Sultry, smoky, chunky and honest, Smoking Martha’s forthcoming album In Deep has got everything you’d want from a rock band in 2017. However, as the band’s frontwoman Tasha Doherty contends, being a woman in the music industry isn’t without its challenges.
“It’s a hard one because sometimes [having a female singer] helps us, but other times it doesn’t,” says Doherty. “I think it can definitely make us stand out from the rest, but it can be harder because there’ll be bands that just don’t want a female singer to support them.
“Another problem is, you can get stereotyped as being a typical female-fronted band that everybody knows, like Evanescence, Paramore … People will say, ‘Oh, it’s like that,’ and I say, ‘Oh, I don’t think it is!’ They automatically do it, but if it was a guy singing, you wouldn’t get that.”
However, that doesn’t mean Smoking Martha shy away from addressing the same issues in their music as their peers. Rock music is typically upfront about matters of sex and romance, and Doherty has no problem asserting her femininity in her lyrics – even if she risks being judged for it.
“It’s definitely riskier being a female [singer],” she says. “Some people understand it and others don’t. I definitely think it’s happening more and more – women are singing sexy and be more risqué with your lyrics – but it’s hard because you don’t want it to come across a certain way. It’s got to be very true and very raw.
“Lyrics, for me – I don’t come out with something if it’s going to be cheesy. I stay away from that kind of cheesy-style lyrics. I look for real emotion. It’s gotta be coming from somewhere. It’s important for me to be true to what I believe in, and I get inspiration from everyone, whether it be girlfriends I know or myself, what I’m feeling or thinking. Those topics do come up, like in [the song] ‘What’s Her Name?’. I mean, how many people think their partners are cheating or how many times are you obsessive in relationships? These are feelings that I can definitely magnify in songs.”
Although rock’n’roll is still in its relative youth – humans have been making music for millennia, after all – bands like Smoking Martha can find their melodic conversations risk being repetitive. Doherty, however, is happy to let the song decide on its own direction.
“We write a song and I go with whatever comes to me – it’s more about keeping it fun and interesting enough for me to want to keep singing it,” she says. “I don’t think about what other people think of the songs. It might be a bit selfish, but I’m not going to sing a song I don’t believe in.
“The topics go over and over, but it is hard to pick a thing no one has sung about – but there’s got to be something going on in life that people can relate to. Sometimes singing about heartbreak and soppy love songs is the easiest way. ‘Stranger Things’ is about the fight it takes to be in a band, the fight for anything really that you’re not getting. Hopefully the songs you can take in your own way.”
In Deep is out independently on Friday May 19. Smoking Martha play Frankie’s Pizza on Thursday May 18.