Interview

Episode 132 – Lauding the Art of Music with Martin Popoff

Mark interviews Martin Popoff about his latest book ANTHEM: Rush in the 70’s as well as a lifetime of passion writing about music.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update and some comments from recent episodes, and a word from this episode’s sponsor, Findaway Voices.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at starkreflections.ca/Findaway.

In their conversation, Martin and Mark talk about:

  • Martin’s introduction to music when he was six or seven years old
  • Turning people into metal-heads when Martin was working at a record store about the age of fifteen
  • How people learned about music and records prior to the internet
  • How Martin’s love and passion for music evoled into life of writing about music, which he started to do full time in 2000
  • Martin’s first book, which was a self-published book of a collection of record reviews, which later got picked up by a traditional publisher in 1997
  • Writing 9 or 10 music books per year
  • The style of music review that Martin prefers to write
  • The importance of talking about and lauding the art of the entire music production when writing a book about musicians and their work
  • The interesting nature of the narrative of the story of a band and the narrative of a band’s concept album
  • How Martin values letting the band speak for themselves in the books he writes about them, relying on actual quotes from lengthy interviews, rather than blatantly injecting his own theory into the narrative
  • The different listening experiences of listening to a full album start to finish from a vinyl LP and listening to it in custom single song chunks in a digital era
  • The recent collaborative Canadian multi-location/self-isolation version of “Lean on Me” from Canada Strong
  • Martin’s original 2003 Rush biography: Contents Under Pressure which is now out of date and out of print
  • How the desire to write a single comprehensive updated book about Rush resulted in well over 350,000 words and 3 volumes. Anthem: Rush in the 70s. (May 202) Limelight: Rush in the 80s (Oct 2020) Drive: Rush in the 90s (In the End) (Spring 2021)
  • The use of interview footage from Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
  • Something that surprised Martin in writing these volumes
  • How there is nobody who sounds like Rush and that are, in many ways, their own unique genre in music
  • What a good gate-way Rush song might be for someone who doesn’t think their music is accessible
  • Martin’s Podcast: History in Five Songs
  • What music Martin listens to when he is writing

After the interview, Mark reflects on the volume of publishing Martin has done, which is atypical for a traditionally published author; he also reflects on the dynamic nature of the relationship and flexibility he has with his publisher.

Links of Interest:

At approximately 7900 (with over 7000 appearing in his books), Martin Popoff has unofficially written more record reviews than anybody in the history of music writing across all genres.

Additionally, Martin has penned almost 90 books on hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock and record collecting.

He was Editor-In-Chief of the now retired Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Canada’s foremost metal publication for 14 years, and has also contributed to Revolver, Guitar World, Goldmine, Record Collector, bravewords.com, lollipop.com and hardradio.com, with many record label band bios and liner notes to his credit as well.

Additionally, Martin has been a regular contractor to Banger Films, having worked for two years as researcher on the award-winning documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, on the writing and research team for the 11-episode Metal Evolution and on the ten-episode Rock Icons, both for VH1 Classic.

Martin currently resides in Toronto and his latest book, coming in May 2020, and which we do talk about in this interview is from ECW and is called Anthem: Rush in the 70s.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of www.incompetech.com and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

1 thought on “Episode 132 – Lauding the Art of Music with Martin Popoff”

  1. I feel like there was a whole episode we could have explored at the end with him purchasing books and selling them with his signature.

    Great interview. It is interesting to see someone just writing about his passion and making money off it.

    If he was writing a chapter per song I can’t imagine him wanting to listen to the songs again once he finished the chapter. It really perverts the song from joy at the start of the project to the agony at the end.

    Looking forward to the next one.

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