Durham punks Martha laugh in the face of adversity. Lyrically tackling personal struggles and political turmoil through their positive-sounding, pop-tinged DIY punk, theirs is a bounding take on punk-rock, itself disguising a darker heart.
The band – who are, infamously, from the delightfully downbeat sounding village of Pity Me (that’s a real place, by the way) – are gearing up to release their new full-length ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ on April 5, via indie cult heroes Big Scary Monsters Records. Today, they’ve shared ‘The Void’ – a buoyant, danceable take on present-day turmoil.
Fittingly, the track’s positive shell houses a tale of “the cosmic darkness that’s engulfing the planet and all life on it.” Cheery stuff. “Impending ecological catastrophe, nuclear Armageddon, ancient gods awakening, suicidal ideation… We’re staring into the Void,” the band continue – an oh-so-Martha statement that’s entirely at odds with the driving rhythm and unifying gang vocals of ‘The Void’ itself.
It’s a contrast that’s propelled Martha to heights normally out-of-reach to their DIY punk peers, with the group also today announcing a huge show at London’s Heaven this November.
Below the first listen of ‘The Void’, we catch up with Martha to talk finding brightness in the dark spaces, and how they balance their DIY ethics with that ever-rising stature.
‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is something of a break-up record, but in typical Martha fashion it’s remarkably upbeat. Is it important to you to approach these subjects with a bit of musical levity?
I think it is important to us to always try to find hope in the darkness, definitely. The album is definitely more sombre than previous stuff, and that’s partly about heart ache coming from break ups of relationships, friendships, loss, and that fits into this wider malaise that seems to be ever present at the minute.
Is it inspired by any particular break-up? How do you think your approach to writing about those things has developed as you’ve got older?
Being a bit older gives you more perspective and hopefully helps you to find a kindness and understanding when life doesn’t go the way you’ve planned. It feels like it’s been a tough couple of years politically and that has also filtered into the narrative of the record, maybe inevitably. The band has always tried to tell stories, and there’s a variety of those on this record, including some straight-up happy love songs!
Talk us through how ‘The Void’ falls into all this.
The Void is a sci-fi story, partly-inspired by playing table top RPGs, but informed by the pretty dreadful state of the world at the minute. It draws from that cosmic horror tradition, and I think we were trying to channel Roky Erikson with the lyrics. It links narratively to another song on the record, but that will become clearer when it’s actually out!
You’re playing some pretty huge (and sold out!) venues on your tour next month. Is that a trip, for a band that’s come up through the DIY scene?
We’re really chuffed that people have been buying tickets for these shows! We played the Garage in London a couple of years ago supporting our vegan punk heroes Propagandhi, and now we’re headlining! And it’s sold out! We feel very, very lucky, but it’s important to us not to measure our success by those kinds of things, because ultimately, we’re still just trying to do the what we’ve always done together, and that’s make music and play shows and do new things.
How do you keep those DIY ethics core to the band in the face of that ever-rising stature?
We try to do as much ourselves as we feasibly can. It’s gotten much harder to find time to do band stuff, as life and responsibilities have gotten in the way and we’ve all just been working our day jobs for the past 6 months, so its really exciting that people are buying tickets for gigs ahead of the album. We have friends who we trust and who get what we’re about who sometimes help us out with stuff too. We tend to make decisions about what we do as and when things come up, and just try and try and do what feels right.
What do you want others to glean from both the record, and Martha in general?
Really we just hope people like the songs! It’s a bit nerve wracking releasing new stuff, so it’s nice that people have been so positive about the singles so far, and hopefully they’ll enjoy the record too!
Once ‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is out, what’s next?
We’re touring Europe and the UK in April/May, and then across the summer we’re playing lots of festivals and some more UK shows later in the year! We’re just gonna keep on trucking!
‘Love Keeps Kicking’ is out April 5 via Big Scary Monsters. Martha play the following shows this year:
23 March – ES – Madrid Popfest
06 April – UK – Margate, Elsewhere
07 April – BEL – Antwerp, Trix
08 April – DE – Bochum, Rotunde
09 April – DE – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
10 April – DE – Köln, Sonic Ballroom
11 April – DE – Jena, Kassablanca
12 April – CZ – Prague – Klub 007 Strahow
13 April – DE – Alte Mälzerei, Heimspiel Festival
16 April – UK – London – The Garage – SOLD OUT
17 April – UK – Newcastle – Star and Shadow Cinema – SOLD OUT
20 April – UK – Manchester – Manchester Punk Fest
26 April – UK – Bristol – Exchange – SOLD OUT
27 April – UK – Brighton – West Hill Hall – SOLD OUT
28 April – UK – Birmingham – Hare & Hounds
29 April – UK – Exeter – Cavern Club
3 May – UK – Glasgow – Mono
5 May – UK – Leicester – Handmade Festival
13th July – UK – Cheltenham – 2000 Trees Festival
28th July – UK – Steventon – Truck Festival
29 Aug—1 Sept – UK – Larmer Tree Gardens, End of the Road
8 Nov – UK – London – Heaven