Bristol based band Martyrials are a breath of fresh air. Their live shows offer an electric mix of punk, glam and psychedelic sounds. Eschewing the traditional set up of bass, guitar and drums, a keyboard is the star of the show played frantically by lead singer Sammy. GIGsoup catches up with them as they return from a Greek tour and showcase the track Are You Having Fun?
Firstly, the name Martyrials is pretty different, what made you choose that name?
Sammy: It’s a combination of the words Martyr and Materials cus all of us in some way are sacrificing ourselves for materialism.
Your sound seems to be have a genre all of its own. It’s part punk but also has this psychedelic space age vibe. Who are your greatest inspirations when it comes to your sound?
Sammy: The Stranglers, Devo, Dead Kennedys and Ramones are my biggest punk influences and then I guess Pink Floyd and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are contenders for the psychedelic spot. But my other influences are bands like The Beatles, Queen and Electric Light Orchestra – I love that ‘big’ sound you know?
Oana: My drumming influences are rooted in hardcore punk, ska and funk that I grew up listening to. Bands like Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Pennywise, NOFX, Bikini Kill, Streetlight Manifesto, The Distillers, Fugazi.
Matty: In high school I played trombone and double bass which exposed me to a lot of jazz and classical music, I really wanted to learn guitar but instead I just watched tonnes of videos showing guys like Steve Vai and Slash…I started teaching myself bass guitar a few years ago, since then I guess my greatest influences are Alter Bridge, Avenged Sevenfold and Green Day.
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What track on your EP An Influx of Heritage would you say represents the band the most?
Matty: Are You Having Fun, because we genuinely want to know.
Sammy: I’d also say Are You Having Fun – it’s our malpleasurable mantra
Oana: Aachen, even though Fun is a hit as well, Aachen is the one that people enjoy the most live. They can mosh to it and we interact with them the best. Everyone i’ve shown the band to liked Aachen the best.
You’ve just come back from a mini tour of Greece. How did that get organised? What was the best thing about it?
Matty: Sam is some sort of wizard at getting us gigs in random places.
Sammy: Kostas and George from the band Head On stayed with us in Bristol through Couchsurfing and they invited us over to Greece to play! We had one in Patra and one in Athens. Greek crowds and venues are on another level, the crowds really got us. Although they were initially very confused about what we’re about we managed to win them over. The best thing? the Anarchist culture and the bakeries that are open till 4am.
Oana: The best thing was how welcomed we felt coming into the country as an unknown act.
Matty: The best part was the people out there – the ones who came to see us play and the ones who went above and beyond to take care of us!
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One great thing about the band is the use of a keyboard as a front instrument. What made you want to step away from the traditional guitar, drums, bass set up?
Sammy: It was more due to accident than design.
Matty: Different is good! and guitar is hard.
Oana: We didn’t necessarily step away from the traditional set up just for the sake of it, we still have drums and bass. I think having the keys as a front instrument helped the band’s sound expand. Together with the variation of sounds and notes which, i have to say, couldn’t have been possible without Sammy’s very brilliant imagination and talent.
Sammy: I’ve always played piano because my fingers are too spindly and crooked for guitar. Dan [Pryke, original bassist and also bassist for Swindon genre-dissolvers Diagonal People] and I were originally writing Depeche Mode-esque pop songs – like Any Port in a Storm. Essentially synth pop that gradually got noisier and noisier until it became the glam punk glittery mess that is today.
If you could tour with any band, who would it be and why?
Oana: Streetlight Manifesto – they are crazy and energetic
Matty: Dirty Loops, I just wanna see Henrik Linder tear things up on bass.
Sammy: The Menstrual Cramps & Kiss Me Killer – they’re the only new punk bands i’ve been able to really get into lately and they’re all truly lovely people.
Why would someone want to come and experience Martyrials live?
Oana: You’ll see Sammy’s nips
Matty: The energy is contagious and there’s always some sort of tech issue, what’s not to love?
What is your song writing process like?
Matty: Personally I start with riffs, though the ideas we’ve pursued through this method have been quite open-ended, so they’ve been difficult to fit into our sets.
Sammy: Watch this space though. We’re delving deep and want to have a lot more delay-soaked 20 minute improvisations in the future. I write lyrics and music separately then smash them together and hope it works. All my songs are concept songs, tongue-in-cheek or abstract but I still like to keep the themes current. Like the new album has songs about family friendly topics like Guantanamo Bay, the Khmer Rouge, Artificial Intelligence, Learning Algorithms and Mental Health.
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What has the reaction to An Influx of Heritage been like?
Sammy: That exploding head emoji.
Matty: I think they liked it but it’s too late to ask.
What does the next 6 months hold for Martyrials?
Sammy: We’re doing a few mini UK tours, one with The Unknown at the end of May and Head On are flying from Greece for an end of June tour. We’re chipping away at the next album so that should be out at some point this year. It’ll be bigger, longer, louder and darker. Stay Angry, Stay Listening.
Martyrials – An Influx Of Heritage is out now