(Editor’s note: The band now goes by Hello Casanova, but still plays the music they recorded as Foreign Affairs NI)
This is the third of three parts in a “Meet the Band” series on Foreign Affairs NI, which released “Pennies” on March 25.
Martin Miller is the backbone of Foreign Affairs — he is the drummer, the businessman and often the designated driver. He also has quite the sense of humor and is a real jokester.
Needless to say, a conversation with Martin is guaranteed fun. Here’s what he had to say about Ireland, joining the band and their recent visit to Los Angeles.
OK, so I know you aren’t Irish by birth … So tell me about Latvia and when and how you came to live in Ireland.
I came over 2007 for couple of month and 8 and a bit years later I’m still here. Latvia is a lovely country, very much different from Ireland. If you ever have an opportunity, go and visit Latvia and enjoy the culture and welcoming people. If you haven’t the cash, Google it sure.
I will be sure to look it up. So what brought you to Ireland to start with?
My cousin basically. I was working as a chef back home — 16 hours a days, 6 days a week. Needed a change and came over for apple season here to earn some cash. Just before my time was up, I was offered a full-time job. I had to make the biggest decision of my life and moved to Ireland for good.
So I’m guessing this job is much better? Those were some long hours you were working!
A job is a job. I’m not afraid of work. I left home when I was 16 to work alongside doing a course in college. I’m a qualified chef and work on a farm. You could say life has a weird sense of humor. If you were to tell me 10 years ago that I’d be living in Ireland growing apples in 2016, I’d send you on your bike.
I did work long hours, but I believe it does you a world of good. You become a better person! You know what hard work is even though the reward is small. I suppose working culture is much different over here. Everyone’s looking for that job where you do nothing and get paid loads. In Eastern Europe, unfortunately, its the other way around.
Yep, I’m sure everyone wants that job. But the rest of us have to work hard, for sure. Now, how long have you been a drummer?
Been drumming since I was about X ( can’t remember and not going to lie). Started in a church actually and they paid for my first lessons. After that, me and my brother had an alternative Christian band, kind of Lifehouse style. Love Lifehouse even though many haven’t a clue who they are.
When I moved to Ireland, that was put on hold for few years though it was something I missed doing. Drumming is not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.
OK, I know Lifehouse. So how did you pick drumming back up in Ireland?
Lifehouse are the best. The key word here is furniture. I was moving into a new flat and a work colleague of my missus had some furniture she was not using, so while picking that up, I met Matt and behold, in his room, he had a drum kit. I offered to come and jam with him if he ever needed a drummer. Things basically escalated from there.
Haha, I knew you met because of furniture, I just didn’t know the whole story. So how soon did he have you back to play?
Within next couple of weeks I saw him on Facebook trying to form a band and I offered my services.
Had he recruited Ethan then too? Did he have any of the current songs at that point?
Ethan joined around the same time, if I recall correctly. Most of our stuff that’s out is more recent. Matt had few songs but we never recorded them at that time. Like ” Stay ” and “Different Life” are as old as it gets, I think.
I can see that. They are a little calmer, before the real sound came out. When did you become Foreign Affairs? Any other names before that?
Band name is probably the hardest thing you do as a group of people ever. Guessing we become a thing in 2012? Memory is bad, probably should have mentioned this at the start.
That’s OK, not everything is memory related. Now, “Pennies is coming” — How much did you help shape it?
Martin play drums.
Haha — So you just take the sticks and bang on things ..
Basically, yeah. Matt comes to practice with an idea and we work on it. We all try and put our own ideas into songs. Some work some don’t. It’s a bit easier when you know what kind of sound or path if you wish you’re aiming for as a band.
I would try all kinds of stuff with my limited ability, but the truth is nothing is set in stone until you are in recording studio, as even in the morning of recording you’d be thinking if there’s anything could be improved. “Pennies” was a bit like that. But the end result for me, as a drummer, I couldn’t be more proud.
Yeah, it really is a rambunctious little bastard. I quite like it.
Now, I asked Matt and Ethan what their favorite part of the December trip to Los Angeles was and what the strangest thing was …
My favorite part of the trip was probably the breakfast at the hotel. Not going for the obvious music-related things — although we did have a great show and met some amazing people!
Strangest thing for me was … not being understood. For an English-speaking country, you guys sure cannot make out what an Irish person is talking about!
Haha, well, I had no problem when we’ve spoken on the phone. I’ll go as your translator next time … Last couple of questions … Musical influences and favorite TV shows and movies?
My favorite band is Lifehouse but I enjoy all kinds of stuff, as long as it’s not metal.
Watch a lot of comedy and enjoy shows like “Supernatural” and “Bones.”
Favorite movies of all time: “Snatch,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Expendables,” “Hangover” … and I enjoy watching likes of “13th Warrior” and “Braveheart” too many times.
To get Foreign Affairs EPs “Heartline” and “Prologue,” go to http://foreignaffairsire.bandcamp.com/