INTERVIEW: Tasha D (SMOKING MARTHA)
They say there's no smoke without fire, and for Brisbane rockers Smoking Martha the adage is entirely true, wielding blazing riffs, smouldering vocals and a combustible combo of rock, punk and hooky swagger.
In command of a formidable and ever-growing reputation for their high energy live shows and infectious tunes, both at home and overseas, Smoking Martha can sonically growl and prowl like nobody's business; a fact seen with dazzling force on their latest release, a second full-length album released late last year titled Universe.
Despite releasing their brand new opus amongst a pandemic, Smoking Martha have still managed to bust out their rock and rollin' best onstage in 2022, recently appearing earlier in the year at both Halloween Hysteria and Wallapalooza festivals. But the time has finally come for the band to christen Universe live in action, with a string of shows set in June and July to officially launch their brand new release. And to celebrate the impending shows, The Soundcheck grabbed a smoko with Smoking Martha vocalist Tasha D to chat albums, origin stories and their ultimate musical kryptonite. Read on!
TIANA: Smoking Martha! What an absolute treat to be chatting today, thanks for taking the time, and more importantly - congrats on being able to tour your incredible second full-length ‘Universe’ imminently! I know you’ve already had some shows this year, but how does it feel to be able to properly tour the album after the weird and wild past few years?
TASHA D: We've missed playing live so much as a band, it really is like our kryptonite, it keeps us going, but the break was good as we hadn't really stopped since we started!! But definitely ready to get back on the wagon!! Happiness!
TIANA: ‘Universe’ is such a potent collection of songs, entirely not surprising for anyone already familiar with your musical wiles, you’ve relentlessly snagged attention for your high octane live shows and toe-tappin’ songs for years now…but tell me with ‘Universe’, what was the original idea(s) behind that album, there’s plenty of stylistic oscillation going on, but compared to ‘In Deep’ or your earlier material, did you go into ‘Universe’ with pretty firm intentions about what you wanted it to become? Or did any plans change along the way…?
TASHA: 'Universe' was written straight off the back of our UK tour!! We were so inspired and ready to write as a collective. I feel as a band we had really connected and evolved together naturally, finally understanding our sound and what we wanted going forward.
TIANA: The album scored some pretty universal acclaim, I spied plenty of 10/10 and/or near-perfect scores and gushing reviews…and all extremely warranted, might I add. But can you take me back to where Smoking Martha all began, the band brings such a sweltering combo of swagger, grit and glimmer all at once. What bands or artists were you looking to as inspiration with this project, and how did you all come together as a band ultimately? (aka - the Smoking Martha mini origin story!).
TASHA: Smoking Martha started with Mick and I writing acoustically, aspiring to create a rock, punk, blues combo. A long but fun journey of many talented musos and fun shows later brought us to Matty who basically cemented who we were and who we’d become as a band, he had then introduced us to Jordy who rounded out the rhythm section we were searching for!! Since then it has been a non stop wild ride, like they say it's about the journey not the destination. Each member contributing a wide spread influence, everything from punk, blues, rock, metal, jazz, keeping our writing true to ourselves so the music stays organic.
TIANA: You’ve ripped it up on stages around Australia and overseas as well, in fact you’ve previously been described as “one of Australia’s finest exports” and scored the moniker as one of the “Top 12 Bands To Watch In 2022” in the media…what’s it like when you have journeyed overseas, is there a pretty “standard” Smoking Martha fan no matter where you travel? How do overseas fans react to a Smoking Martha experience?
TASHA: Coming from Australia as a rock band the common misconception is that we are going to sound like ACDC. However our fans are pleasantly surprised and open to our sound!! No matter where we are in the world we will always play like it's our last show, that energy alone always seems to win the crowd over!!
TIANA: While we’re kind of on the topic of live shows for a moment here, can you lift the lid on a particularly standout onstage or on the road Smoking Martha moment? Whether something went horrendously wrong or amazingly right or just something ridiculous that happened?
TASHA: We have had a few wardrobe malfunctions, hair in face moments, my hair in Matty’s mouth, mick standing on my hair…. Btw my hair is short now lol. Apart from the odd technical difficulties, falling off stage, falling on stage moments we've seemed to keep it together OK!!
TIANA: And while 2022 is proving to continue to be a year that live music can continue to be a tangible reality rather than a fever dream, and given you are hitting the road to tour ‘Universe’ on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney…what can fans expect from a 2022 headline Smoking Martha show? Anything new in the pipeline for your live shows that you can reveal?
TASHA: A bunch of new songs off the album, introducing a few more instruments to the live set and a fresh energy!!
TIANA: Looking at the rest of 2022 and beyond, aside from these impending shows, what else has Smoking Martha got on the cards, anything in the not-too-distant future to divulge?
TASHA: More writing and recording and future tours, which we can’t talk about just yet!!
TIANA: And is there potentially still a bucket list event or artist Smoking Martha would love to tick off the list? The sky (or dare I say…universe?) is the limit!
TASHA: We are super proud of what we have achieved so far, but the sky is definitely the limit!!
TIANA: To start to close us out today, Smoking Martha are hypothetically stranded on a desert island with only one other Australia band for company. What band are you bringing with you and why?
TASHA: Hammers, if there's anyone that can light a fire without matches it's those boys!!
TIANA: And lastly - karaoke songs. Some hate ‘em, but we all secretly seem to have a go-to song that we’d bust out when talked into some karaoke. What’s your go-to karaoke song and why?
TASHA: I do like my Karaoke, I actually won $1000 at a karaoke comp before SM started, singing Rush You and Total Control, I probably should've stuck with it ha ha. But I think my faves are Paradise By The Dashboard Light because Ellen Foley’s part was so powerful and Ballroom Blitz cause Cassandra from Wayne's World brought a whole new light to that song!!
CATCH SMOKING MARTHA LAUNCH THEIR BRAND NEW ALBUM UNIVERSE KICKING OFF TONIGHT ON THE SUNNY COAST! TICKET INFO AND MORE AVAILABLE BELOW & HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER