Citizen Staff Writer
Hailing from the “cheap and sunny” city of Albuquerque, N.M., Fast Heart Mart (a band and a man), with upcoming shows at Plush and Casbah Tea House, offers a fun, goofy twist on folk. After listening to Fast Heart Mart (aka Martin) and Roblyn “the Goblin” perform their songs of worldly discontent, quitting your job and preparing for the end of the world will never seem like better ideas. We caught up with the touring duo via e-mail.
What got you into playing music? When did you start?
FHM: I had a lot of anxiety as a kid (and still do) and I was going to therapists and stuff, but then I discovered I could have my own personal therapist through songs.
R: Jimmy Page. In ’77, I saw Zeppelin live in Phoenix at the university. That’s when I started playing electric guitar. . . . A cherry-red pre-CBS Fender Mustang. Then the Sex Pistols came along and I realized that even I could be in a band!
How would you describe your style of music?
FHM: I like to call it Sidewalk Rock because it is a quiet, dinky, intimate music that you can play without plugging into the grid. I usually have to just call it folk-rock, though, or acoustic punk.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
FHM: I try to capture those unpleasant things and hang them out to dry so I can conquer them.
R: On the street when the little children make their parents stop to listen and dance and then cry when they’re made to leave. I can see that the innocents really need this music and the jaded ones will try to discourage us. But we have to keep getting the songs out there for the thirsty before they give up on sincerity all together.
Where did Martin get the name “Fast Heart Mart”?
R: Fast Heart Mart was born with a congenital heart defect that makes his heart race sometimes. It has taken family members. When he was 17, he had a defibrillator implanted in chest to shock it back into rhythm. He suffered a lot of anxiety until he learned relaxation techniques of yoga, breathing and moderate exercise. And, his name is “Martin.”
A lot of your songs seem to portray a frustration with living a typical life and working boring jobs. Does this stem from personal experience?
FHM: Yes. And I like to encourage people to dream their biggest dream and chase it as fast as they can.
Where do you most like to play music?
FHM: Outside, totally acoustic, on a nice, sunny day.
R: This music sounds better played outside: Sidewalks, porches, garden parties and festivals. But we also enjoy playing on ferries in New Zealand, in red-lit lounges, listening rooms and cafes filled with our fans, friends and families.
How do you guys tour?
R: Two years ago we converted a diesel VW camper van to run on salvaged vegetable oil, which we collect from the better restaurants. You can read about the conversion at biofuelvan.blogspot.com. We travel coast to coast selling CDs and shirts while making a documentary about our travels. You can watch our weekly progress at fastheartmarttour.blogspot.com. Mutant Mariachi is Martin’s own recording label, so we keep all the money we make. In 2007, we toured New Zealand where Fast Heart Mart has dual citizenship. Europe will be next!
You visit Tucson on a fairly regular basis. What attracts you?
FHM: The people are great. Anarchists, students, hippies, bicyclists, etc. And the sunshine!!!
R: I was born there! We love to eat at the Casbah Tea House. . . . And we love Plush. . . . We love Toxic Ranch Records where you can buy our CDs, and the free store at Dry River Collective. We love Hotel Congress and their incomparable Bloody Mary bar!
Money? Fame? Fortune? What are your goals for the future?
FHM: Money to pay for our house would be nice and to go out to eat every once and a while. I want to write happier songs that don’t come across wrong. Good health.
R: Peace, love and anarchy.
Tell me about your guitar.
FHM: It is a double-neck acoustic guitar. I have to have an acoustic guitar because we play a lot of shows without any amplification.
I used to travel with two guitars. One in standard tuning, one in “C-minor” tuning. I was always having to switch between the two onstage and I even forgot one in a town once. Now I have one guitar with two necks.
My current one is a double neck ovation like Richie Sambora used from Bon Jovi. I bought it in Portland for $200 after someone stole my other double neck acoustic guitar. I never thought I’d play an Ovation guitar, but I really like it. The rounded back makes it project really well in acoustic situations. I spray-painted it with my favorite colors. . . . black and blue.
In the song “Mayan Prophecy,” you sing about the world coming to an end in the year 2012. Do you really believe this is going to happen?
FHM: I think in some ways it already is. People are becoming more aware of the environment and their surroundings. I like to think that the end of the world is a good thing. No one’s going to die, just a new beginning. Maybe money will have no meaning?
R: Polar shift? Mass evolution via DNA light activation? Aliens taking us away?
Turning away from governmental corruption and war to embrace personal responsibility and peace through true equality and global consensus decision-making? It’s gonna be big.
You and Roblyn have a great dynamic onstage. Where did you meet and how did you end up playing together?
R: Like Sonny and Cher. Everybody secretly loves watching other couples bicker!!
I first heard Fast Heart Mart by accident during Winter Solstice 2002 at a little nightclub in Albuquerque. He played his set of songs fusing acoustic punk with rap, East Indian raga, and old-time mountain music with lyrics about quitting your job. His sincerity made me care again.
Two weeks later I saw him again. I told him not to stop playing music. That it was very important he keep making this amazing music. I said, “I’m a musician, too, and I hate everything.”
I told him I had worked in every facet of the music industry for over 20 years and my professional advice to him was, “Quit your day job.”
Two weeks later, I was playing his acoustic bass!
IF YOU GO
What: Fast Heart Mart in concert
When/Where: Saturday at Casbah Tea House, 628 N. Fourth Ave., 8 p.m.; Monday at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., 9:30 p.m.
Info: Casbah Tea House, 740-0393, www.casbahteahouse.com; Plush, 798-1298, www.plushtucson.com