20 Questions: Martin Sexton

He sold 15,000 copies of his cassette-only debut, got signed to a major label, made his own independent, and then got his songs featured on the likes of Scrubs and Parenthood. He's never done anything the easy way, and when he sits down for PopMatters' 20 Questions, he winds up revealing so much more . . .

Martin Sexton is never one to take the easy route.

When the self-taught guitar player and singer Sexton moved to Boston in 1988 to pursue his young singer-songwriter dreams, his soulful and impassioned singing helped him move through the coffee-shop ranks. Before long, a series of opening gigs helped him sell copies of his cassette-only debut album In the Journey -- an astonishing 15,000 copies, to be exact. Slowly, he gained more and more attention from larger media sources, and even went as far as to sign with Atlantic Records in the late '90s.

Nowadays, Sexton runs his own record label: Kitchen Table Records. Through KTR, he's not only been able to maintain his ever-growing fanbase, but also managed to get his songs placed on shows like Scrubs, Parenthood, and Brotherhood. The breezy nature of his latest EP, Falls Like Rain, seems to offset the fact the politically-charged nature of the disc, proving that at 46 years old, he's just as passionate as ever about his music.

Sitting down with PopMatters, Sexton took out some time to answer our 20 Questions, here telling us of the time he stole microphones from a church for his first band, why he'd like to dine with Ron Paul, and how he finds a kinship in Paul Bunyan . . .

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

The last scene of Saving Private Ryan. An elderly Private Ryan to Captain Miller's grave: "Every day, I think about what you said to me on that bridge. I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."

2. The fictional character most like you?

Paul Bunyan.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Abbey Road.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars, I guess.

5. Your ideal brain food?

The Adirondack Mountains.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

The success I've had as an independent artist . . . because everything I have I worked hard for without the backing of major corporations.

7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?

For inspiring people to chase their dreams.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Jeff Buckley, Peter Frampton, Zeppelin, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?


10. Your hidden talents . . . ?

People tell me I do a killer Jack Nicholson.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

The music teacher at my high school didn't give me any advice, though she gave me her keys to sneak into the music room to play piano at lunchtime.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Microphones. At 16, I stole them from the Catholic church (where my family belonged), along with some alter wine. Those mics were well used in my first band. I've since made amends.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?

Levi's, but lately Diesel seem to be working.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Dr. Ron Paul. A politician who's delivered 5,000 babies and wants to follow the rules our founding fathers have set out for us is a guy I'd like to have dinner with.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

White Lake, Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, NY -- The Yazgur Farm -- August 17th, 1969 . . . to see Hendrix perform the National Anthem.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?

None of the above. Head to the North Woods.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?

For me it's coffee. Good coffee and home-cooking on the road.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

My heart lives in the Adirondack Mountains, northern NY State.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Stop acting like a king and lessen you and your government's power over me.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

I'm working the Fall Like Rain record -- touring and all that includes press, personal appearances at radio, TV, and such.

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