Smoking Martha have been burning through venues with their crushing live show since their first EP in 2014, but when Tasha D emailed to say they’re on the cusp of launching their debut album, I was floored. So many gigs and so many killer songs and this is their first album?
“We went into the studio to record another EP but decided we had enough worthy songs to punch out an album,” Tasha said. “We are in the best place creatively right now!”
As well as building a cult-like following as a result of their relentless touring, Smoking Martha have reached a whole swathe of new fans with recent support slots for bands like Everclear, Prophets of Addiction, Uriah Heep and Seether.
And May brings with it another tour for the female-fronted, riff-driven Brisbane rockers.
“We start our album tour in Sydney on 18 May and finish up at Grubfest Coolangatta on the 11th of June,” Tasha told Blank Gold Coast.
It’s been three years since their last EP so the band have a lot to draw inspiration from.
Tasha D explains that the songs in the album describe a series of unwanted feelings and circumstances “that make us feel sometimes trapped but sometimes more passionate and therefore we get in so deep that it consumes us.”
“Different members and a different producer changed the overall recording experience,” Tasha said of their time in the studio. “We were pushed to our full extent with performance and creativity. We love being in the studio and can’t wait to get back in again!”
Sultry, smoky, chunky and honest, Smoking Martha’s forthcoming album In Deep has got everything you’d want from a rock band in 2017. However, as the band’s frontwoman Tasha Doherty contends, being a woman in the music industry isn’t without its challenges.
“It’s a hard one because sometimes [having a female singer] helps us, but other times it doesn’t,” says Doherty. “I think it can definitely make us stand out from the rest, but it can be harder because there’ll be bands that just don’t want a female singer to support them.
“Another problem is, you can get stereotyped as being a typical female-fronted band that everybody knows, like Evanescence, Paramore … People will say, ‘Oh, it’s like that,’ and I say, ‘Oh, I don’t think it is!’ They automatically do it, but if it was a guy singing, you wouldn’t get that.”
However, that doesn’t mean Smoking Martha shy away from addressing the same issues in their music as their peers. Rock music is typically upfront about matters of sex and romance, and Doherty has no problem asserting her femininity in her lyrics – even if she risks being judged for it.
“It’s definitely riskier being a female [singer],” she says. “Some people understand it and others don’t. I definitely think it’s happening more and more – women are singing sexy and be more risqué with your lyrics – but it’s hard because you don’t want it to come across a certain way. It’s got to be very true and very raw.
Interview with Mick & The Partae
How did the band start?
Tash and I started off playing and writing acoustic guitar based songs but decided we wanted to be a raucous loud rockers- so we found the other 3 raddest rockers around!Where are you based?
Usually it starts with someone coming up with a cool riff or musical movement and then we figure out what part of the song it would suit best and then jam it out from there.What are you working on now?
Right now we are in the process of touring our debut album!
How did you find the recording process?
It was intense, but with a relaxed vibe. We were worked really hard but in a good way, that brought out the best takes! We were told to leave our egos at the door and really focus on the music and don’t be sidetracked by all the other bullshit!
How you wanted the EP/album/single to sound at first, how that changed during recording?
What changed during recording was that we found with enough push we could actually play better than we thought we could. It actually sounds like what we envisioned the songs could sound like in our heads! Matt was able to drag that out of our playing and performance and capture the energy!! We had more time to experiment and get the best parts in!!
When the What’s Her Name?single landed before my reviewing pen a few months ago it seemed to have arrived at the perfect time. It gave me the perfect opportunity to rally against the conformity and unadventurous nature of the rock scene at the moment and hold up Smoking Martha as being exactly what was needed to shake things up a bit. The right band, the right sound, the right time. Right? But even with such a great musical calling card and a hint as to what might follow, it still didn’t fully prepare me for just what a joy to behold this full album would be.
In the same way that I waxed lyrical about that song’s ability to strip things back and capture the singular essence of rock, to be simultaneously raw and melodic, incendiary and infectious, cultish and commercial, with In Deep you realise that song was anything but a one off. Smoking Martha have only gone and filled up a whole album of brilliant musical balancing acts and fine-line generic tight rope walks.
With most bands you can probably pinpoint one or two musical references that seem to drive the music, with Smoking Martha things are not quite so straightforward. Although things drive along pretty much on a classic rock vibe or via a more visceral garage rock subversion, this is no mere rehashing of the past and whilst you can probably pick out many of the individual musical building blocks, what they have fashioned them into is a totally new piece of exquisite sonic architecture.
Find a Way broods and glowers with gothic undertones, Ebb of the Tide bristles with high drama and shifting dynamics, and opening salvo So Lonely blends punky skanking guitars with foot on the monitor seminal rock sounds. And the more you peel back the more you find; blues grooves pushed to the extreme, theatrical excesses, grunge intensity, biker bar swagger and effortless attitude. But despite this scattergun of references, or perhaps because of it, nothing here ever sounds derivative, familiar perhaps but just the right blend of comfort zone and new ground being explored.
Smoking Martha is a band looking for a bigger stage. You can hear it in their music, music crafted for big platforms, anthemic launch pads and stadium broadcasts – big songs looking for a big space to call home. I’m sure watching them play in a small music venue is still a brilliant, white-knuckle experience but what they have managed to capture on this album is the best argument ever for them being given the chance to step up and join the big leagues. When that door opens for them, not if but when, rock music will be in an altogether more interesting place.
The future of rock music isn’t just looking bright, it is positively smoking!
Roo’s Live Experience
Stand out moments included the powerful vocals and jazzy breakdown of the older track Ebb of the Tide which garnered a huge crowd reaction. Also, a quieter moment when all but vocalist Tasha left the stage and she sang a raspy, pure and soulful acapella rendition of Ball and Chain (a particularly special moment for me given that it is my all time favourite song and it was performed so elegantly) that left the crowd awestruck. Tasha was then joined by acoustic guitars for a beautiful and heartfelt performance of the track Baby Let Me Go.
