Nathan (left) no doubt recalling the Old Trafford pens.

Nathan (left) no doubt recalling the Old Trafford pens.

Martha are a pop-punk foursome who hail from the sublimely named Pity Me, a village just outside of Durham. They’re also quite simply bloody brilliant with a welter of open-chord anthems to love and anarchy. Check out the song below because you may have discovered your new favourite band.
After a storming set last weekend at Indietracks Festival – a slice of indiepop heaven set in the Derbyshire countryside – we caught up with drummer Nathan Stephens-Griffin to discuss his other love football. Or more specifically all things Mackem.

DC: Why Sunderland?

Nathan: I’m from Durham but the main reason is because it’s who my dad supports. I wasn’t a Sunderland fan as a kid. I was a bit of a glory-supporter. My first kit was a Liverpool one that my grandma got me around 1991 at just about the end of their heyday. So there’s pictures of me as a kid in a Liverpool kit which is weird.
Then I stopped liking football when I was around 11 and got into music. When I was 18 I realised I could be a progressive person and still like football and Sunderland was who the family supported so it wasn’t really a choice.

DC: Did you go with your dad?

Nathan: I did. To quite a few at Roker Park. My dad’s a season ticket holder. I once saw Michael Owen score a hat-trick against us in a friendly where we got stuffed.

DC: The Wedding Present famously named an album after David Gedge’s favourite player George Best. If Martha did likewise who would adorn the album cover?

Nathan: The name that springs to mind is Lee Cattermole just because we have a semi-jokey, semi-sincere love of him. He’s so old-fashioned and robust in his challenges. I was really worried when they were going to sell him to Stoke.
But of all-time – and I shouldn’t say this because he’s a Geordie – but I’m going to have to go with Gazza. Just because of England.

DC: What’s your best ever experience as a Mackem?

Nathan: Well there’s not been that many. The past few seasons it’s just been about escaping relegation but what was amazing was beating Man United in the League Cup semi in 2014 on penalties. I was at the home game and actually went with Ross from the Futureheads who is a huge United fan. He was in the Sunderland end and we won 2-1. Winning that was pretty incredible.

DC: What’s been the worst?

Nathan: Ah man. I don’t want to get too political but Di Canio. As a decent human being and someone who’s been involved in anti-fascism and anti-racism when they offered him the job my heart broke. I was honestly not a Sunderland fan for a while and was really, really gutted about that. More so than all the shit football we’ve played. It was disappointing how some sections of the fans responded as well. There has to be a line somewhere. The Durham Mining Institute took their banners out of the Stadium of Light when it first happened and I’d rather be with the unions than the capitalists and mercenaries.

DC: If you were Dick Advocaat which one player would you definitely move on this summer?

Nathan: Adam Johnson. For obvious reasons. If it’s purely football then there’s a lot of deadwood in our squad. There’s a lot who have put a shift in over the years but their time has come. We really need a new back two and I feel harsh saying that because O’Shea and Brown have been so good through the years and put in a service.
We need to get rid of Fletcher too I think.

DC: Who would your half-realistic, half-dream signing be for this summer?

Nathan: We definitely need to sort out the defence. We’ve signed a few but we never sign anyone I’ve heard of anymore – except Defoe which hasn’t exactly been a fairy story bar his goal against Newcastle – but the priority is defence. Pants has been great in goal so that’s sorted so if we can shore up the defence we can build from there.

DC: What’s your expectations for this season?

Nathan: At the minute I’m not optimistic. We’ve got Lee Congleton as our Director of Football and I don’t really know what he’s doing or if there’s a barrier there. We have to revitalise things a bit. So a season free of relegation worries by February so we can enjoy the football would be good.

DC: What’s your thoughts on Dick Advocaat staying?

Nathan: He did a decent job in those games but it’s a different thing to start a season. They keep thinking very short-term and maybe it’s the wrong decision. He could have retired and kept the perfect record while we should have gone for someone with a long-term eye to stabilizing us.