Mario Madness

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You're in for a treat, ladies and gentlemen!

Chicks With Guns Magazine's very own staff writer, Mario R. Martin, spills his guts. (He had quite the career before making millions of dollars writing for us). In addition to the interview, he's been hard at work for May's edition of "The Death of Modern Rock."

In a stunningly beautiful fight to the death, Oasis and Echo & the Bunnymen go head to head.

Both articles are included below... enjoy!
Celebrity publicist, Mario Martin has been around the block and back, but never fails to ask for more. Hyperactive as he is creative, Mario spends his time as a freelance writer, professional press-acquirer, and entrepreneur. An avid music lover, Mario lives/breathes/bleeds music.

Mario got his start in the music biz co-hosting a college radio show that broke emerging Milwaukee bands, and featured national touring acts. His life changed after scoring a backstage interview with Alt-Punks, Zebrahead. From that moment on, Mario took his music biz career to the next level, becoming a music writer for local Milwaukee and national publications. After establishing his writing career, Mario decided to step his game up, landing a job in promotion and publicity at major label, EMI.

While at EMI, Mario worked with the Narada Label Group, scoring national press with ease for big names, and breaking up-and-coming artists on the local and national press circuit. Then, without warning, EMI closed down Narada Records' Milwaukee office and absorbed all operations into the New York offices. Unscathed, Mario headed to sunny Los Angeles, scoring a gig as head publicist for an Indie Rock publicity firm, working with acts like The Appearance, Veruca Salt, and L.A.'s best outdoor concert festival, Topanga Days. After a profile in Celebrity Access, Mario was tapped by GoTV Networks to head their publicity department.

Currently at GoTV, Mario has helped successfully launch ES Musica, the first originally programmed Latin music channel for GoTV, while continuing efforts in the hip hop world with parnerships with Guerilla Union (Rock The Bells, Paid Dues, Cypress Hill's Smoke Out, etc.) and for the first time, sponsoring a showcase at SXSW for rock channel “Altitude.”

CWG: One of your most famous projects (and most successful) was a then little-known imprint of EMI. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I worked for the Narada Label Group which incorporated Narada Records, Narada Jazz, Narada World, Shakti Records, Back Porch Records, Luaka Bop Records (owned by Talking Head David Byrne) and Real World Records (owned by Peter Gabriel).

Narada was such a niche label (as were the others as well) that I quickly learned about the markets. Radio and publicity were so different, but I was becoming a double threat since I was doing both. Eventually, by myself for an entire label’s roster. Anyway, Narada taught me about different genres of music that I didn’t listen to personally. It gave me a better perspective on the broad senses of music and consumer markets.

It was one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for. In addition, it afforded me the ability to learn the genres, and pull out what I personally liked, or maybe disliked, and use it to benefit the artists I was representing. Granted, I wasn’t also spot on, but I was learning. That was a really great time in my life.

CWG: Is it true that one of the artists signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, thanks to your efforts, out-sold Peter Gabriel on his own tour?

Yup. Peter Gabriel signed Uzbeki singer Sevara Nazarkhan to his Real World label. They toured in the UK with some enthusiasm, but in the US, since I had the set up, product and determination, Sevara was getting full page spreads in each market, while Gabriel was only a side bar. Bad ass!
Check her out - Sevara Nazarkhan

CWG: One night at the Roosevelt Hotel bar on Hollywood Boulevard, you told our editor the story of how you landed a job at EMI. Can you tell our readers that story?

Absolutely. I was working publicity and marketing for an industrial manufacturer. I was at a trade show in Houston, TX for the company, and then 9/11 happened. I returned to Milwaukee and within a month I was permanently laid off due to the drop off rate in industry. I wasn’t the only one. About half the company was let go. Regardless, this lay off provided me the severance and time to pursue music more aggressively.

I became very familiar with all the labels in my area. I thought of Century in Chicago, and so forth. But then I came across Narada Records, right in my backyard in Milwaukee. Soon there after, I came across an ad in the Sunday newspaper that Narada was looking for a publicist. So I responded. I remember thinking it would be great to stay in my hometown and do music, but I was also just trying to find work in a horrible job market, so I didn’t have the highest hopes. But eventually I got a call and an interview. It went really well. The problem was that the music industry was undergoing its own poor market as well. I was told that Virgin/EMI had put a freeze on all new hires, and that I would have to wait. Well, I did.

I remember that after I heard that, I thought I would have to become the front-runner for the position, so I sent a resume weekly with a whole new cover letter. I made this my job since I wasn’t working per se. I wrote and I sent and I stopped into the office. Just to keep my face known. Anyway, eventually, the director of publicity called me and told me that she really liked me, but that I didn’t need to send resumes every week. So I started sending two per week after that point. I thought that since I had someone’s attention, I could make a believer out of them.

