How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Ten years old.
What was your first guitar? Did you buy it yourself? Do you still have it?
It was a Spanish classical guitar my grandparents bought me for Christmas as my dad insisted I had lessons in that style to start things off.
Martyn's first guitar.
Did your parents or grandparents play any instruments? If so, what did they play? Did you ever get a chance to play with them?
My grandfather sang and entertained a little in the war years. I have vivid memories of him sitting with me on his lap at the piano and helping me press down the keys.
What are the guitars that you play? Do you have a favorite? If so, why is it your favorite?
What strings do you use (brands and gauges)? How often do you change your strings?
Elixir 11-52...every 5 shows or so.
Do you use a pick?
Do you use any effect pedals? If so, what are your favorites?
Do you work on your own guitars or do you bring them to a guitar tech? Are there any guitar techs that you would like to recommend?
There is a guy in Wales called Eltham Jones and he is brilliant. I have a joke about him that he always tells me why something can’t be fixed before he goes ahead and fixes it!
Do you have a favorite guitar shop?
Not really no, love them all and always have to stop and look. It’s an addiction!
At what age did you start writing songs?
Ten, but I had a very long way to go!
What is your songwriting process? Is it the music or the lyrics that usually come to you first? Do you write old school on paper, or electronically?
For me it’s always having something to say. The music comes easily, it’s having something authentic that I’m passionate about that will make me think of songwriting.
Martyn's song about Andrea Bell, who runs the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen.
I write by hand first and then transfer to computer as I’m finalising lines etc.
Who are the top three musicians or bands that have had a major influence on you?
Bruce Cockburn, Elvis, Bruce Springsteen.
If you could jam with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Ummm, tough but probably Glen Campbell.
What are your top three “desert island” albums?
Tunnel Of Love, - Bruce Springsteen
Ten Easy Pieces - Jimmy Webb
Aloha From Hawaii - Elvis
What was the first concert you attended? What was the last concert you attended?
Hawkwind. Elton John.
The Beatles or the Stones?
Beatles by a mile.
Where and when was your first paid gig? How much did you make?
Barnstable, England, 1982 £80.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
Probably being to CBS Records in the early nineties, but in all honesty the guitar has taken me to some very beautiful but tough places. Playing songs to beautiful Palestinian people by the separation wall ranks pretty high up there too.
What has been your worst gig so far and why? (You don’t have to name names).
Can’t think of one really...you just try to make it work every time.
What are some of the venues you enjoy performing at the most? What things make the venue enjoyable for the performer (location, equipment, setup, organizers)?
Sound every time. If I have good sound then I can do the rest...hope that doesn’t sound too arrogant.
How do you work out your setlist?
Try to make it different every night. With 24 studio albums that’s not hard. It keeps it fresh for me and for the audience.
Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out in the music business?
Be true to yourself and what you feel. Don’t let them take you down a different path.
Photo credit: Mark Dyde
Do you have any suggestions for a guitarist or songwriter who might be stuck in a musical rut?
Listen to music...simple as that. Be inspired by the great work of others and you’ll find the way through.
If you weren’t a singer-songwriter, what would you be doing for work?
Professional golfer...that was my other path...long story. :)
Martyn at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.
Please list some of your upcoming shows, plug your music and provide links to your merchandise.