"For Distant Viewing” is the new album from Atlanta-based band Little Tybee. (Some members originally hale from the Georgia coast, hence their name.) The sextet has earned rave reviews since their 2009 debut, but one member tends to attract extra attention – the band’s guitarist Josh Martin, who is known for a signature technique.
Eddie Van Halen’s old trick of using both hands on the neck instead of plucking strings with the right hand – what guitarists call “tapping” – may be commonplace today, but not in a lot of bands that sound like Little Tybee. “A progressive, almost folkish…acoustic singer-songwriter kind of band,” is how Martin describes his group.
Martin plays a custom-built eight-string guitar, an instrument with two extra low strings, best known as a staple of metal and hardcore music. In fact, it was introduced to him by Tosin Abasi, from the band Animals as Leaders. “You can hit a low note on an eight-string and, like, resonate someone’s bowels,” Martin remembers Abasi saying.
Martin himself has roots in metal and progressive rock but has developed a signature style over the years as he rejected typical rock guitar conventions, owing much of his development to the global community of guitarists who share videos online.
“I was like scouring YouTube for different styles,” Martin recalls. “There are so many things going on all over the world that are so interesting and I was like, why would a guy have to alternate pick a lead line rather than use his fingers and play, like, a flamenco style?”
Virtuosic players like Martin have a tendency to dominate the sound of their bands. But as he says, Little Tybee is more of a singer-songwriter group. Each song at its core is built around lyrics and melody by lead singer Brock Scott.
“When you have a song structure and its presented to you, you are like, okay I can hear this I know the like sentiment he is trying to convey,” Martin says of the songwriting process with Scott. “So, I am going to try to lend myself as a tool…helping convey that sentiment and not necessarily completely drastically alter it. But at the same time I want to be myself, and convey what I want this song to represent.”