10 Questions with Tara of Ladies of The Canyon

Amazing Female Band Ladies of The Canyon with Female Drumming Tara Martin Tom Tom Magazine

By Emily Kennedy for Tom Tom Magazine

Full Name: Tara Martin

Age: 33

Hometown: Montreal

Lives In: Montreal

Past Bands: Shoot The Moon, Eleveneighty, Percy Farm, Daniel Isaiah, Bujo

Current Bands: Ladies of The Canyon, and a bit of session work on the side

Day Job: Ladies of The Canyon

Kit Setup: 10-inch kick, snare and two floor toms, crash and a ride. “It’s a very simple, small setup.”

Opening for The Barenaked Ladies has been awesome, right? I won’t lie I was really nervous before we left, I was like “Oh my God these are the biggest shows I’ve ever played…” and then once we got there and after the first night jitters were over it’s just been pretty smooth. They have it down to a science these guys, and they’ve been working with the same crew for like 20 years, so it really goes smoothly every night.

Are you excited to tour with a real, big tour bus for the east coast dates? I don’t want to smell that bus at the end of the ten days [laughs]! Apparently being on a tour bus is pretty awesome but there are some downsides to it too, like apparently there’s nothing to do during the day because you don’t have a hotel, so the tour bus driver suggested he could drop us off at the mall during the daytime [laughs] so we can go hang out and eat and stuff. I hadn’t even thought about that.

Do you have anything else in your bag of tricks for how to survive on the road? I do, I’ve kind of got it down over the last few months. At the beginning I found it very overwhelming because the schedule is a bit ridiculous, and you’re not getting a lot of sleep. I bring tons of vitamins, that’s the first thing. I drink tons of water, like four litres of water a day, because you don’t realize how dehydrated you get when you’re travelling and flying. I bring CLIFF bars in my bag at all times because I don’t eat meat and it’s very hard to eat in airports and on planes when you are a vegetarian. The most important thing is I try to get approximately seven hours of sleep.

Amazing Female Band Ladies of The Canyon with Female Drumming Tara Martin Tom Tom Magazine

Before you joined the band, Jimmy Paxon was drumming with the Ladies on the new record. What was it like following his footsteps? Yeah, when I came on board the record was essentially finished. It’s kind of mind blowing actually. Not only are those very huge shoes to fill, because Jimmy Paxon is a monster drummer (Stevie Nicks, Ben Harper), but it’s a challenge sometimes to make something sound like yours, so I tried to stay true to the parts generally, but I also tried to make them my own every night. So me and Anna (bass) have an awesome time playing around a little bit. I think both of us change a little something every night to kind of keep it exciting.

What tracks from Diamond Heart do you play on? I play on “The Change” and “Diamond Heart,” and percussion on some others. I also sing backup on several tracks.

What’s your favourite track on Diamond Heart? “She Crossed the River.” That was one of the first songs that the girls sent me when I was going to audition with them, and at first I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It’s kind of got this dark country vibe, and the lyrics are so profoundly sad and kind of disturbing. That one has just always stuck with me. We usually open with that song, and it’s awesome that we get to open with it because I never have to wait to play it.

How did you come to be a member of Ladies of the Canyon? Me and Maïa (lead guitar) were friends when we were teenagers, we went to the same school. I was a singer songwriter back then, and she was playing piano and singing. We would hang out together and play shows together and I always thought she was awesome—w e had a mutual respect for each other. She moved to Toronto and we just kind of lost touch. Then all of a sudden one day I got a Facebook message out of nowhere—I think I hadn’t seen her in 5 or 6 years—and she asked me what I was up to. She was putting out her French solo record and she was looking for somebody to tour with her. And so we had a little jam session at my house, and we kind of reconnected. I did the tour for her French solo record, and it was during this period that LOTC had a change in the line-up, and Maia called me up and was like “Hey, do you wanna’ jam with us?” I was crapping my pants I was so nervous, I was a fan already… So we jammed and that was it and it kind of went from there. We just went full-force. So it was really kind of serendipitous and weird… So here I am.”

What attracted you to the drum set? It was kind of necessity, to be honest. I was making a record when I was 18 or 19 with my friend, and I was trying to find a drummer that could play something very simple but play it to a click, and have some taste, I guess. And all these guys kept coming in with like 20 rag toms, and playing 17 fills, I was just like “Whoa, whoa whoa!” I literally was having so much trouble finding someone that could play something tasteful and simple, I decided I was just gonna’ do it myself. So I started like that… Back then it wasn’t that common to have a girl drummer, especially a girl drummer that can sing and play other instruments, so it was definitely another tool in my arsenal, so I started getting more calls to play in more bands and I got more experience, and it just kind of started from there. I adore playing drums, it’s very cathartic and therapeutic to bang on things.

Do you have a unique drumming trick or strategy that’s maybe not orthodox, but really works for you? One of the things that I did when I was learning—and this is on the advice of a very, very smart teacher—he told me that when I listen back to any recordings that I’ve done, that “You’re always gonna’ wish that you hadn’t played something.” So, I would put on Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre records in my headphones and I would just concentrate on playing them, because most of those records don’t have any fills, they don’t have any crashes really, so I would just play along with them and try to get the placement. And it was amazing for my playing, it really changed my approach. So now when I’m the studio I’m like ‘Nope don’t play that fill.” It’s not that I never play fills or never embellish, it’s just that you really have to know when to do it.

Who would you name as some of your drumming inspirations? I remember going to see Peaches a few years back, and Samantha Maloney was drumming for her, this blonde powerhouse drummer, with two kick drums. I was like “Oh my God.” She totally rocked my whole world.  I also really like Steve Jordan, Allison Miller, and Cindy Blackman.

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