Q: You’ve got a new EP, what can you tell us about it? And why an EP instead of a full record?
A: I had these songs done and normally I would do another, say, seven or eight songs to make a full-length record. But with all that’s going on in the world, these songs were kind of reflective of that and so they’re relevant now and I just wanted to get it out
I wanted the timing to be right and then somebody else in my crew chimed in the time like, also you can hear new music for the price of a soy latte; basically an EP for a $5.00 bill. That seems like real timely, when people are out of work or underemployed it feels good to be able to offer something that is that affordable.
Q: How did you know the collection was ready?
A: Well, I had the songs and they felt like a complete piece of work to me but after I recorded them and I think the line was right before I recorded “For What It’s Worth” I thought “I got these four produced tunes and they kind of feel like a nice 20 minutes of program. If I could have one more little flower on the cake, maybe one little acoustic tip of the hat that would be like the finishing desert piece.”
But right at that point is where I knew this is a complete work. It’s not a whole record, it’s not a long listen, it’s only a 23 minute listen or something and I did wanna get that song on there – “For What It’s Worth.” Because I feel like it’s time to pull out songs out of a closet – old 60s tunes like that and use them for what they were there for, which is to unite people and motivate people and rise to the call.
Q: What are some other tunes that fit that bill for you?
I’m sure there’s all kinds of great Dylan songs or, like, “Slow Train Coming” and Phil Ochs and a lot of protest songs and Crosby Stills and Nash and all that great stuff utilized again.
As an artist I feel it’s incumbent upon me to use my art not just to entertain, but to help motivate and help unite people. That my mission is to get people united, for people to drop the divisive issues whether it’s prolife or prochoice or Black or White or gay or straight or left or right.
I’m trying to see the likeness in people different from myself and try to agree on sort of common ground issues, bigger issues I think. Like our Constitution or our Bill of Rights. I think we mostly agree on most of those rights that we have. They are being watered down before our very eyes.
Q: What does your songwriting process look like?
A: It’s a different process. It’s funny, one tune that I was just sittin’ at home at my piano and just I think it was my sixth year anniversary of marriage to my wife and I was just playing some chords and made of a list, six years of this and that. Made it into a song and that’s – that was the process for that.
And then a tune like “Fall Like Rain,” the title track, I had that melody for that chorus – la da da de, la da la de de de dum – followed me around for years before I made something out of it. I was wondering what it would be like to lose all the crutches in life, that are – drugs and the TV or the ear buds or the comforts and all the shelters in life. To lose them and be wide open and raw, just bare naked, do life by life’s terms. That tune is about striving for that communion with, whether it’s nature or the earth or – just to be wide open. To be vulnerable as opposed to just being always wired in all the time.
I’d be out walking the dog and it’s a beautiful day and birds are chirping and the stream is rushing and I see people – and I used to be one, but I’ve actually made a conscious effort to try to drop it — some walking through this with, like, blinders on. Like, they got ear buds in their ears and they’re maybe texting and they’re walking out in this beautiful area and I just don’t understand it. I think you could do that from your living room.
And then other tunes, “One Voice Together,” I wrote that with my friend Dan Mackenzie. We were trying to say how can we bring people together, ‘cause we’re being divided. It’s like we’re all fighting about these issues, whether it seemed like healthcare or abortion or gays in the military and what have you.
Q: How has your performance evolved over the years?
A: It started as a guy and a guitar hanging on the street corners of Boston. And it evolved into all kinds of incarnations, although now I sometimes travel with a full band or I’ve travelled with just the drummer. I travel – like this tour; I’m out solo right now, which is really fun. We’ll have – sometimes we have the tour bus and travelers trucks and sometimes we just have a van and the traveler. It’s nice can I sorta do whatever I want. I can do all these and have a fun time with it.
Q: What about your fans?
A: I’m blessed with this fan base but they keep coming back. In a world where numbers are down and people outta work, folks are still digging in their pockets and whipping out a twenty dollar bill to come to a show or buying a record. I fell really blessed that I have this supportive base of people that come back and they bring their friends – it’s just ever growing thing. It started in coffee houses and it’s now in beautiful halls.
Q: How do you keep touring fun, or at least bearable, after all this time?
A: It can get old. You do anything, I don’t care if you play at baseball or you’re an ice cream taster or even if you’re a pro golf or even if you do something like that or singing, anything for a number of years can start to get old. So when that happens to me, I just try to picture that, my songs are like – they’re like a different set of monkey bars I play on every night.
Each show is different. That helps a lot. A lot of bands will do basically the same show every night. And it’s great ‘cause it allows them to have everything really precise and tight. And that’s great as an audience not to see that because that’s just – I know I’ve done that too and it just – it gets old after three nights, but you’ve got another forty to go.
The people just call out tunes and I play ‘em and it’s such a dream come true to come into a city and the tunes they’re calling out are not “Free Bird” or “Stairway to Heaven” and “Brown Eyed Girl.”
It’s a beautiful thing. So it allows those sets allow me to have a completely different show every night. The audience becomes part of the band. They become the chorus, the choir, they play percussion, they dance. It’s funny, and – I’ve only been out a couple weeks now and I’ve seen people laughing, seen people crying, I’ve seen people dancing, sitting down. It’s been wonderful.
Q: Do you have anything that you always bring with you on tour?
A: I don’t have any real totems that I carry around with me. I travel light. I really sort of pride myself — I’ve got one bag. It’s a shoulder bag and that’s –basically on the road if I have a week’s worth of clothes, that’s all I need. Laundry get done every Sunday, that I’ve always got clean clothes, and my guitar – I’m good.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A: the power to bring people together. To unite people and to have people set aside their differences and come together for a common cause. That’s what my power would be. Unity Man.
He would have the super power to bring together the feistiest, Texan, right winger with the most liberal, New York lesbian you could find.
Q: Anything else that our readers should know?
Basically we’re in the new 60s. It’s time to set aside our differences and what’s a beautiful thing at my shows is I will have a right winger standing alongside a liberal lefty. Singing in harmony. For that show they’re not divided, they’re together and they’re united. It’s just people. Maybe left and right is like Coke and Pepsi to me.
When you boil it down, we all love our kids, we all bleed red. We all need food and shelter and we all have a Bill of Rights and when the military comes to lock us up and throw us in the paddy wagon, they’re not gonna say okay which one is the liberal lesbian and which one is the NRA guy and which ones the left and right, we just gotta get in the wagon and shut up. And then we’ll be united.
So, let’s not wait till we’re in the freaking jail cell to be united that’s why I’m saying it. On my website –martinsexton.com, one of the pages you can go to is an action page. It just list a bunch of alternate media and sources and all that kinda stuff.