When music was about real sounds and acoustics, live shows, real feelings penned down on paper, that was the era of legends. Eric Martin is one such legend, belonging to the age of classics. Many of us have grown up listening to his songs. ‘To Be With You’ sung with his hard-rock band Mr. Big is probably one of his most famous songs.
An intimate interaction with such a legendary artist was an exciting experience. Eric Martin, with his rumbling voice and rock star swag proves that Rock is as bold and golden as it was in its yesteryears.
I wrote a lot of mediocre songs before I had hits or strong songs, and I played crappy gigs those days but I didn’t complain, I was building a fan base… I wasn’t supposed to make it when I was younger. I always said it was God’s test.”
Music was inculcated in Eric from his teen years. “I was handed my first guitar when I was 14. A KAY acoustic guitar, a Tommy Tedesco book on how to play in 7 easy lessons and some records by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles,” says the 80’s Rock star on his foray into music. With musicians for parents, Eric was always supported and encouraged in his endeavours with respect to music. He says, “They caught me when I fell and were so happy with my little successes. They were so proud when I had my songs on the radio! My mother used to call the local radio station and request my song ‘To be with you’. My father ran my website for years and was the president of the ‘Eric Martin’s army fan club’.”
While Eric learned and was steadily building his fan base, his manager who also handled the band JOURNEY, pushed him to watch shows and spend time with them. According to Eric it eventually made him a better musician and songwriter. The world renowned songwriter today says, “I wrote a lot of mediocre songs before I had hits or strong songs, and I played crappy gigs those days but I didn’t complain, I was building a fan base… I wasn’t supposed to make it when I was younger. I always said it was God’s test.”
Put the cigarettes and whiskey down, they’re not your friends. Get some vocal lessons with a great teacher. Learn about stamina, breathing and not ripping your throat out by singing improperly. Sleep is your key to survival, nothing less than 8 hours or you’re going to suffer a bit, and try not to talk until the curtain falls.”
When you’re bursting with talent and passion, like Eric was when he was young, it can get hard. Because one is a dreamer and you want things to happen quickly, and when it doesn’t you get frustrated. Such was the case with Eric as well, until one day it hit him. He explains, “Then something clicked in my head. I really wasn’t ready and I certainly wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t interested in anything else except music … hmm, maybe, girls and getting out of my small town!” So, he studied music life 101. He listened to other artists and watched them perform on stage. American artists from his hometown of San Francisco like Journey, Huey Lewis & The News and Eddie Money, artists who not only had confidence onstage, but were also great songwriters.
Over the years Eric has grown and collaborated with many bands like Mr. Big (band reunited), Tak Matsumoto Group, while also releasing several solo albums and doing tours. He has been active since 1978 and wishes to make another solo album soon, saying, “The last one was years ago. I need to get some things off of my chest and on paper.” Recently Eric teamed up with a melodic Heavy metal rock Opera from Germany called AVANTASIA, a band he has recorded with as well. He had been touring with them for the last 4 months all over the world before coming to India to do his acoustic solo tour. As part of the tour, Eric played in Bangalore’s Humming Tree, and will also be performing in Imphal, Guwahati and Shillong.
With so much time spent touring, Eric feels bad about missing out on his 12 year old twin sons’ lives. But, they are understanding of him being on the road to support the family and keep his dream alive. Eric is hopeful that someday they too will pick up the guitar, strum along and maybe even join him on the road for a couple of months.
Musically Eric was inspired by bands from Motown and Stax/Volt as a child, while being influenced by Temptations, The Four Tops and Otis Redding, to name a few. When he got older he was drawn to confident singers like Paul Rogers from FREE/ Bad Company, John Fogerty from Credence Clearwater Revival, Mark Farner from Grand Funk, Steve Marriot from Humble Pie, and Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones.
Music to him, he says is, “What sooths the savage beast…I’m the beast.” Having been in the music industry for many years he knowledgeably explains its evolution, “Always comes back around full circle… the new sound is the old sound.”
For young musicians and vocalists out there pursuing their passion diligently, Eric Martin’s advice to you: “Put the cigarettes and whiskey down, they’re not your friends. Get some vocal lessons with a great teacher. Learn about stamina, breathing and not ripping your throat out by singing improperly. Sleep is your key to survival, nothing less than 8 hours or you’re going to suffer a bit, and try not to talk until the curtain falls.”
As a parting remark, this humble and honest musician says, “Have fun, don’t stress about making it … when you least expect it, it will come, then pack, go, don’t look back… maybe I’ll see you on the road!”