music morsels indie music April 2007


Tony Martino

ARTIST NAME: Tony Martino of Martino Conspiracy
MUSICAL GENRE: Adult contemporary alt rock
# OF CDs SOLD: 6000 of his solo release
FAN BASE: Several thousand

MM: Have you always been a songwriter?

TM: I actually started as a guitarist playing in typical high school garage bands. That was really casual. I started seriously writing songs about six years ago and had pretty much considered myself a solo artist at the time.

MM: You put out a solo CD that was distributed by Koch Records. How did that all come about?

TM: Unfortunately, there were several mitigating factors surrounding that release. Nothing happened the way it was supposed to in regard to the touring, the release and the marketing of it. It sold around six thousand copies but it would have probably done a lot better had it been done properly. I was just a kid at the time and didn't quite know enough about the business. I was concentrating more on the music because I was a solo artist. I did all the writing and all the tracks and parts on the album.

MM: Where you working more with hired gun musicians at the time rather than actually having a band together?

TM: Yes, it was more session musicians that I had known for a while that did the drums and helped flesh out the parts. I actually ended up asking a couple of the guys if they did want to join a band, and that was the start of the formation of Martino Conspiracy,

MM: Was the main reason you formed a band to tour with your music?

TM: Yeah. The idea of forming a band rather than just calling it Tony Martino was strictly for marketing. Most solo artists tend to use their own names nowadays rather than a band name. I wanted to do something that was a little more identifiable as a band.

MM: When you assembled your band members did you feel right away that there was a good vibe between you and the members, and this was a line up that could go somewhere?

TM: There was definitely a buzz and this is a very talented group of players. Most of us have known each other for awhile now and were friends of mine before they were band members, so that has really helped. I already had all the music for the new CD written when we went in the studio, but we are starting to do some new songs live that everyone in the band has some creative input with.

MM: So beyond the songs on the upcoming CD, you have been testing new music at your shows rather than in the studio?

TM: We have only been playing those new songs live. I have a lot of songs written already, and if I find one that I think may work, I bring it into rehearsal and we just learn it and add parts to it as we go.

MM: What have you done so far to pre-market the CD?

TM: The CD officially comes out June 5th and it has worldwide distribution, We want to start releasing kind of selectively depending on where we are touring. We have several airplay promotions going as well as a PR campaign and another upcoming national radio promotion. One of our songs did actually chart last month on the Top-40 AC chart. We also plan on getting out and touring nationally in the upcoming months, heading to the Southwest first.

MM: What are some of the more grass roots ways you have promoted the band?

TM: Street teams are one of the original methods of getting the word out. We have been doing that for a while here in Chicago and that has helped us. We want to try to develop that concept nationally as well.

MM: You have performed in clubs beyond Chicago where people have never heard of the band or their music. Are you winning the crowds over and what is it about Martino Conspiracy that is winning them over?

TM: The number one thing is the songs. People are only going to like the songs at the end of the day. We have strong songs and people are really starting to dig them, and when we go back to a town, we notice that the crowds are getting bigger. People are coming out and getting the word out about us.

MM: What inspires your lyric writing?

TM: Everything is very personal, and is either written about me or real events and situations or observations. Lyrics are actually the last thing I will write. Usually I will have all the music written and I will have the vocal melodies plotted out. Then I will go back, feel the mood of the song and input whatever lyrics come to mind and build off of that.

MM: I hear a lot of diversity in your influences. Do you feel that is what you have always done with your songwriting, weave these diverse influences into a unique sound?

TM: I have so many different influences and I don't know why anyone would want to write just one sound. I don't sit down and say I want to write this style or that style. Whatever happens just happens when I write. Brian Wilson is one of my big influences and there is one song on the CD that people do say sounds like it is something he would write. In that particular song, I did want to put something in there that was obvious I had been influenced by Brian Wilson, a dedication kind of thing. I do like to find ways to win everybody over with my songwriting.

MM: What is your personal definition of success as far as Martino Conspiracy is concerned. Do you think you can achieve that success and what will it take to get there?

TM: As far as the definition of success is concerned, that is a tough question to answer. A lot of people say be happy with what you are doing. Anyone who writes songs or are in the pursuit of music do it because they love to do it, but the reality is you have to be able to make a living. There is nothing that I would rather do than make a living making music. If that can come together, then that would be a success for me whether we are the next coming of the Rolling Stones or just a local band doing good. As far as how to do it, we just have to play as many shows as possible. With the internet technology today, I think mainstream radio is going out the window and internet radio is taking over. With Myspace and other outlets, there are so many mediums to get your music out there and so many ways for people to discover music beyond what was the traditional way of having to be on a major label used to dictate.
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