Meet Martin Smith - find out what inspires him to sing, what his phobia is...and his surprise favourite film.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER YOUR GIFTS FOR SINGING, PLAYING MUSIC AND SONGWRITING?
I think about the age of 12. We had joined a new church and there was no youth group leader and no musician and my dad said to me: "Right I’m running the youth group now – you need to play the songs. So can you just learn the guitar this week? Cos you’re playing Sunday."
So I got myself a ‘teach yourself’ chord book and I think I had about two chords down for the Sunday and I remember the song we did was [breaks into singing & clapping] I Will Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving In My Heart and that was the only thing I could play. And that was it, that was the beginning. I thought "I quite like this!".
WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO DUET WITH?
It would be great to do a duet with Adele, wouldn’t it? And Emeli Sande.
WHAT HAS BEING A DAD TO A LARGE BROOD TAUGHT YOU? [MARTIN HAS 6 CHILDREN]
Wow – it’s very humbling! You never feel like you’re doing a great job! And so you get to bed at night and you’re like "Wow! This is difficult, isn’t it?".
But there’s a lot of joy. I would say that would be my main thing – there’s a lot of joy in it. And it’s kept us - as a family - very fun.
HOW DID YOU FIRST MEET YOUR WIFE ANNA?
I met her when she was 16 on a youth group weekend away. But nothing really happened for a few years…and then it all happened. And we’ve been married 19 years this summer.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD THAT YOU'VE BEEN TO?
I think different answers for different reasons. I mean I love Sydney because I’ve got loads of friends there and of course it’s such a beautiful city with the water and everything. Rome is beautiful; it’s very romantic there. I love New York as well. New York’s amazing...[pauses and laughs]...the best’s Brighton of course! [Martin lives in Brighton with his family and attends St Peter's - a church plant of Holy Trinity Brompton]
IF YOU COULD TAKE ONE FILM, ONE ALBUM AND ONE BOOK (NOT THE BIBLE) TO A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
One film? Dumb & Dumber. That’s our favourite film of ALL time. It’s just brilliant. Favourite book would be Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I love that book. And my favourite record of all time would probably be….wow…that’s hard to choose. ProbablyOK Computer by Radiohead.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOBIAS?
Yeah, I don’t like heights. I get a bit weird. Like, if I’m up on a mountain or a bridge I don’t really like that.
SO WHEN YOU'VE BEEN TO SYDNEY HAVE YOU DONE THAT WALK OVER THE TOP OF THE HARBOUR BRIDGE?
No! For obvious reasons I’ve not gone there! It’s like if I’m out with my kids and we’re somewhere up high I’m a little bit stressy and then I’m really happy when we get in the car.
SO THIS IS WHAT I'VE DONE - I RUN A CHURCH GROUP AND I'VE ASKED THEM IF THEY HAD ANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU. MY FRIEND CLAIRE IS KICKING US OFF WITH A NICE INAPPROPRIATE ONE:
DID GIRLS FANCY YOU MORE WHEN YOU GOT FAMOUS? [CLAIRE, LONDON]
I don’t know! I was married! So I never had the chance to find out! [blushes] I’ve gone red now!
WHICH ONE OF YOUR SONGS MEANS THE MOST TO YOU? [KATIE, LONDON]
I think probably two songs. One called Obsession which is an old song. I wrote it when I was in hospital after I had a car crash so that means a lot.
Probably History Maker because I saw it sort of switch a lot of lights on in people’s lives. A generation across the world. I think that will always be great memories.
AND OBVIOUSLY HISTORY MAKER DID THE BEST IN TERMS OF COMMERCIAL SUCCESS AND GETTING THE GOSPEL MESSAGE TO A WIDER, SECULAR AUDIENCE?
Yeah, although it was after the band ended so it was a bit funny.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO A DANCE-THEMED ALBUM? [SEAN, SURREY]
[Laughs] Ha! It’s not really a “dance-themed album” but I think the heart behind it is getting the Church dancing again. We’ve been through these cycles of being a bit crazy when we’re younger and dancing around the church and a lot of freedom. Then into everything becoming a bit more professional and a bit more sort of ‘it’s got to appeal to people outside the Church’. So, let’s just make this a bit cooler.
ARE YOU A DANCER YOURSELF?
No, I’m terrible! My wife dances a bit.
I think that’s the heart of it: reminding everybody that actually it’s the foolish things that shame the wise. It’s the fun and the freedom – that’s what’s great about Church. We mustn’t forget it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST MOTIVATOR OR INSPIRATION FOR DOING WHAT YOU DO? [JONATHAN, CHICAGO]
I think that when you see God meet people, I think that’s the greatest thing you can ever see while you’re living on the planet. Someone’s life gets changed by God meeting them. And that’s like a holy addiction really – once you’ve seen that you just want to see that more and more and more. That’s why you write music, that’s why you play live – because you get the chance to see that happening. I say often, when you’re on stage and looking out at a crowd it’s like sometimes you see the light switch on in people’s eyes. It’s like “Oh, I suddenly get what this is about!”.
It might be a line on the screen or something someone says – suddenly the penny drops and it starts a big journey for them in their own life. I guess millions of decisions are made in that moment we might never know about.