Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Interview with Martin Springett of The Gardening Club from 2018

Interview with Martin Springett of The Gardening Club from 2018

MSJ: The album released as The Gardening Club was recently reissued in a deluxe edition. What can you tell the readers about that release?

This release comprises of the original Gardening Club LP from 34 years ago, sealed and archived in my basement all those years with no hope, I thought, of ever being seen or heard from again, and a new LP, plus a specially created graphic novel, called, with amazing foresight, "The Gardening Club." I had received an email from Ed Kanerva, a smart young listener of all things prog rock like, asking me if I would be interested in rereleasing the Gardening Club LP on his label, SpaceWreck Records, dedicated to Cosmic Canadiana! To say I was stunned was putting it mildly, after all this was music that I thought no one was interested in any more ( I did not realize at the time that progressive rock was still very much alive and well in the U K and Europe) in a format that was obsolete, and I was ancient, in relative terms anyway. I had kept playing writing and recording, though. I never stopped, but nobody noticed! I met with Ed and found him to be an articulate and knowledgeable fan of the genre, and with his day job as head of marketing and sales at a comic book publisher, media savvy in every way. He loved the Gardening Club album, and I was inspired to send him some other songs that had been written and recorded within a few years of the LP’s release. These songs became, Songs From The Greenhouse, the second LP. With the graphic novel, we called this package "The Gardening Club Trilogy." It’s filled to the gills with my art. I was inspired to go pleasantly over the top. In that delicious exploratory way that so many prog albums are; it’s the music of possibilities!
MSJ: I've seen some people list The Gardening Club under your name, rather than the project name. In what ways would that be accurate, and it what ways would it be inaccurate?
The original LP was called, "The Gardening Club, An Album of Songs By Martin Springett." The new album, The Riddle, takes The Gardening Club as the band name, as it became very much a collaborative venture with all the players involved. I wrote the music and you might say I had the "vision," but I could not have created this new album without producer and fabulous guitarist Norm Macpherson. It just would not have been possible. So, it’s a matter of historical record, if I may be so bold and Proglodite like, that my name is front and centre on the first record; if the new album is referred to in a similar way, well that’s simply a connection to the music that we all can live with, but the band is called, "The Gardening Club."
MSJ: Beyond that particular project, what other music endeavors have you undertaken over the years...sort of a "highlight reel?”

I have recorded at least six other full album projects since 2001. I was lucky enough to know a lot of great players here in Toronto and have friends in the music business who were very sympathetic to my rather crazed idea that I had all this music to get out of my system, even though no one was listening. I did solo gigs and band gigs (always well received), but record companies had no interest. I had gone by my sell by date, as it were. I reached a point where I just had to deal with this most frustrating aspect of my life, and created, Diving into Small Pools, A Musical Autobiography in Song and Interesting Noises. This I think is definitely one of my best albums, very song focused and with a clear eyed attempt to echo the music that has influenced me through my entire life, from The Beatles to Miles Davis, and many other musical touchstones. My "music career" is so fractured (I recorded my first album, settings of Tolkien’s poems, at the age of 21 in 1969, a curse and a blessing as it was never released) and eccentric that I could not possibly take a serious tone with this record, it would have been maudlin and forgettable. I have never really taken myself that seriously. I am too aware of the cosmic giggle, but I take the music very seriously. So I used voice-overs, comments from people I actually met in the music business in London and Toronto, and I brought in my altered ego, Eddie Fielder. I was in fact born, Martin Fielder, but when my folks split up, I took my step dad’s name. I find hard to describe exactly what Eddie is up to on this record, but he is essential. 

Because of my "day job," as an illustrator, I had met many authors whose works I had illustrated. One of my most well known series of images was for Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry. They sold world wide. I was so enamoured of the world of Fionavar that I wrote a series of songs and instrumental pieces that became an album called "Bright Weaving." I performed at many a publishing covention. This along with all the other albums, including a solo guitar record called "Rough Magic," kept the boiler room humming, you might say. So, when I go the call, I was more than ready!

Read on...


The Gardening Club
CD - £9.99

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