The crowd screamed as the band returned to the stage for a heavier end to the show including standouts What’s Her Name, a fantastic drum feature that drove the crowd wild, and Say You’re Mine.
The crowd were seen headbanging, jumping, smiling, singing along, hugging each other and getting thoroughly involved throughout the whole set. There was something indescribably special about this show and the connection with the crowd. The band went to great effort visually and kept their show interesting throughout.
The incredible musicianship, songwriting, stage craft, presence, passion and energy of Smoking Martha at their Album Launch was one of the best shows I have had the good fortune to enjoy.
In Deep – the upcoming new release from Smoking Martha – has got everything you’d want from a rock band. It’s a scorcher and a refreshing one at that, joining the plethora of fantastic female-fronted releases out now.
However, as frontwoman Tasha Doherty contests, being a woman in this industry isn’t without its challenges. “It’s a hard one because sometimes it helps us but other times it doesn’t”, says Doherty. “It can definitely make us stand out from the rest, but it can be harder because there’ll be bands that don’t want a female singer to support them.
“The Sweet’s 1973 hit (Ballroom Blitz) is kind of tough to sing: you’ve got to have humor, gravel, sauce and belt-range all up in your voice to get it right. And if you want to hear it done so right, check out Smoking Martha’s own nightingale Tasha absolutely killing it on the band’s Facebook page.”
“Since emerging as one of Brisbane’s newest independent local Rock sensations in early 2012, Smoking Martha has reignited Brisbane’s fading Rock culture – bringing their ‘eclectic rock punk’ sound to clubs and pubs throughout the country – including their recent triumphant performance on October 11 as support act for well-known American Rock band Everclear.”
Heavy & Weird Music Blog
“Tasha D from Brisbane band Smoking Martha is one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever had the buzz of seeing perform live. As someone particularly interested in powerful female musicians, Tasha was an exciting discovery for me. When I first came across Smoking Martha at a mutual gig, I had the sense of watching something big in the making. Here was a bona fide star, the kind that I could see taking not only local, but international, audiences by storm. (And the kind I can imagine would impress even the most critical of vocal reality shows floating around TV, and deservedly so).
Tasha immediately struck me as a vocal melange of Gwen Stefani, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant…with the stage presence of Cassandra from Wayne’s World. Her tight, polished band has chosen an apt name in ‘Smoking Martha’…their vintage-tinged rock’n’soul performance is a fire that smoulders, warping your senses with waves of heat…sparking, hissing, teasing, and occasionally igniting into a full-blown blaze. “trust me, you’ve gotta see this band perform live…”
Candy Shop TV
“Smoking Martha were one of the first acts to thrill the crowd with their raw rock n roll beat and in-your-face melodies. The collaboration of the drums and electric guitar proved to be too much for the crowd to contain, who were on the dance floor in seconds.”
“Smoking Martha’s music can best be summed up as featuring divine dips and dives and pulled back riffs that tease before they hit overdrive again. This band is so “no guts – no glory”. Each of the five members adds their own personality to create this great fusion of music – this band has a stage presence that demands attention. Tasha knows how to work the crowd – she has a great sense of humor – watch out for Smoking Martha – they are destined to climb the rock and roll ladder.”
“It’s rare to find new music that ticks the boxes for me. It’s even rarer to find one with a female lead singer. And it’s cherry on top stuff to find out they not only hail from Australia but from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Enter “Smoking Martha”.
Boasting a bluesy punk rock sound with a strong vocal performance from their smoking hot lead singer (pun intended) these guys have produced a really catchy and enjoyable first track. I’m even prepared to forgive the lack of any notable guitar solo (a rock staple) because the song just rocks along at an enjoyable pace.
“As the support act “Smoking Martha” took to the stage, I instantly became aware that I was going to see some incredible talent. Though only formed in the last year, Smoking Martha play as if they’ve been playing together for years, all of the members generating an extraordinary amount of energy which was met with unwavering enthusiasm by the audience. A special mention needs to go out to the lead vocalist Tasha. Tasha powerfully captures the audience’s attention through her incredibly dynamic stage presence, this young woman can own a stage like no other, and once you are drawn in, she keeps your attention with her dark and powerful voice, a voice I can only describe as that of a dominatrix angel. (Seriously…you need to hear it…stop facebooking right now and check them out).”
I Probably Hate Your Band
Sleeping Bag Studios
This band of all-stars is like the gift that keeps on giving. Ever since their release of their self-titled EP, I’ve been yelling at the top of my lungs about this crew of five from Brisbane, Australia. Quite honestly, there’s been every reason to yell – partly because people out there NEED to know about Smoking Martha – and partly because I tend to turn this band up so loud that you wouldn’t hear me otherwise. They have collectively proven to my ears countless times that Smoking Martha has the ‘it’ factor…I consider it my duty & honor to make sure the world knows about this band as best I can – and I take this role incredibly seriously…
SO WITHOUT FURTHER EDUE, I’D LIKE TO ANNOUNCE THE DEBUT FULL-LENGTH RECORD – ONE OF MY OWN PERSONAL MOST-ANTICIPATED ALBUMS OF 2017, CALLED IN DEEP FROM SMOKING MARTHA.
You’re all just lucky I don’t type this entire review out in ALL-CAPS…because I am THAT excited about how this whole record turned out for this incredibly dynamic and wickedly entertaining band. They’ve put in the work to really make this album as perfect as can possibly be & those efforts are certainly noted – and the results of it all are songs you’ll want to turn up as loud as your stereo will allow you to.