Chuck Martin is a man with the burning passion of 10 musicians and the talent of 3. Playing guitar, singing and writing songs for over 15 years and now on the cusp of releasing album number 6 proves that Chuck is a true artist in every sense of the word.
Throughout Chucks career he’s been a member of five different bands but found his individuality in each and every one no matter the genre. The longevity of Chuck’s career is a testament to his talent but also his character; resilient, determined, and driven by an inner force that seeks to immerse itself in the soul of a creative individual like no other. As Mr. Martin prepares to deliver his new album “Dragonfly” at the end of January, I wanted to sit down and get to know the Gainesville native who’s done everything from psychedelic rock to folk music to jazz.
“Why Dragonfly? I was bitten by a dragonfly last summer. They are in me now and told me to call my new album Dragonfly. – Chuck Martin”
He describes his 12 track album as a blend of blues, rock, country and other genres he’s had the opportunity of developing throughout his career.
Each track has a story that goes beyond the title, “Always Kiss Goodnight” is an ode to Chuck’s wife who nursed him back to health after an injury left him immobile for a period. “Poor Boy” tells the story of the young and loveless Mr. Martin, before Amy and maybe even before music became such a big part of his life. “Little Red Wagon”, the final track is fitting as it’s a road trip though Chuck’s home state of Florida in the form of smooth rock inspired by Muddy Waters (watch the movie Cadillac Records and you’ll see how important he was).
Without further ado, this is what Chuck had to say for himself when he gave me the chance to get into his head a bit.
What’s the most important thing to you when creating a song from scratch? The instrumentation? The lyrics? The aura in the room?
Songs are born in different ways. My favorite is when I have no prior inclination or idea for the song. Just strumming some chord and boom! Finished song comes pouring out. “Charlie Tomatoes,” the first song on my “Dragonfly” album was like that.
How do you maintain your individuality when lending yourself to so many groups?
I show you a piece of my heart in every performance regardless of the act, venue, size of crowd. This is what I believe delights us about artists – they can show us their hearts.
Favorite snack in the studio?
Typically my wife, Amy Lynn, packs me a lunch. But I recorded my latest album, Dragonfly, at Skylab Studios in Gainesville, FL, and one of the engineers brought in homemade Thai food a couple of times a week. We made delicious music.
Most valuable lesson learned throughout your music career?
Keep exploring what’s inside me, and practice my crafts, so that I can bring what’s inside out.
How did your musical journey begin?
I was born an entertainer. It’s in my genes. Goes back 5 generations on my mom’s side. I learned guitar at about age 11 so that I could perform for people. Also it seemed like a good way to meet girls.
Being that you’ve been doing this so long, you’ve seen a lot of changes in the music industry, how do you feel about the current state of music?
Flummoxed? Yes, independent artists have more opportunities than ever to produce and distribute music. But there are no roadmaps, and it ain’t cheap.
Do you have any rituals before shows? Lucky boxers? Must have meal?
While I am driving to the show, I listen to Marvin Gaye’s, “Got to Give it Up.” Marvin gets a shout-out in the song “Likes Me” from my Dragonfly album.
What’s your advice to young artists just starting out looking gain some attention and hone their talent?
You gotta get out there. The more you perform the better your act will be, and the more likely you will start making people notice. Practice your instrument, and if you are a singer, work on your vocal technique just like a guitarist works on technique.
Have you ever had to tell someone asking you for musical advice that they were terrible? How’d that go? If not, have you ever been blown away to the point you want to make music with a newcomer?
I discovered a new guitar and bass talent named Ben Rophie. I started a rock/R&B power trio called The Tri Hards just to play music with him. We also have a Beatles tribute band called The Threetles. That’s right. We’re a trio. Ben plays bass on two of the tracks on my Dragonfly album.
Why do you do this? What drives you to keep pushing?
I need to be on a stage. There. I said it! But also, in agreement with my advise to others, I practice my craft both guitar and vocals, and I keep getting better. So I don’t know how deep it goes, but I want to find out. Also, I’m a good songwriting, and I have stories to tell. And finally I believe if you can make art, you’d be a fool not to.