INTERVIEW: Martin Carr Speaks!

INTERVIEW: Martin Carr Speaks!

Martin Carr was the once guitarist in Britpop chartbusters Boo Radleys. Following the bands split Martin went on to record further timeless music, one of his albums Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) is being reissued via AV8 Records on limited edition vinyl. Gigslutz caught up with Martin to talk about the album, his upbringing and what he’s up to now:

Hi Martin, can you please tell me abit about your upbringing?

My mum was a nurse and my Dad was a copper. Neither were religious but, because of my nan’s influence on my mum, we went to catholic school and church until we, my twin brother and I, rebelled at 14 and stopped going. My nana was religious. The inside of her house, a cozy semi in Swinton, looked like the Vatican gift shop. She was more religious than God.

When she wasn’t praising something or other she would clean the church and deliver lovingly baked cakes, coffee, chocolate or Bakewell to the priests, whom I assume forwarded it to the boss, but when she went mad and ran around the streets in her nightie, they did nothing.

I loved being there. It’s a warm glow in my memories, a beacon that I can return to again and again. There it is forever Christmas, highly flammable decorations hanging from every inch of the walls and ceiling with a roaring fire at the heart. I was there when Bing Crosby and one of the Popes died(their deaths are not officially linked). I was there when Frank Worthington scored that goal.

My Aunt and Uncle lived further up, the other side of station road, and almost every time we walked up there, two or three older lads would ask us where we were from and take the spending money we’d recently prised from my Dad’s tight fist. After reading Shaun Ryder’s book I discovered that he had lived on that very road and would have been around the same age as our tormentors. I hope it was him.

What was the first music you can remember hearing?

I remember being in a pram in my nan’s front garden and Hey Jude comes on the radio and my Uncle Chris, says ‘Beltin’ song, this’. It would have to be spring/summer of 1969 but I don’t know if it’s a true memory but it’s one of my oldest.

Who influenced you to play guitar?

Eddie Cochran.

What about singing, who influenced you?

I’m constrained by limited ability, so I don’t have much to work with. My favourite singers are, Connie Converse, Jenny Lindfors and Little Simz.

Did you find it easy to start composing music from an early age?

Yes. I couldn’t work out how to play other people’s songs, so I had to start writing my own. I think I would have benefitted from going through that process. Learning other people’s song gives you an understanding of how to construct and arrange your own material and a recognition of how simple at their core most songs are.

Were you in any bands prior to Boo Radleys?

Me and Sice (Boo Radleys lead singer) had called ourselves different things but it was always the same band.

When the Boo Radley split did you have any aspirations to carry on making music?

Of course. I didn’t enjoy the music we were making and wanted to do something entirely different, but I couldn’t get it together. I ended up making more music that I wasn’t really interested in.

AV8 records are rereleasing your stunning album Ye Gods (And Little Fishes). Did you have all the songs that are on the album before you went into the studio?

I think so, yes. I had gone through a period of not being able to make any kind of music and had gone back to learning fingerpicking on the acoustic. When you are faced with a block you need to switch it up and the exercises slowly turned into songs.

Can you please tell me about some on the meanings behind some of the songs:

Darwins Tree – It’s an anti-religion song but also appreciative of the incredible works of art, music and architecture that religion has inspired over the ages.

Gold Rush 49 – I started off writing an autobiographical song. I was born in Thurso, Britain’s Northernmost town, but it somehow morphed into a story about a young man escaping the dust bowl and following the gold craze to California where he has his first drink and his first sexual encounter.

The Golden Key – I felt that I’d thrown away my chance, that I’d been given everything that I had always wanted and I had made a mess of everything.

Did you tour this album at the time of release?

I played a lot around that time. Sometimes it was just me and my partner, others it was me and Barefoot Dance of the Sea, three girls singing beautiful harmonies. I also toured with Jimmy Webb, I had a small band for that one.

Were you happy with the initial response from fans and critics at the time?

I don’t really remember. It was digital only, so it didn’t make much of an impact.

Fast forward to 2024 and AV8 records are releasing the album on vinyl. How did this collaboration with AV8 come about?

I’ve chatted with Nick for a while on Twitter and when he approached me, I was hesitant at first because I always think I’m going to let people down but he and the rest of the label are so bloody nice and supportive that my resistance turned to dust. They are doing great things there.

Did you ever envisage the album getting a reissue at some stage?

No. I’d almost forgotten about it to be honest.

Will you be going out on tour to promote the release?

No. I have too much to do here but I would like to play soon, it’s been a while.

What are you up to musically at present?

Working on the next album. I’m doing it at home so it will take a while. You can’t rush these things and besides, my last album only came out seven years ago.

Finally, what’s on your turntable at present?

Leta Mbulu – Leta Mbulu Sings

King Geedorah – Take Me to Your Leader

Connie Converse – How Sad, How Lovely.

Gong – Master Builder

Zak Bia, 347aiden and L’il Yachty – One of Those Days

Mogollar – Cigrik

Julius Rodriguez – Mission Statement

Blossom Dearie – Now At Last


Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) can be pre-ordered via the following link