My persistence paid off because eventually the freeze came to an end. It lasted about 6 months, but it came to an end. Due to my varied experience, I had not yet gotten another job in that time, and the job market became more and more strained. So 6 months later, I was not only the front runner, but I was also one of the few who held onto a dream or desire to work in corporate music, that I had not taken a temporary job or anything like that. So, that’s the story on how I got to work for one of the largest record companies in the world. While there, my co-worker left, so that meant more work for me. And years later, my director left as well, so I was gaining my job security, until corporate decided to shut the doors. Oh well.

CWG: What kinds of bands did you work with while at EMI?

Grammy winner Ramsey Lewis (piano)
Frank Black of the Pixies
Jane Birkin (namesake for the coveted Birken Bag by Hermes)
Grammy winner Lila Downs
Grammy winners Blind Boys of Alabama
Afro Celt Sound System
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

CWG: The rumors say that you took a quick break from the music biz to hock soda machines for Coca-Cola. Can you tell us about that?

Sure thing - When I started doing sales at Coke, I was somewhat shy, but I picked up the knack really fast. By the end of the time I was there, I was on the very top of my game. I had all the major accounts in Southeastern Wisconsin, and I could be anywhere in the territory at any given time.

I had the rap to go with it too. I learned the mirror technique in college, and I was basically mirroring people all day long for my own benefit. I didn't manipulate anyone, I simply presented myself the way they wanted to see me.

For example, I would be in a business park, and roll up my sleeves and meet engineers while smoking a cigarette. I would be in an urban area and lose my tie and put in earrings. I would go to a doctor's office, put on different shoes (the first thing people look at in sales), and straighten my tie. It was about this time that I would be the cockiest.

I would walk in, dressed to impress, not holding a briefcase or anything else. I'd be nothing but smiles until it was time to talk. I would do the 2 minute run down of what I could offer (rather, what I was willing to offer, since I made commission), dig up a pre-written contract (again, cocky) out of my back pocket, and say that's what I could offer.

More than half of the potential clients would scoff at me and call me cocky. I'd retort that my confidence in my superior product, and the unparalleled service I would personally provide, are far from conceit.

They'd say they were going to go with Pepsi since they offered more. I'd refold my contract, put it back in my back pocket and tell them I completely understand. I'd then hand them a card, write my cell number on the back, and tell them they'd need it.

They'd say things like "you're pretty sure of yourself, etc." Then I'd say "yes, I am sure of myself. How do you think I make most of my business? Sir, I don't need this sale. I made all my numbers for this month, last month! But I urge you to try something else before you stay with me."

CWG: What kinds of esteemed publications have you written for (besides Chicks With Guns)?

Wow. Well, I got my start with Maximum Ink Music Magazine in the Midwest. Rokker, the publisher, really gave me a lot of creative freedom with all my pieces that I can’t even express how invaluable the experience was. I really came into my own through that publication.

Then, I was asked to write for Lumino Magazine out of Chicago. That was great too. I had a lot of freedom there too, and the layout was all web-based, as so many things were going toward, so I liked the new medium.

Then, I wrote for The Onion and later for M Magazine when I was put on the cover. That was trippy. Even later, I branched out to the UK and still contribute to Subba Cultcha. I like the reach of that one since it’s UK-based.

It’s just wild that someone across the pond may be reading my rants.

CWG: Where’s your absolute favorite place in L.A. to see a show?

Well, there are a lot of them, but my absolute favorite place would have to be Avalon. It’s usually not on anyone’s list, but I like it for a few reasons. First, it’s right in Hollywood. I’m not going to the Orpheum or the Forum to see a show. I want my entertainment right in my backyard. Second, the Avalon reminds me a lot of the kidn of venues back in the Midwest (where my heart is). The Riverside or Pabst theaters in Milwaukee, or the Aragon in Chicago have a similar layout. They were built for plays and such, and the architecture is sublime.

I like seeing live music at those kinds of venues because it reminds me that it’s nothing new, and that people have been enthralled with entertainment long before me.

My second choice is the Roxy on Sunset. I absolutely love the sound there.

CWG: What artist are you currently listening to?

I listen to a lot of different music regularly. As of late, I’ve been in my Stereophonics phase. I go through it often. I really just love that band. If you would ask me what I think of Stereophonics, I’d have to say that I think they’re one of the most consistent bands out there, and one of the most talented. When people say U2 is their favorite band, you get it. I think that if you give Stereophonics some time, they’ll be in that echelon. I hope so at least! I also am really digging the Gallows and Enter Shikari. Brit punk and hardcore hasn’t sounded this good since the Sex Pistols. Then I have also been listening to a lot of electronica – Kruder and Dorfmeister, Thievery Corporation, Costa Music, etc. It’s all on my spectrum man; it just depends on what mood!

CWG: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I moved to Los Angeles after the music industry, that I worked for, closed doors on me. Moving from the confines of home, and a less volatile job market, made it the craziest thing I could have ever done. It paid off though.

