Interview: Andy Martin

Dan McAvinchey: Andy, how did you all get started in music, and what led to your selecting the guitar as your primary instrument?

Andy Martin: Well Dan, my mother was a classical pianist. She would always be playing the piano when I was growing up. So the feeling of freedom was displayed by her
performing all the time. At first I started to play drums, then piano when I
was a kid, but an old high school friend named Joe Sullivano is the reason I
picked up a guitar. He said to me one day, "Andy man, duuude you should play
guitar." So I picked up a guitar at a pawn shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut for like
$25. I walked in to the pawn shop and dropped a bag of change on the
counter (laughs). I don't even think I had enough money for the guitar. The
guy behind the counter looked at me like I was so desperate and the funny thing is - I was! So my mothers playing inspired me, as well as opened my
ears to the sonicable language, and that is how I was introduce to my
destiny. As for my friend Joe, he is the reason I play a guitar. So Joe, thank you and I owe you man, where ever you are.

Dan McAvinchey: When did you first discover you had the ability to write original music?

Andy Martin: Since day one. One of the main reasons I was attracted to music is that you can express yourself sonically. That is the biggest freedom. It's like
getting on a Harley and riding the open road with the wind in your hair! I
believe at any technical level we as players should always compose. You can
have all the chops in the world man, but if you can't compose, you're missing
out on the big picture. You should learn how to incorporate all your
technique into your compositions. Make your compositions say something to
your audience, they should have depth and movement. I love composing!

Dan McAvinchey: Who would you say are your biggest influences in the style of music you play?

Andy Martin: My playing and compositions are so diverse. I must say that my mother was a huge influence on my playing. Also, Antonio Vivaldi, Brahms, Vai, Satch, Yngwie
Malmsteen, Larry Carlton - the list goes on and on. I always expose myself
to all genres of music. I look at it this way Dan, even if a certain genre
doesn't appeal to me, I can still learn from it! I love to learn about our
universal language. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. I always loved
classical, jazz, rock, neo-classical, be-bop. I love it all and I listen to
all styles with an open mind and ears.

Dan McAvinchey: What gear did you use to record your CD and how important a role do you think the selection of recording equipment and instruments plays in the final quality of the album?

Andy Martin: The selection of recording equipment and instruments is a part of what makes us unique. It is always interesting to hear what others have used in the studio, or in live performance. I proudly endorse Ibanez, Eventide Harmonizers, SIT
Strings, Dimarzio and Levy's Leathers. The guitars I used were Ibanez 2540DNT, Jem 7WVH, UV777, SC500N, and my Custom RG models. I used a Eventide GTR4000, DSP7000, and a Orville for my effects. In my opinion, Eventide makes the best effects processors. The pickups I have in my guitars are Dimarzio Fast Track 1, Fast Track 2, Air Norton, Air Zone and a
Humbucker From Hell. I must say I enjoy the Fast Track 1, Air Norton and Air Zone the
most, they are very satisfying. I string my guitars up with SIT Power Wound strings. I mainly use .009-.046. Then I strap up my beasts with Levy's Leathers guitar straps. As for the recording equipment, everything was recorded with Pro Tools.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you get a chance to perform the material from your CD live?

Andy Martin: Oh yeah. when it was first released, I was at the Summer NAMM and I played every day , three times a day. I mainly focus on playing and performing all
over the country and overseas right now. I just want to play guitar and
share the love of my music with others. I also look forward to making some new friends out
there. So my main focus from here on in, is to play and perform. The stage is my turf now!


Dan McAvinchey: How do you plan to spread the word about your new CD?

Andy Martin: Well, working with a great site like yours has been very helpful and thank you very much Dan. You have been a great person and tremendously helpful! I also plan on putting a huge clinic tour together with my endorsees. I have tons of
press coming out in all the guitar magazines, tons of reviews and
interviews. But like I said before, hitting the road is the best way to
promote yourself. So, from here on in, I plan to play everywhere in the USA and I am definitely going to Japan and Europe and I plan to stay there for a while - well as long as I can!

