dorothy gifts from the holy ghost

Dorothy on how faith and spirituality inspired third album ‘Gifts From The Holy Ghost’—interview

Three years ago, Dorothy’s eponymous frontwoman had found herself drawn to prayer by the most desperate of situations. The band’s guitar tech had overdosed on their tour bus and, when Dorothy Martin found him, lay mere inches from death. She instinctively began praying for his survival, eventually forming a prayer circle near his body with the rest of the crew. Amazingly, despite being declared legally dead, their guitar tech came back to life. 

Having witnessed this, and having found clarity in getting sober, Martin felt reborn. She’s kept spirituality in her life ever since, and it inspires the sense of blazing triumph to be found within her band’s third album, Gifts From The Holy Ghost. Despite its towering, swaggering sound that evokes memories of the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll, it refutes its genre’s forebears’ taste for drink and drugs, instead preaching healing and growth. If anyone can find the inspiration to make that happen for themselves as Martin has herself, as far as she’s concerned, her work is done. 

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How and when did you start laying the groundwork for your new album, Gifts From The Holy Ghost? 

I wrote songs for about two years for this album; I just started writing with my friends like Keith Wallen after we went on tour with Breaking Benjamin. He was like, “I’d like to work together.” So we spent a lot of time meeting up and writing songs. Then, as time progressed, I either reached out to or got contacted by friends like Trevor Lukather and Scott Stevens, and we just got in the studio and kept working. There’re a lot of really talented people that contributed to this album.

You’ve said that what you want to do with this record is impart inspiring messages to people while having fun and rocking out. How have you tried to do that? 

Mainly through the lyrics. If I could plant a lyric here and there that spoke to someone, and provided something that they needed to hear, then I would do that, without overthinking it or overdoing it. And I think we accomplished that. There’s a little bit of inspiration sprinkled throughout the album. [Fans can take] whatever they need; if it sticks to them, that’s between them [and] the song. Or they can at least just listen and enjoy the album, and forget about their problems, maybe for an hour, or through coming to a show and enjoying themselves — whatever brings them joy. 

There was a bit of a radical spiritual awakening for you going on in the background of this album. How did that shape what the album came to be?

I think my spiritual awakening was a few years in the making. It really started when I realized I had to try to get sober years ago; that was part of the whole awakening. When you stop putting drugs and alcohol in your body, you clear up, and your mind is clear, and you start to see things differently. I’m in a 12-step program, and they encourage having conscious contact with your higher power, which I call God. I’ve seen some miraculous things — I’ve seen someone who died from a heroin overdose be revived and resurrected, and it really changed me. I live my life differently now. And so, because that’s part of my life, it naturally found its way into my music.

How else do you feel having spirituality in your life benefits you?

It’s made me a better person, I think. At least, I’m living differently, where I look at how I can be of service to other people instead of what I can get from them, or get out of them. Instead of having transactional relationships, I’m having faith- and love- and service-based relationships. It’s a much better way to live, for sure. 

What makes Gifts From The Holy Ghost distinct from the other records in your band’s discography?

I was much more hands-on in the production of my vocals, and there were a lot more people involved contributing to the songwriting, as opposed to just writing everything with a producer. You know, I took songs from Audra Mae and Chris Trainor and Scott Stevens, and then I carefully comped my vocals with Joseph McQueen. And I had a vision for that — the imagery and the videos and the photography. I was incredibly hands-on with this album.

Classic rock is roaring back into life right now, and your band have been touted as one of the names to watch in what’s being described as the new wave of classic rock. What do you make of the resurgence? 

I think it’s great. We’re influenced by the music we listen to, and we grew up listening to these old vinyl records, or at least I did, and I know Greta Van Fleet did. I wanted to put out music that sounded fresh and modern, but with that influence, and there’re a lot of different types of rock influencing this album.

Why do you think it might have come about? 

I think it makes you feel [things]. I think it feels organic, and it feels good to listen to. The deeper we go with technology, the more of the soul we lose in all things, and we want something really tangible and organic, which is full of emotion and feeling. Older music of all genres had that warmth. I think that’s important to keep and save.

What do you hope this album will do for you in terms of your career trajectory? What do you hope to accomplish? 

I hope that the album speaks to a lot of people and inspires them and uplifts them, helps them heal in some way. Of course, it’d be great to pack out a stadium and win awards and all that. But none of that matters. I wanted to make an album full of substance. I want the fans to get something really great out of it. And they do — they write us letters, they give us cards, they give us photo albums. You know how much something changed their life. To me, that’s more precious than winning an award. I actually received a full photo album full of letters a few days ago, and everyone wrote down their Instagram name. It was so beautiful. They’re like you: They’re very vulnerable, and they open up to you, and they tell you what they struggled with and how our music helped them.

Dorothy’s Gifts From The Holy Ghost is out now. Catch a livestream of the band performing at Chicago’s House of Blues, exclusively on Veeps.