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Martyn Joseph - The War Ep Interview
by Steve Stockman

On May 12, Martyn Joseph releases an EP that was provoked by his response to the war in Iraq. It will have Larry Norman's “American Novel” as its lead track and include a new version of “The Good In Me Is Dead,” a version of “War Baby” with its writer Tom Robinson and last but not least “Arizona Dreams.” Stocki had a brief wee email chat with Martyn about the project (details of how to buy it are at the foot of this page).

STOCKI: An EP with a purpose? Is the result of being enraged?

MARTYN: I think that many folk have felt a helplessness in recent weeks as events in Iraq unfolded. There was an inevitability about it all and I think many were deflated by that. Whilst we are happy to see the liberation of anyone, it comes not only with a price, and indeed we may have to pay more yet, but so much of the tyranny was put in place by the West in the first place. We should hand them their liberty and a huge apology at the same time. The latter is unlikely of course. The EP gives some voice to those feelings and I think its helpful for many to hear that. We are also giving the money it makes to War Child.

STOCKI: You've been playing the “New American Novel” for sometime. You started singing it when there was no war. What first drew you to it?

MARTYN: I have always been a Larry Norman fan and have been singing the song for fifteen years now. My original reason for getting to know the song is a little hazy now but I know I was drawn by its poetry and sense of protest.

STOCKI: When did you realize it had new resonance?

MARTYN: That's the amazing thing about the song, I mean it was written in the seventies and yet still translates to today, which is an indictment in itself. So I guess the resonance never went away.

STOCKI: Have you told Larry?

MARTYN: Nah, he'll find out soon enough.

STOCKI: “The Good In Me Is Dead” is quite a song. It has almost a documentary style and depth. Did that take time to write?

MARTYN: Yeah, I think a week or so. It was about trying to get inside the head of the guy and feel how you would feel if all this had happened. He notes feelings of violence and retribution, but try' also to recall that that he knows of community and forgiveness. In the end he searches for community, though we don't know if he finds it.

STOCKI: You have taken it out of its war and its geography? Where do you see it sitting in this conflict?

MARTYN: It’s the human condition of so many affected by these events. It doesn't necessarily relate to Iraq but adds to the EPs documentation of where things are right now for so many.

STOCKI: “Arizona Dreams.” That is you and Henderson journeying through American culture. Why is that so relevant in this context?

MARTYN: I thought it was important to have something positive about the USA in there. Many Americans feel that if you criticize their government you are 'hating Americans', which just isn't true. “Arizona” points to the beauty and grace, and maybe the true essence of the American dream.

STOCKI: No temptation to do an acoustic version of “Born In The USA”?

MARTYN: Mmm, too well known I think Larry remains an unknown treasure for many.

STOCKI: What is your hope for the EP?

MARTYN: I just hope it helps; helps to raise a little money for the children of Iraq and other war zones, and helps to articulate something of what many feel right now. I just didn't want to be looking back years from now and think, “I didn’t do anything.” Someone recently said that because politics and religion have failed, art is the only thing that can articulate our condition, I guess this is an attempt to do just that.

Here's an update on release dates, where to order etc.!

At the 11th hour Martyn decided to re-record “The Good in Me is Dead,” making all the tracks on the EP new recordings, but delaying the release date to the 12th May (this is an in -store date we have been given.) The EP is now available to preorder from all good record stores. We recommend you preorder it from HMV. HMV will ship internationally, which is great news for those of you in the USA, Canada and elsewhere who have asked how they can obtain a copy. It's available online at www.hmv.co.uk. Just search under Martyn Joseph.

If you have no idea what we're talking about check out the 'action' page at www.martynjoseph.com then read on.
 

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2 - Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul ). He has his own web page - Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org. He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine 

 
 

 

 
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