Dan McAvinchey: Why did you decide to form your own record label and release an independent record?

Andy Martin: Let's face it, it is hard to get a label to pick you up and understand your visions. On the other hand, doing an independent release, you have control
and you learn a lot. Sure, it is hard work, but I love to work hard for a dream! Sure, you have to lay out some cash, but when the cash comes in you don't have to give anyone a percentage. There are many successful artists out there who've started their own labels, so why can't I do it, you know what I mean Dan?

Dan McAvinchey: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Andy Martin: The main advantage is freedom. You can play, compose and perform whereever and whatever you like. You meet a lot of great people, artists like
yourself, and we all try to help each other out. Also, being an independent
musician, your chance of being a one hit wonder is very slim (laughs). Your
music will always grow with you. I think independent musicians strive harder, and most of all you get to express yourself 100%.

The disadvantages would be not getting to be a one hit wonder (laughs). You don't have a team working for you, promoting you and supporting you. But being independent you
have control of your own destiny! And you rule your own destiny. I'd rather
control my destiny and be a big fish in a small pond , then a small fish is
a big pond.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel about the national press and how they are currently covering guitar-oriented music? Do you think there is a bias against instrumental artists?

Andy Martin: All the guitar magazines and publications are very helpful with the press they provide. I think over the years they have strayed away from 'the guitar
player'. For example, when I started to play guitar, there was true guitar
legends on the covers every month for every publication, such as Vai, Satch,
Yngwie, etc. Now you get Korn and Limp Biskit, and nothing against them at all,
they are very successful and deserve it. They are big for a reason and they
deserve it 100%, but I feel they settle for mediocrity, and I don't. This goes back to being an independent musician.. Will Korn and those bands be around forever? I
don't think so, hopefully they can. But will Andy Martin be around forever?
You bet my friend and I will try to stay around. I think there is a bias
against instrumental artists, but we have to look at what is popular out
there, because that is what sells.

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Dan McAvinchey: What do you think the future holds for digitally distributed music such as mp3s, or other forms of digital music?

Andy Martin: I think that is the future! Basically, I don't see record labels being around forever. It is easy enough to finance your own record. You can
also work hard to get distribution and marketing. Once again Dan, these
labels are only signing a certain genre, mainly. That is so sad. I remember
the days when Madonna, Prince, MC Hammer, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Whitesnake,
Michael Bolton, Run DMC and Satriani were all huge at the same time. Years
ago, they found the best few groups/bands of each genre and promoted them.
They all were successful at the same time. Now it seems like the new guys,
at the labels just don't get it. In a nutshell Dan, the labels are missing out on a huge
market and audience. And the people will go somewhere else to get that music!

Dan McAvinchey: What do you have planned for the next year or two?

Andy Martin: For the next year or so I plan to play and perform all over the globe, wherever and whenever, as much as possible. I have been asked to play in
Italy, Demark, Germany, Holland and Japan as well all over the USA! So I will be busy playing but also I love to meet people when I'm out on the road and make new friends. I
always enjoy checking out the culture in foreign places.

Also, I will be doing a clinic tour for my endorsees. I will be playing at
Jemfest 2003 for Steve Vai's charity. My new instructional aides will be released in December with Mel Bay. The book is called the "Arpeggio Encyclopedia", and it is
quoted by guitar legend Ted Greene. I might do a follow up book to my first
book "Seven String Guitar", which was published with Hal Leonard and quoted
by good friend Steve Vai.

On top of all that, I'm already thinking of the next record. I just want to play guitar, man. It could be in my room playing for myself or on a stage playing live for others! I just love the guitar more than ever these days!

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Guitarist Andy Martin is an up-and-coming seven-string player poised to take the guitar world by storm. Martin's instrumental compositions exhibit depth, taste and original expression with a wealth of harmonic content. In his compositions, one can hear influences from such greats as Steve Vai, Vivaldi, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Brahms, and Larry Carlton.

Dan McAvinchey had the following question-and-answer session with Martin, getting him to open up about his music and career.