OSM: How long have The State Of Art been together and when did you form?
Andy: I formed the band in 2007 but the line-up didn’t solidify until 2009 when Martin Johnson joined on bass and Martin Ellis returned on drums. Mark completed the line-up on lead guitar after the release of our debut album in 2017.
Martin Ellis: We’ve all been friends since school and college days. Essentially, it’s just mates hanging out and playing music together which makes it so easy to be creative and really enjoy what we do.
OSM: Has any particular artist or genre influenced your music the most?
Andy: Definitely the lyric writing of Roger Waters, production wise Trevor Horn, general songwriting Ron Sexsmith.
Martin Johnson: For me it’s Mike Dirnt, Peter Hook, Geddy Lee specifically; 90’s alternative music, prog and post punk/indie generally.
Mark: My influences range from Pink Floyd to hard rock, also a bit of thrash, grunge and 90s Brit rock I’m also quite partial to some Dre and early Eminem.
Martin Ellis: Hell yeah, can’t go wrong with a bit of old school Snoop or Dre. My main tastes revolve around skatepunk, specifically 90’s Epi/Fat bands but I also love pop punk, 90s emo, various genres of metal and indie/britpop/brit rock.
OSM: Your new single, ‘Hold Me Close’’ is out now. What was the songwriting and recording process of the track?
Andy: Mark came up with the chord sequence, we worked on it together in rehearsals, finalising the structure and then I capped it off with lyrics. Our recording process is to record multitrack drums to a click with guide tracks in Pro tools. Then add bass and major guitar parts. Finish off with vocals and mix and master in logic.
OSM: What is the theme of the song, what is its message?
Andy: It’s a song about love, loss and loneliness in our modern world and that it’s ok to feel like that, everyone does. It’s OK not to be OK.
OSM: What challenges have you faced since launching your career?
Martin Johnson: General apathy of venues towards original bands, Covid disrupting recording process/life in general, not getting frustrated with own limitations.
Martin Ellis: Yeah, Covid was probably the biggest challenge. We were almost ready to release “The Great Silence” but coming back after the first lockdown gave us a chance to write more and that's when “Hold Me Close” and “Convenience Store” were written which ended up on the album.
OSM: What is the scene like in the Grimsby area?
Martin Johnson: Sparser than it was. Less unified - everyone knew everyone and gigs had a much wider variety of acts.
Andy: Yes the scene was good, now full of commercial places that don’t like to take a chance.
Martin Ellis: A lot of the people who used to put on gigs moved away and the DIY scene kinda died off not long after. Most venues tend to look for cover bands to get punters through the door with songs they know. Yardbirds is probably the best venue in the area for the quality of gigs. Docks Academy have been putting on a lot but they tend to stick with more established bands and a lot more could be done to support local bands. While the venues aren’t quite there, there are a lot of talented bands in the area who deserve a lot more exposure.
OSM: What are the plans for the year ahead for yourselves?
Andy: I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas song. We ticked off doing our take on a Bond theme with our own “No Time To Die” which we released in 2020 so I think a Christmas song is next. Other than that, we’ve already got a batch of new songs written or in the process of finishing so we will follow up “The Great Silence” with an EP or two.
OSM: If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
Martin Johnson: It’s hard to say. Stop treating music/artists purely as commodities.
Martin Ellis: Pay bands for gigs with money instead of beer which I can’t drink because I’m pretty much always driving. Or worse, using the tired old line of “exposure”.
Andy: I’d like to change the way Spotify pays royalties.
OSM: If you could share the stage with another band or performer who would it be?
Andy: I’d love to share a stage with Pink Floyd.
Mark: In my opinion Myles Kennedy is an all-round songwriting genius and also a cracking guitar player, it would be great to share a stage with him.
Martin Johnson: For me it would be A or Rush.
Martin Ellis: A is a great shout, they’re great fun live! I'd also love to share the stage with Therapy? cos along with Nirvana, they're what got me into heavier music.
OSM: What songs are on your playlist right now, which songs are you into at the moment?
Andy: At the moment I’m into Jellyfish and Phoebe Bridgers.
Mark: Of course, I've been listening to Myles Kennedy and also some old school Green Day and Terrorvision amongst others.
Martin Johnson: I’ve been enjoying lots of old school thrash recently, so songs like Madhouse by Anthrax and other heavy stuff like Killer be Killed, the song Wings of Feather and Wax is ace! Also been randomly into Soul 2 Soul recently so Keep on Movin’ has had some heavy rotation.
Martin Ellis: I've been enjoying the latest Hot Water Music and Ignite albums. I've recently seen Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids for the first time live and they were amazing! There’s also a UK Power Metal band called Fellowship who have just released their debut album which is making me so happy right now.