New Wave legend Martha Davis is in a surprisingly positive mood considering the catastrophe that’s just occurred.
“I’ve just realised that my basement has completely flooded,” she says. “It’s pretty much a nightmare; I’ve just moved my studio down there and all these rugs and things are ruined. It’s not even raining; we had a lot of snow in the last week and I’m pretty sure I’ll be drying out rugs until the day we fly to Australia. But everything works out in the end, doesn’t it?”
The 63-year-old singer has reason to be upbeat, as the new lineup of a band that formed in California in 1975 looks to bring back The Motels’ sound of old on an upcoming Australian tour.
“I’ll be coming with my ‘new’ band, which has really been my band for ten years; longer than the original Motels were together,” she says. “These boys are amazing; they’re younger, very cute and way-ass talented. I’m also bringing along Mr. Martin Jourard, who was the original sax and keyboard player for The Motels. He and the guys love each other and we have so much fun, and it’s such a joy to have the saxophone back. We’ll be playing a lot of the old favourites and a couple of new ones; we’ve gone back into the catalogue and dusted off a couple of songs we haven’t done in a while, so we’re going to bring Australia some very luscious sets.”
Martha and The Motels scored an Australian number four hit with ‘Total Control’ in 1980 before going through multiple lineup changes, but Davis is clear about what she wants for the band from now on.
“People really missed the saxophone when it wasn’t there. Clint [Walsh], my guitar player, has been doing solos and he’s absolutely stunning, but there’s something about when that saxophone kicks in that really makes people go wild. Then there’s Marty’s antics onstage – he’s always been a crazy guy and his keyboard stuff is wonderful. Sometimes I think it’s more a Marty show than a Martha show! The saxophone is so evocative and has a really precise emotion – for me it sums up a wet street or alleyway and is so noir-ish in a way. I love that imagery and the lonely saxophone sound. Is it lonely, or is it just me? That’s probably why I’m a band girl rather than a solo girl. I love how the harmonies and sounds of different things layer to make an atmosphere as opposed to just having a song.”
Recalling her last visit to Australia in 1988, Davis says, “Our last Australian tour was a crazy-ass tour. I should really pull out that itinerary because we played everywhere from Darwin to Tasmania. We played places that most Australians haven’t been to. I think we were there for 50 days and we played constantly; the drummer ended up in hospital in the end. It was non-stop and we went to every nook and cranny, but it was hilarious. Everything I do is hilarious. It’s a funny job and you can’t get around that. I always say to people that you should watchSpinal Tapand then realise that everything in there is true. But it was a long and fun tour, although we were a very different band then; more jazzy. This tour is going to recall the first album more and be true to the record.”
While there will be an element of nostalgia in the upcoming shows, it’s not something Davis is happy to depend upon.
“Me and the boys spent some time in the studio before it flooded,” she says. “We just wrote three new tracks which are really wonderful; these guys are such great players. I’ve always got songs lying around so there’s always stuff to be used. Once we get in the same place it comes together pretty quickly. We’re preparing for Australia more than we are for the album right now, but there will be new songs coming out soon.”