Mojave Rain

Tommy Marth Interview

1. How and when did you decide to play the saxophone?

I’ve always been far too rebellious for my own good. My entire family is clogged toilet full of musicians and artists. My father is a guitarist and strings player, mom was a headlining lounge singer in the supposed glory days of Las Vegas, and my brother and sister have a rock band called The Big Friendly Corporation. When I was about 3 or 4 my father started teaching me to pay the drums. When I saw that he liked the thought of me playing I stopped. Then he tried teaching me guitar. I didn’t want to be like him in that way. Then one night he came home from work at the Tropicana Hotel playing for the Follies Bergiere Show and he gave me a cassette tape of Stan Getz Plays. That was all I needed to want to play saxophones.

2. What kind of music do you listen to; what fills your music player?

I have a pet peeve when it comes to people and music. I want to throw things at inanimate objects and pretend they scream when I hear people ask things like “so…um…do you like music?” Who the sh*t doesn’t like music? And it’s usually on a sh*tty date with someone you’re possibly related to that the question comes up. Another one that gets me is when people answer the first question with the inane reply “everything.” I don’t listen to everything. That’s just impossible. And a little bit of everything is a little bit more impossible! But I do listen to plenty of rock from every era, soul, funk, R&B, jazz, alt-country, Indie, electro, Africana, and too many more genres. I listen to a lot of different music, but not everything.

3. How did you end up with The Killers?

I’ve known most of the guys for years from different schools, local bands, even working together at golf courses and such. Mark has been one of my best friends for decades and when they wanted to incorporate horns into Sam’s Town I guess it seemed like a natural fit to have a friend do it instead of some old, out of touch session player with a f***ing beret, brown teeth and the relevance of a bodice on a jackalope.

4. What is one of your favorite moments when touring with them?

It was on tour, but we were off one day and I fell in love. I met my idea of the most perfect woman in the world, stayed awake three days straight with her watching sunrises and sunsets over the Mediterranean, making out and exploring. That may be my favorite “moment” ever.

5. How often do you practice the saxophone?

I used to practice up to 8 hours a day only because my parents wouldn’t make me do chores around the house so long as something came out of that sax. I hate to say it, but I don’t practice much anymore, especially while on tour; I’m already playing 10-20 hours a week and saxophones aren’t readily available, or it’s hard to find an isolated room to play in that will make it so the band doesn’t want to kill you due to bleeding cochleas.

6. What is your favorite song by The Killers?

I’m really not trying to be difficult here, but I don’t have a favorite song by The Killers. I don’t even have a favorite song, but if I did I might say “First Song (For Ruth)” by Stan Getz. It is a haunting and amazingly beautiful song he recorded just before dying and, I sh*t you not, there are plenty of times I have cried while listening to it. Sometimes I’ll play it in front of the ladies and shed a tear so they think I have a heart, but that’s my trade secret and I hope you exercise intellectual integrity and lie to people with your own song choice.

7. What was your favorite gig?

I don’t know that I have one, but I think filming the DVD in Royal Albert Hall has to be one of them. Another one may be the first show I saw The Killers do, and I think it was their first show ever, at some biohazard of a bar called The Junkyard. They opened for my friend’s band called Music for Deaf Girls and I remember thinking “if Brandon would ditch the silly eye makeup they might have a chance to do big things.” I am not a great judge of much.

8. What is it like to perform for hundreds of thousands of people?

Far less terrifying than performing in front of 20 people. It is a huge rush, without a doubt, but it is nearly impossible to feel that connection with an audience like you do when you can hear people breathing between songs or pauses. In front of that many people I feel much more comfortable.

9. Everybody has an idol, who is yours?

Lorenzo Valla or Richard Saunders. Look them up and thank me later.

10. When you aren’t touring, what do you like to do?

Work. I went back to running nightclubs after Day and Age mostly because I love it. And in my extra time I try to continue writing terrible works of fiction and creative non-fiction. I probably should have mentioned that I was a writer for a while before The Killers. I also run a bar/lounge inside The Mirage Hotel called King Ink. It’s a tattoo parlor you can get drunk in. And Mario Barth, who is a living legend in the tattoo world, owns the place. I’ve been lucky to find ways to make a living doing what I love.

11. What are your plans while The Killers are on break?

I already took a few weeks off after the tour and then set off back to work. I LOVE being lazy. Some people have erotic dreams with lithe partners and sundry products or positions to whet their proverbial whistles. I dream of being lazy. But I also don’t have respect for myself when I’m not contributing somehow towards my own death. So I work in any way I can.

12. We know you have mastered the saxophone, but do you play any other instruments?

Believe it or not, I am not going to make a lewd comment here! I can also play some flute, clarinet, some piano, and I can pluck a harp pretty well, but I wouldn’t boast and say I knew what I was doing, exactly.

13. The Day and Age tour took you all over the world, where would you most like to visit again?

Buenos Aires, most of South America, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Rome, NOT Romania, NOT United Arab Emirates, but definitely Madrid, Sevilla and Athens. And Lisbon. Oooooohhhh Cape Town, too. Nowhere in Kansas. Chicago and New York and San Francisco. The Flying J on the New Jersey turnpike…and that’s probably a good list to start with.