of me. A strange first gig!
Who were some of your influences growing up?
So many influences! Igor Stravinsky when I was 5 ish, Negro Spirituals when I was around 8, musicals when I was 11, R&B and Soul when I was 12 through to my teen years. A little folk; Buffy St Marie, Odetta thrown in — but the game changer was David Bowie, when I was around 20, he combined so much of what I loved. God I miss him!
Where were you, when you first heard ‘The Motels’ on the radio and when did it really hit you, that your life was about to dramatically change?
We were in a taxi just leaving the airport on our first tour in Boston, Massachusetts and they played ‘Dressing Up’ — our tiny minds were blown!
One of my personal favorite era’s in music was the 80s because it was and always be so fun and unique. How do you feel about the changes that have happened to the music industry over the years — like CDs slowly dying out and everything being digital. Also, how these days, anyone can produce something if they have a laptop:
There have been some wonderful high points in music. It’s not a constant thing, it will be fantastic then get kind of mundane. Usually because, the record companies will see dollar signs in an act — take Nirvana, then try and emulate the style thinking that will bring more $, but it will just be watered down Nirvana. Every decade has it’s golden periods, it’s an ebb and flow. However, what has happened to the business model, that is quite a different thing.
It is not an ebb and flow but a complete shift in the structure itself. For artists it’s tough, revenue has been vastly reduced, royalties are basically a thing of the past, most money is made touring and even that can be difficult. It’s the question of supply and demand — if a ton of people would really like to be a pop star, can make some damn good albums at home and they don’t care what they get paid — as long as they get to play (sometimes even “pay to play”). It then follows with the people hiring, will start paying less. Supply and demand, this is just natures way of forcing us to become more creative. If you don’t rise above, you will just quietly disappear!
What is your favorite song to perform?
The newest one.
Being a female, what have you learned the most about such a tough industry and what do you like to do in your down time?
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you’ve just gotta be good! And not be afraid of hard work.
Tell us about the new album and upcoming shows, including the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills:
The new album is…well, it sounds like Motels — but modern. You can dance to it and that includes waltz; it’s a journey, hard to describe, it’s my favorite so far. Motels live? always fun! Hard to talk about our own show, that’s for reviewers, right?
What would your best piece of advice be to up and coming artists trying to have a successful music career?
Don’t pay attention to “what’s happening in the biz”! Music is and should be a very personal thing! Write, write, write and while writing, get the hell out of your own way! Don’t think — feel.
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