Martin Rossiter was the Welsh born singer with Gene, who pretty much soundtracked my life in the 1990s.

When on the 16th December at The Astoria in London Gene played their final show after having recorded seven albums together, it wasn't just like your favourite band ending. It was like the death of your favourite friend.
Gene were Martin Rossiter (vocals), Steve Mason (lead/rhythm guitar), Kev Miles (bass) and Matt James (drums).

Originally on the Costermonger label, they released their debut single, 'For The Dead' in 1994, which sold out instantly, before signing to Polydor. In March 1997 they had become so popular they had both headlined and sold out the Royal Albert Hall. Britpop helped them along but were never part of that sad movement of England's flag waving. Their 2001 last album, ‘Libertine’, was released on their own label, Sub Rosa Records.

Martin now teaches, plays with a local band in Brighton where he lives entitled Call Me Jolene, and is about to release his debut solo album, ‘The Defenestration of St. Martin’, via PledgeMusic which achieved its full amount in a day. Along with the album comes a covers EP and a live download of his first ever solo show.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to him about ‘The Defenestration of St. Martin’.

PB: When Gene finally finished in 2004, it was on a high with the farewell gig at the London Astoria. Did you all think it was to better to end that way then rather than to just plod along, and at that stage did you think you had done all you could have done and well?

MR: What a lot of people don't realise about the music industry is that it doesn't pay well. There is an assumption that if you've waggled your arse on TV more than twice then you are considering buying a second home on Santorini. The dull truth is we ran out of money and if I was to commit to making another record I would have also committed myself to not being able to pay my rent. I took the decision and have no regrets.

PB: Are you still in touch with the other members of Gene?

MR: No, but I wish them little ill.

PB: You are a teacher now. How did that come about?

MR: What else was I to do. I have few qualifications and fewer talents.

PB: Do you or have you ever had any attitude from your students for having been a pop star in the past?

MR: None whatsoever. I don't walk into the room in my own moth eaten Gene T-shirts saying, "I was in a group in the olden days. Please love me". To be frank a lot of them were born after 'For The Dead' was released. They don't really care and nor should they.

PB: You enjoyed the attention. Did you miss it?

MR: Why do you think I'm back?

PB: In between Gene and going solo, other then Call Me Jolene, did you write and perform at all? How also did Call Me Jolene come about?

MR: I did the occasional under the radar show to strays and waifs. Call Me Jolene was a happy accident, I was merely helping some friends out and have never left.

PB: You have now started a solo career. You road tested the songs first for a reaction. Were any rejected for not being up to scratch?

MR: No, not at all. It's very dangerous to judge songs from people's reactions. I am making this record and if it lives or dies it will be utterly down to me and no one else. I played the shows because I wanted people to hear the songs. Some songs take longer to worm their way into hearts so to judge on one show might cut some down before they've reached their prime.

I waste nothing.

PB: You have now recorded a new solo album. Do you have more material written?

MR: There are no other songs written but I'm feeling the urge again.

PB: You must be very pleased with the reaction on PledgeMusic. You got £500 for the coat that you wore on Gene's only 'Top of the Pops' appearance in 1996. Were you surprised it went so quickly?

MR: I am of course delighted but I still want more, the songs need to be heard. After writing I've become a fan of those songs and like any other music I love, I want it to be loved from Bogota to Bodmin Moor.
I feel I have to point out that the coat came with original artwork, tickets to the party, CD, vinyl, T-shirts and so the list goes on. So in fact the coat was sold for a thrupenny bit.

PB: You are still in Brighton. Have songs such as 'Drop Anchor' been influenced by the area?

MR: I am still in Brighton and still love it dearly but I'd have to be honest, rare I know, and say it has had little or no impact on the songs. Hull however...

PB: Do you have any plans for remastered or expanded versions of the Gene albums and whom owes the rights now?

MR: Someone somewhere is probably planning to exhume that particular corpse and scrape the bones for marrow.

PB: What are your future plans? Are you planning to go onwards and upwards?

MR: Sideways if history has anything to do with it.

PB: Thank you.

Martin Rossiter's new single 'Drop Anchor’ can be streamed at More information about 'The Defenestration of St Martin' can be found at

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