Mad the Martian Will Take You On a Vintage Rock-and-Roll Trip… So Blast Off!
BOSTON - A new musical ship has landed! Yes, Mad the Martian has arrived and if you favor good ole’ rock music (but) with a new twist – strictly recorded with vintage equipment - then buckle up your seats for Blast Off, an ambitious new CD that is definitely worth your attention. 13 tracks of “fresh, future/classic rock-and-roll” that will bring you back to the days when real rock bands understood the formula: great song writing played through classic instruments, with an attitude towards creating a true sonic, rock-and-roll tone and atmosphere… in other words no laptops, auto tune, drum machines or any of that other modern day technology!
Article by Joe Milliken* Photos courtesy of Mad the Martian. Animated image featuring Cap'n Jack (front), Ron E Raygun and Ajax Ray O Vaque (back)
Longtime Boston-area rockers (and brothers) Bob and Jack Marsh, along with producer extraordinaire Anthony J. Resta, are the creators behind the music, a culmination through years of loving not only classic rock music, but the vintage equipment it was created with. “The first and still the most influential writer for me is Brian Wilson, after that Paul McCartney then Todd Rundgren and Elvis Costello,” Bob Marsh stated in a recent, Standing Room Only interview.
“If you look at the influences of such artists as Queen, Billy Joel and Elton, it all comes back to The Beach Boys and the Beatles... some of my other early rock influences include Aerosmith, Boston and the aforementioned Queen. My brother Jack and I have been the nucleus of many bands since the early 80's including Adam's Fall, The Answer and Random Harvest. We gigged around Boston and local Colleges, but never could really keep a band together... but we kept writing songs.”
Here’s where it gets even better…
After recently reuniting with their longtime friend, Mr. Resta, (who has worked with a few artists you may have heard of including Elton John, Blondie, Megadeath, Collective Soul, Perry Farrell, Duran Duran, Nuno Bettencourt, Dale Bozio) to work on one track, the exercise ultimately turned into a full-fledged, band and CD project. “We always stayed in touch with Anthony and when our other business started doing very well, Jack and I decided to have another go. We had hundreds of songs in various stages of completion and decided to just do it! We had been more in touch with Anthony with the advent of Facebook so we met for dinner and the vibe we had 20 years before was still there like a childhood friend.”
“We had worked together in the early 90’s and when the Marsh brothers decided to record again, they gave me a call,” Anthony J. Resta recently told SRO. Resta also goes by his songwriting alter ego - Ajax, since the late 80’s and Ajax Ray O Vaque since the mid 90’s. “We grew up listening to the same kinds of music (Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Beatles, Elton, Sparks, Crack The Sky) and set out to re-live our childhoods in music together. All the songs were written by the three of us in the studio and we performed the bulk of the music as well; Bob on lead and rhythm guitars, Jack on synthesizers and myself on drums, guitars and various other outer space sounds.”
The material was recorded at Resta’s Bopnique Studios just north of Boston and some 1300 hours were spent recording the music that would become Blast Off. “On normal lockout days we’d work from noon until midnight,” Marsh said. “We already had a lot of material, yet someone would come up with a riff or even miss-hear a riff, that might end up changing or becoming its own song.”
Other artists making contributions to the album include Charlie Farren, Robert Holmes, Richard B. Gates, Jeff “Gizmo Static” Calder, Steve Sadler, Richie Aveo, Paul Candilore, Michael Blackmer and Henley Douglas. While just as important, are the contributions and (as I have heard his contemporaries describe it) wizardry of Karyadi Sutedja, Resta’s longtime engineering partner. "Without the engineering skills of Karyadi, the project definitely wouldn't have been the same," Jack Marsh stated in a recent SRO interview.
Another aspect these friends have in common is the love for vintage music gear; we’re talkin’ analog, tape machines, synthesizers, pickups and amp cabs and heads. The brothers are always buying, selling and trading guitars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and from the get-go, made a conscious decision to only write and record Mad the Martian using gear from the music era of their youth. “Bob and Jack are super talented writers, gear collectors, musicians and rock historians,” Resta said.
“They can tell you what amp Pete Townsend used on Who’s Next... and most likely what speakers they used and who wired them... and I’m not exaggerating! We decided to only use gear that was built before 1979 and it really gives the record a vibe that takes us back to our youth. Karyadi (who has been tracking and mixing records at Bopnique since 1996) is a creative, brilliant sonic sculptor and is our ‘fifth Beatle’ for sure.”
"We have a good collection of vintage gear and it still sounds better than modern stuff," Jack Marsh said. "The record is a good representation of the different types of music we are into. It was really cool to record some of the songs that Bob and I started some 16 years ago... the three of us work together very well and in fact, I'm ready to start working on the next album."
“I'm a guitar player-gear head, who doesn't want to own a vintage iconic guitar that the legends used,” Bob Marsh added. “They (vintage guitars) are not all great but, the great ones inspire you to play better... they react to your touch and you make better music when you're inspired by great tone. I dare say I don't think you will ever hear a digital synth in our music.”
Moving forward, there are also plans for a Blast Off film/television animated series featuring of course, Mad the Martian, a wacky rock band (members are Cap'n Jack, