“You Keep Going Til It Goes BANG” – An Interview With Dom Martin

 MJ Steel Collins talks to Dom Martin

Credit: Jim Heal

We all have old songs we like to wrap around ourselves like comforting blankets by listening to them over and over. But finding a new musician whose work becomes another vital layer is a very gratifying experience. This is what you might find when you first listen to Dom Martin. Hailing from Belfast, he has an enthusiastic and growing fan base, and a number of awards under his belt.

Dom recently released his second studio album, A Savage Life (8 April 2022 for Blogger time travellers from the future). This follows his debut, 2019’s Spain To Italy and the 2021 live album, Dom Martin’s Savages – Live At The Harlington. A Savage Life has deservedly received positive reviews across the board from both the media and press, and Dom is a busy man in terms of live shows.

“Thanks very much. It was such a difficult album to record. As far as plans go, well we are all climbing metaphorical mountains right now, but things are starting to really open up again and the gigs are starting to look promising. I’ve a few in the USA in May. A festival in Lillehammer [Norway, in June], also supporting Eric Gales right here in the UK!”

One of those gigs in the USA includes representing the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis - how does he feel about the trips?

“Well, Memphis! It's Memphis. It’s going to be a fantastic trip but I’m well aware why I’m being sent there and I’m bringing my A game. I don’t think there will be a middle ground here. They’ll love or hate me. I’m very much looking forward to finding out! That’s for damn sure. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

What drew Dom towards music and guitar?

“My Dad. He was a mix between Tommy Emmanuel and Ralph McTell. He was the best guitarist I’ve ever heard. He was the genuine article and it’s a damn shame that nobody ever really noticed it behind the booze and cigarettes. Behind the trouble that seemed to follow him everywhere he went without fail. He had five kids and we all witnessed that to some degree. He was a great guy and extremely stubborn. Ask anyone that knew him. That’s what they say. Micky Savage.”

A listener will find a lot of depth to Dom’s music. It sinks under your skin. His is the stuff that really matters and I asked how he went about writing his songs.

“Song writing is like blowing up a balloon. You keep going till it goes BANG! For me it almost always has to come from real life. Unless you are an actor/actress/actor person/person who acts (think I covered all the bases there) if you are…. Ahem… one of those, then yeah it’s OK to watch and listen to, but everyone can see that it’s an act and not genuine. That’s the truth of it. You have to be willing to be selfless. Let go. Make friends with it, you know. Sit down, pick up your favourite guitar. Plug it into your favourite amp. Get it all dialled in right and just sit back and feel the whole world dropping off your shoulders. It’s such a powerful experience. I live for that. I feel sorry for the people that don’t do this. Everyone has a song. Trust me… everyone has a song. And that’s song writing man!”

Credit: Jim Heal

Many people, present writer included, find that music is something that helps them get through difficult times, such as the Covid -19 pandemic, and it’s interesting to ask a musician why music is so important.

“Music is the greatest universal language. It should be a bigger part in mental health awareness too. I’m a big advocate for that and I can honestly say that I feel better when I’m doing something musical than I do when I’m not - and I’m not alone. I ask that question at probably every gig I do and have this conversation and there’s always a few musicians that say, ‘Yes I feel the same way.’ It’s a prescription. Take it and use it. That’s why it’s so important.”

In any art form, influences are important in helping shape the creator’s output. When asked about his, Dom gave a wide range:

“Influences. Good question. I’ll stick with just my guitar hero type of influences. I don’t think anyone wants to read anything else that’s in my head. So guitarists that are the driving force behind a band or that sing too? OK here we go. My dad is first here. Rory Gallagher and Roy Buchanan. Tom Waits. Jose Gonzales. Howlin’ Wolf. Django Reinhardt(he didn’t sing much). Rory Gallagher. Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. Wishbone Ash. Bob Dylan. John Martyn. Rory Gallagher. Mike Bloomfield. Ralph McTell. Blind Blake. Taste and Rory Gallagher. There’s a few I’ve missed it seems. But there’s a few Rory Gallaghers in there too so it’s pretty balanced.”

Credit: Jim Heal

The Covid-19 pandemic and global lockdowns have left the music industry in turmoil, requiring musicians to think outside the box in order to keep their work alive in the face of cancelled tours. How did Dom deal with the impact of the lockdowns?

“I went online. Everything kept going but it moved online, and it moved online overnight. Straight away. It was a way to hone in on the craft and musically it was good experience but for day to day living it was a truly horrific and traumatic experience for all of us…. Or most of us at least. It’s still going to take a few years to settle.”

And finally, for those exploring the blues for the first time, Dom gives some recommendations:

"Elles Bailey is a great place to start, and you have to just go to that show. Martin Harley is also unbelievably talented. Out of the modern I’d go back to Howlin’ wolf. Skip James. Robert Johnson. Big Bill Broonzy all the way up to early Stones. Early Taste and early Rory Gallagher pre-1980. Roy Buchanan. Roy’s gig at Austin City Limits Live. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. I talk about these guys all the time and I keep it going as much as I’m able. I stay original for the most part but the covers I do have been very, very deeply thought of and carefully chosen.

“Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure. All the best."

To find out more about Dom and to get the new album, visit his website: click here


F Parsons said…
What a lovely interview :-)
Anna said…
This was a great interview. As Rory would have said "Straight and to the point". Dom is a great talent and I only hope he continues to gain recognition. He also seems to be such a humble person. Very down to earth.
R Smith said…
Great read!
Really feel how your music drives you Dom x
Lori said…
Great interview Mandy! I love him repeating Rory's name.��