It may seem like a long time coming for local musician/producer and engineer Jon Martin to release the second New Weather Machine album, “Seas Of Dawn,” but Martin has been far from idle.
He has been busy with a number of projects including recording the new Skinny Dyck and Friends Compilation CD, “Twenty One-Night Stands,” and is working on the debut CD from local band Queen of the Worms. He has also been busy finishing up his Masters degree in music.
“So it is and it isn’t a long time coming,” Martin said, en route to putting the finishing touches on the Queen of the Worms CD.
“The last full-length New Weather Machine came out in 2009. I was working on my BA in music and on my Masters and I released two EPs,” he said, adding he wanted to write songs for the CD with a similar theme, in this case change.
“I think an album should be sets of songs that are an experience when you listen to them together, not just 10 songs wth disparate elements. That probably comes from the Beatles — listening to ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and David Bowie and Queen,” he said, noting the connecting theme of “Sea of Dawn” is change in relationship to the environment.
He is already working on the followup on a companion piece to be called “Nothing Comes Between Us,” which will explore the theme of change from a relationship perspective.
“It isn’t part one of two, they are companion pieces,” he continued.
One of the highlights of recording “Seas of Dawn” was getting to play with drummer Kenny Aronoff, who has played with countless big names including John Cougar Mellencamp, John Fogerty, and even Avril Lavigne.
“It’s amazing the power of an e-mail. We have a mutual friend who suggested him, so I sent him an e-mail. It was awesome. I sent six songs to him and went down to Los Angeles to record with him,” he said.
“He’s such a nice guy and he’s so professional. When I got there, he had the songs charted out and could tell just by listening how I set up the drum kit and he had the drums set up the same way,” Martin enthused.
“His regular gig is with John Cougar Mellencamp, but he’s also played with Tony Iommi and Etta James and the Rolling Stones. He’s played with Mick Ronson, who used to play with David Bowie, and Mick Ronson produced John Cougar Mellencamp (on his “American Fool” album), so so that’s my two degrees of separation from David Bowie. So it was pretty awesome just to get to meet him, let alone play with him,” he enthused.
Martin said three of the songs he recorded with Aronoff made it onto the album.
“I wanted the songs that worked the best together,” he emphasized, adding Clayton Smith played drums on the rest of the songs.
“I played everything else, except Jason Oakes and Jesse Northey sing background vocals on ‘Coming Closer,’” he said, noting he has been chipping away at the CD for the past few years in between other projects, though he did most of the work in July and August.
“There were 11 songs on ‘Seas of Dawn’ right before I sent it away for mastering, and I cut three of them because I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time. I didn’t want to have 11 songs and have the album to be less focused as a result,” he said.
Sonically, Martin drew a lot from Bowie and other ’70s rockers.
“I’m a real fan of that sonic aesthetic, which is pretty apparent,” he said.
Martin is still involved with other projects so he won’t be touring in support of the album.
“This is what I’ve been up to and there have been a lot of life changes for me. I had a really short release window for this album. But my favourite part of it, was how it got me excited about writing songs and recording the next album. It showed me sonically what was possible. I really enjoyed the process. I may tour when I release the next album, maybe doing a 45-minute set of each one,” he said.
“I haven’t quite sorted that out yet,” he continued.