Considered by many to be Ireland's finest lyricists, Martin Finke has had a long career, touring endlessly and releasing many records.
Martin Finke is a fully assimilated non-national with an Irish accent who knows the Portuguese for “go mad altogether” and the German for “schadenfreude”. He studied languages, but makes grammar mistakes in his lyrics.
In Spain in 1995 Martin began to write songs about summers and winters in Clifden, where he had grown up listening to Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine and The Wedding Present. Sometimes the songs were verse-chorus-verse, sometimes verse-verse-verse. You heard Mark Eitzel, John Martyn or Will Oldham, or you heard the rumble of a disco in Letterfrack. Connemara stayed in Martin’s songs after he left the burly west coast to rent a room in Boston. He bought a used four-track and started recording and playing shows furiously.
Since his appearance on the first series of RTE’s “Other Voices” Martin has done stints in Dublin and London, and currently lives in San Francisco, where he is working on a new record, scheduled for release in the spring of 2008. It will have clicks and broken sounds and badass melodies.
Ruby Sessions biography:
Martin Finke was born in Germany, but he will tell you he is Irish. His mother brought him to Ireland at the age of four, and they settled there. He grew up in Clifden, County Galway, in a bilingual house on the bog.
As a teenager, Martin listened to Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine and The Wedding Present. He studied languages, and marveled at the use of the English language in Ireland. On exchange in Spain in 1997, he began to understand his ties to the west of Ireland, and started to write songs about summers and winters in Clifden. Don't sit waiting for verse-chorus-verse; instead you’ll hear songs that pull you in and leave you to your own devices: Mark Eitzel, John Martyn or Will Oldham.
Connemara is a place that would continue to feature heavily in his songs after he moved away from the burly west coast, and rented a room in Boston in 1998. He bought a used four-track and started recording and building up a live following, playing often alongside his friend Josh Ritter. He began to book shows for Irish songwriters in a local club, staging Mundy, Katell Keineg, Glen Hansard and Mark Geary.
To date Martin has released three home-recorded albums and an EP, playing the instruments himself. All have been released on the independent Mango Music label. The video for Raincloud, from his last record Let It Ring, has been shown on No Disco (Ireland). He has been selling the records at gigs and through independent record shops, something he has continued to do since moving to Dublin in June 2002.
Since coming home, Martin has signed with Parallel Music, a new independent label in Dublin. He has recorded a studio album in Glasgow, enlisting the help of bassist Richie Egan (David Kitt band, The Redneck Manifesto) and drummer Joss Moorkens (The Dudley Corporation). This album, entitled Untended Stories, solidifies a craft that he has been building on for years. He will tour Ireland in April to coincide with its release.
Martin will also appear as a special guest in the Hummingbird production Other Voices: Songs From A Room. This programme highlights the best of today’s Irish songwriting talent, including Mundy, Damien Rice, Maria Doyle-Kennedy and Paddy Casey. The 13-part series, produced by the makers of Bringing It All Back Home and hosted by Glen Hansard, will be aired on RTE 1 in February.
Martin started playing acoustic guitar in Clifden, County Galway. He moved to Spain for a year in 1994 and wrote his first songs there. He was listening to Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine and The Wedding Present and wanted to write songs full of harmonies. He still does, and on stage evokes Mark Eitzel, Leonard Cohen, Bob Mould, even David Kitt.
In 1997 he started up Clifden’s first open mic and played there every week of the summer.
The following year Martin moved away from the burly west coast, and rented a room in Boston for four years.
Since then Martin has made homemade records and released four of them on Mango Music. He was included on the Mango Music release For Your Machine. The newest Jim Sheridan film, due for release towards the end of the year, features a car stereo playing the track How Late It’s Grown, from Martin’s latest record Let It Ring.
Martin has played in Ireland with Josh Ritter, The Frames, Steve Fanagan, Mundy. In America he has played with Katell Keineg, Glen Hansard and Mundy, in Boston, Northampton and New York City.
Let It Ring was released at the beginning of November. Martin made this album fragile, textured and dynamic, playing guitar, bass, keyboards and drums on it.
In June 2002, Martin moved to Dublin. A studio album is scheduled for release in the winter.
Martin Finke was a co-founder of the Baskethouse open mic nights in Clifden, Co. Galway (his home town) back in 1997. It was at Baskethouse that he first began to showcase himself, as well as booking acts like The Frames, Gemma Hayes, Mark Dignam, Mundy, and The Prayer Boat.
In 1998 he moved away from the burly west coast, and arrived in Boston. There he bought a 4-track and started recording, as well as playing open mics and small gigs in the area. In May 2000, an EP titled 'How Not To' appeared, and not long after, Martin featured on the Mango Music compilation 'For Your Machine'.
In November 2000 Martin's most recent album 'Cast In Old Cast Iron' was released on Mango Music. This release solidifies a craft and style that has been growing for years - don't sit waiting for verse-bridge-chorus indie rock, because you won't find it. More than ever, Cast In Old Cast Iron brings to mind Dave Pajo (and his gentler Aerial M exploits), Mark Eitzel, Will Oldham, and maybe a more morose Lou Barlow.
Recent live dates in Ireland include playing with the Frames in Whelans, and also with Mango Music label-mate Steve Fanagan. He plays regularly in Boston (the Kendall Cafe, The Abbey Lounge, The Druid) and New York (the Living Room, Arlene Grocery, the Pineapple Room). His most recent project has been with Rian Kelly as Mineymoh. Their album Tramps & Wisdom was produced by Mike Flood (Sparkalepsy, Sebadoh).