“Since 1994, Frontman Jason Martin – Starflyer 59 has been releasing album after album beginning with Tooth & Nail Records. Now on their 16th LP ‘Vanity’, and spanning from a wide array of styles, starting in petal stomping Shoegaze, dreampop, post-punk, post-rock – lo-fi elements, then mid-range radio pop alternative and middle of the road. SF59 has found merit in the cult circle of the music world. The music hails back from the yesteryear, as Martin says, “He’s always felt like an old soul, and he’s only reached mid-age” Special thanks to Jeff Cloud for allowing this interview over at Velvet Blue Music. Growing up with Starflyer 59 as a teen in the 90’s, was a personal fav of mine, and a real honor to speak with him. – This one is for the ages.”
Did you grow up listening to Chet Adkins or surf music playing on the hi-fi during your childhood by chance? Did your parents listen to all kinds of stuff when you were a kid?
Jason Martin: Not really, my dad listened to Frank Sinatra and stuff like that, my mom listened to Christian rock.. Stuff like Larry Norman, Daniel Amos, and Kieth Green. My music pool was not really large until I became a teenager and found bands like the Smiths, New Order and the Pixies…from there I got really into music and started playing drums, guitars etc..
The more I listen to Vanity, the more it grows on me, such as in the past with other albums you’ve done. The synth just melts on ‘Life in Bed’ plus the vocals on this album are very clean, and bring out more of what is hiding on the other albums. Was this an intentional change?
JM: Thanks, glad you like the record. The more upfront vocal sound was a decision by TW Walsh who produced and mixed the record.
What would you say helped form the sound of what SF59 became? Leaving the early noisy sound, to the more sparse clean sounds of Vanity?
JM: Its just been a long time. The shifts in sound through the years was mainly just wanting to do something a little different for each record. Most of the old records were done in my early 20’s, not really sure I could even make music like that any more…but one of these days I would like to try.
The Morellas Forest record that you played drums on with your brother in 1988, was just recently released to Velvet Blue Music, was that a fun trip of nostalgia for you?
JM: It totally was, I hadn’t heard that record in a long long time. I was 15 when we started recording that record…bittersweet hearing it now after all these years.
I’ve always had an affinity for your 2001 album Leave Here A Stranger, it was a huge transition for me as a listener. How do you feel about it now? What were your influences at that time, and was there a certain sound you were trying to achieve?
JM: Thanks! At the time I wanted something lo fi..it was a hip thing around then listening to records like Pet Sounds and stuff like that, so I thought we would try to make a record in that mode.
I’m not sure how much of it we actually pulled it off, but I do like the record.
How did you end up collaborating with Dave Bazan for the Lo Tom records?
JM: I met Dave in 1998 or something like that. We are old friends, I’ve always dug his voice and we thought, It would be fun to collaborate on some tunes. Tw Walsh and Trey are also old friends , so we all got together and made a couple of records.
Lo Tom – Jason Martin
Jason Martin goes back to his roots of heavier rock-related music with Lo Tom, in much the same way with his 2006 album My Island on Tooth & Nail Records.
Is there any gear that you always hold on to? A fav guitar or pedal or whatever?
JM: I am always buying and selling old guitars and gear, so a lot of stuff I had way back when I no longer have…wish I did. The only gear I have kept from the early days is a 1993 Fender MIJ Jazzmaster, an orange Boss Distortion Pedal and a baby blue Boss chorus pedal. Those things have pretty much showed up on every record I have made somewhere or another.
Does it feel like a dear friend is leaving when you hear the final song on one of your albums, including Vanity?
JM: Well…it kinda feels more like someone who has stayed too long is finally leaving. The records take a long time to make and it is very hard to hear them clearly for a while after they are done.
What’s next for SF59?
JM: Not sure right now, possibly a new Ep.
As we get older, our tastes change, especially our influences, what has changed in your music influences these days?
JM: I think the older I get I like a lot more music that I didn’t like when I was young..Not saying that is always a good thing, when I was young I knew what chords I liked and so on…Now I like certain lead guitar styles and playing that I thought would have been a bit lame when I was young, what can you do…
I was about 18 when you released ‘Gold’ in 1995, (a friend let me borrow the CD for a year) do you remember how it felt to tour in those days, was it fun? I had the pleasure of once seeing those early bands of Tooth & Nail at The Warehouse in Bartlesville, OK around that year. Do you remember doing that show?
JM: It was fun,..Being a young kid and going on the road playing guitar how could it not be. I do remember playing the Warehouse in Bartlesville, always a cool place to play.
Were you self-taught in both guitar and drums, and you also play the piano, is that right?
JM: Pretty much self taught..My buddy Randy Lamb who was the bass player in Morellas Forest taught me an E minor and a D major chord, I kind of just figured out other stuff from there. I think to this day I don’t do the right finger shapes for some of my chords, but its too late to change:)
Anything in closing?
JM: Thanks for the interview. I appreciate it.
#WEATNU Digital Magazine – Feb 2022
Get the new album ‘Vanity’ over at Velvet Blue MusicVanity by Starflyer 59