Buoyed by the Grammy Award-winning success of his 2009 album "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo," Steve Martin ready to record another one.
Martin tells Billboard.com that he and his touring group, the Steep Canyon Rangers, are planning to hit the studio in August with producer Tony Trischka, with a tentative early 2011 release. "I have most of the songs," Martin reports. "I have 11 songs, and I think we need 12 or 13 -- and I'm very happy with them." He says the new album will be "a little more bluegrassy" than "The Crow" and that he's expecting "to economize on it a little bit," with fewer guests and remote recording sessions than its predecessor.
The album will once again be comprised of all original material, Martin confirms. "There's no point for me not to do orginal compositions," he says. "What do I do -- cover somebody else's song? That's ricidulous. They could get a better singer to do it. The only contribution I cold make, really, is in the writing. And sometimes I think I'm at the limit, 'I can't write another song!,' and then I go on vacation and pick up the banjo and write two songs."
Martin, who starts a new tour April 19 in Detroit and plays the Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 11, has already started previewing some of the new material at his live dates. "Jubilation Day," which he says is a possible title track for the album, is "about what else -- a break-up." Other fresh songs include "Ignition," "Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back" and an instrumental called "Hide Behind a Rock." He hopes to record a live take of "The Atheist Song," "a gospel tune for atheists," to include on the album.
Meanwhile, Martin remains surprised and pleased with the success of "The Crow," which spent 31 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart (it's still at No. 4) and, in addition to the Grammy also picked up two IBMA trophies. Martin is also featured on the "Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert CD, DVD and PBS broadcast.
"I couldn't be happier," says Martin, who between tour dates is flying back to Vancouver where he's filming "The Big Year," an adaptation of Mark Obmascik's book about bird watching, with Jack Black and Owen Wilson. "To go from my living room saying, 'I think I'll do an album' to winning a Grammy is very exciting. And you have to remember it's a banjo record, so it's a little bit puzzling. I don't think it's selling on my name at this point; I think it's selling on the music...which makes me proudest of all. I deeply believe in this music and the musicians. They've been very kind and they seem appreciative that the music is...reaching an audience that the bluegrass world doesn't usually reach."