If you’re looking for the comical or adventurous things though, I’d say that when I climbed Mount Everest in my early 20s, then hang glided off the highest plateau peak with my guide, I’d say that was the craziest thing. It’s one of those things that you do and can’t really top it easily. And you spend the rest of your life trying to top it. Naw, I didn’t really do that. I don’t do crazy. I quantify and qualify pretty much everything in my life, so it’s all thought out. Some people are spontaneous, I’m a planner. Trust me, the world needs people like me.


Oasis vs. Echo & The Bunnymen!

“Rescue” – Echo & The Bunnymen – (Crocodiles, Sire 1980)

Buy On:
Echo and The Bunnymen

I’m conflicted this month. Usually I rant and rave about how people don’t know about the older bands that tend to influence newer bands. Usually it’s of the funk denomination too, so people are even more vexed by my tastes. Alas, I also grew up fancying the alternative genre, before alternative was a genre. Hell, I used to call it “new wave” and I was really fucking into it.

Putting aside the Billy Ocean, Mary Jane Girls or Midnight Star records, I was also really into the likes of Depeche Mode, The Cure and Love and Rockets. And I remember the first time I heard Echo and The Bunnymen.

Now, I got on the Echo scene by 1985 when I heard a cassette a friend had. It was the compilation record called “Songs To Learn And Sing.” The first song from that record was “Rescue” and the guitar work, as well as the somewhat pained, yet somewhat angry vocals by front man Ian McCulloch, was out of this world!

Yes, there were a ton of these kinds of bands around in the early/mid-1980s. Some were good and some just released a single or a record and went away until the retro-heads found the track and started making 80s compilations. Anyway, out of the sea of fluff bands like Flock Of Seagulls or Frankie Goes To Hollywood, emerged Echo.

The quick history is simple: Echo was the name given to the drum machine belonging to the drummer-less band, The Bunnymen, a band of ex-members of other bands in Britain. The band has their roots in the late 1970s Brit-rock scene. The drum machine was ditched after Pete de Freitas joined the band, yet the name stuck. “Crocodiles” was Echo & The Bunnymen’s triumphant debut. The percussive de Freitas left and rejoined the band, and was later the tragic reason the band parted ways when he was killed in a car accident (late 1980s). McCulloch went his way; The Bunnymen went their way; only to reassemble in the late 1990s. There’s the history. Now you know it.

Around this very same time, there was a buzz about another British band who called themselves Oasis. The Mancunians fought and made headlines, yet played and made headlines as well, so the working-class heroes we all of a sudden mega superstars.

It’s easy to confuse it, but all in all, Echo paved the way for Oasis (as did Bauhaus for Nine Inch Nails, and The Replacements for The Strokes, etc.). Oasis is the Echo & The Bunnymen for the 90s generation, despite Echo still being a viable musical entity.

I guess my reason for this month’s column is simple. It doesn’t stray too far from my usual rants because for every artist you hear today, there was another band they got their chops from. Hell, Kurt Cobain often said he ripped everything from The Pixies, and Al Jourgensen would go onto say he took ZZ Top’s sounds. Nevertheless, history lessens on modern music should be taught at all schools. The earlier the better!

What sparked this? Well, Coachella just took place this weekend. I was always an avid Coachella festival-goer, but this year, I sat out. I do recall attending in 2005 though. Nine Inch Nails, New Order, Bauhaus, etc., it was great. I was walking through clouds of stinky ignorance, and I overhear a few kids.

Now, by kids, I would say they are about 13 or 14-years-old. They’re getting adamant about how bad this band is that’s playing and they don’t know who it is. They’re asking each other and none of them know. I overhear it, stop in my tracks, and backtrack a few steps and say, “This is Bauhaus dude!”

The adolescent looks at me, smiles at his friends, and in unison, they all say “They suck!”

I had to process what I was hearing (over “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” mind you), but I managed to say, “Wow, okay. Well, without Bauhaus, there’d be no Nine Inch Nails. You like them [as I point to their recently purchased shirts] don’t you? Where do you think Trent Reznor got his style?!”

They listened, so I’ll give them credit for at least hearing me, but then the de facto leader of stooges says, “They suck. Fuck you, grandpa!”

And they all had a good laugh at my expense, as I walked away to laughter from my own friends, as I shook my head all the way to the non-stinky VIP area.

Yes, ‘fuck you, grandpa’ indeed. If being informed and versed in all aspects of music garners that lack of respect from the youth, then yes, I will take my lumps. But it’s these little geniuses that will say the same shit: “I’m an old school fan of NIN. I’ve been into Nine Inch Nails since ‘I wanna fuck you like an animal’ came out.” It’s these future trailer home owners that will put down the eyeliner wearers who follow The Cure, yet love Kiss. It’s all of this that creates divides between people.

Skip tee ball and flag football people. If your children don’t understand the impact that Manchester and Britain had on middle America, they might never know. Don’t even get me started on the Joy Division/New Order and Revenge/Electronic offshoots they gave birth to.

If reading is fundamental, then listening should be constitutional.

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