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Interview: 'Living In The Heat Of It All' With Andy Martin And His Debut EP

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Image: Andy Martin by Ali Rasoul

Playing an up-tempo, hook-centric style of rock, Brisbane-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andy Martin is sure to make waves on stages all across the nation and beyond. He's got the catchy melodies, driving guitars and powerful vocals that make for a fantastic listen and an even better live show.

Recently returning to the stage after a forced hiatus, he's bringing with him a load of brand new material written over the past year with his debut EP Living In The Heat Of It All which we premiered last week.

We caught up with Andy in between his two sets at Woolly Mammoth in Brisbane over the weekend. It was the first stop of his national tour in support of the EP, and he was absolutely buzzing.

How's it feel to be back on the live stage?

Unbelievable. Awesome. It's really cool, because this is my first full band show in 11 months now. So we played some big shows, and then it went to nothing, the world went to craziness, and now being able to play shows again - it's just awesome.

You've had some of these songs written for a while, I bet you've been itching to play them in front of a live audience.

Yeah, this is literally the first time with the full band that I've been able to play these songs, so it's a really good feeling. Because you've written the music, you've been sitting on it for a long time, you just wanna play it, you want other people to enjoy, 'cause that's why you write it, so it's pretty cool to finally be able to play the songs for people.

So you've had a wide range of experiences in your musical background, through playing trumpet in brass bands, being taught by James Morrison, to even leading roles in plays.

Yeah, growing up I always played orchestral and classical music, as well as opera and musical theatre singing, I did that all the way through school. I kept doing that, then around grade 10, when I was about 14-15, I started liking my singing in different genres, so I started appreciating other genres more. I hope that my music translates a bit of the classical influence, the musicals influence and a bit of the rock stuff that I love playing.

So are we gonna hear a bit of the classical/jazz influence on your next projects?

Potentially, all of my tracks that I've recorded for the EP have my horns - my trumpet or my flugelhorn, and I suppose with the techniques I use in my singing, there's a lot of falsetto backing vocals going on, so that's where I take some of my musical, opera sort of influence.

Do you have a favourite track from the EP? One you’re most proud of, or one you're most excited for people to hear?

My personal favourite to play is 'Heat Of It All'.

Is that why it's the title track of the EP?

That's why it's the title track, as well as the opener for the set. It's probably because most of the songs I write it's kind of like - alright, boom, I've got this chorus, let's write around that, boom, this is a song - all in a couple of hours. Whereas this was one that I sat on for about a year or two, I refined and changed things, I changed one of the verses, I came back to it and then I finally cemented a version of the song about eight or nine months ago. So I think it's a bit more that I worked hard, I changed a lot of things and now I'm really proud of the song. And I really like playing it live as well. I mean, it's the first time I did it about three hours ago so I can really only say that now (laughs).

So is that your typical writing process - you start with the chorus and you kind of build around that?

My process of writing is pretty sporadic and it chops and changes a lot, probably like a lot of artists. You draw inspiration off something and then you might write around a theme, or you might write around a melody you've heard in your head, or you might hear a line and then write a song about that. This one was probably one of the outliers in my normal writing process. So normally I have a melody based in my head, something that I've sung and I'm like, that's pretty cool, I might try and use that idea and craft a song around it. So I'll have the melody, then I'll write the chords around that, then I'll build a chorus, I guess. Then the verses will - I hope - compliment the chorus. Then I'll see how the song's structured out of that, and then I'm pretty happy with how its gonna turn out.

So out of all of these musical experiences you've been through, what do think is your best accomplishment so far?

There's probably a couple. When I started this project I had a few goals. One of them was to get played on Triple J, and I got played a couple times on Triple J, so that was one little tick off. I know a lot of artists do get played on Triple J, but for me it was like, pretty cool hearing your own music on national radio. 'Cause it's hard when you don't have a big music label backing you, or a big PR company, 'cause I can't afford that. So it was pretty cool to get played on Triple J.

And in a band I used to play in we played the Commonwealth Games in 2018, and that was pretty awesome. It was similar to this, it was our first full gig as a band together, playing all this new music, it was five or six hundred people, which for us that's crazy. For our first gig, it was pretty ridiculous.

You've been mentored by Ian Haug, how is that? How does that influence you as a songwriter, as a musician, as a person?

For me, I feel intimidated a little bit. But it's a bit awesome, he has a really straight-edge kinda point of view where he's like, "yeah that's cool, maybe you can try this" not like, "oh that's cool, maybe sit on that". He tells me directly if he thinks something could add to the songs. But he also likes my music, and as a mentor it's pretty cool having someone that you've seen tour the world playing music, someone you've seen playing on some of the biggest stages in the world who showed interest in my music. I've recorded all of my music out at his studio. So it's pretty cool with someone like him showing interest in my music.

It's really humbling. 'Cause he's a big dog, especially in Queensland music, he's a legend. I went to the Queensland Music Awards earlier this year, and every time Powderfinger was mentioned everybody just gets on their knees and bows down (laughs).

Who are the other influences who have inspired you on this latest EP?

On this EP it's a fair few different things. My favourite artist that I aspire to is Sam Fender. He's my favourite artist by far - just the way he constructs his music, it's just nice melodies, cool driving music, easy to listen to. But I listen to so much different music. John Mayer is probably one of my favourite artists of all time. For teaching myself how to play guitar, he's one of my go-tos. I love The War on Drugs for the vibe of their music and how it's constructed, it's just really driving music. So for me, Sam Fender is #1, John Mayer for everything else, just the way he writes simple melodies but makes beautiful songs, and The War on Drugs are just unbelievable as well.

Who else have you been listening to lately? What's been on your lockdown playlist?

A lot of Australian artists. I'm trying to support Australian artists as much as I can at the moment. Shannen James - I've been absolutely frothing. She released an EP a few weeks ago - love her. Hope D and Sycco in Brisbane, really really cool music. Ball Park Music released their new album today, I pumped that today and it's awesome. 'Cherub' is just such a sweet song. So I've been tryna' pump as much Australian music as I can recently, 'cause obviously it's crappy times, I'm tryna' support people as much as I can.

And now that everything's kinda returning to normal - fingers crossed - do you have any dream gigs or festivals you wanna play? What's next?

In Australia it's hard to go past wanting to play at Splendour [In The Grass]. That’s probably the one thing I'd wanna do, that'd be pretty awesome. I've got more music coming soon. The EP is out in two weeks, but I've got more songs that I've finished that are ready to go after that. So more music, more shows, Splendour in two years. There's no plan on stopping any time soon.

Andy Martin 'Living in the Heat of it All' Tour 2020

Tickets here

Friday, 23rd October

Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane

Friday, 6th November

The Lass, Newcastle  

Saturday, 7th November

Frankie's Pizza, Sydney

Friday, 13th November

BBQ Bazaar, Burleigh

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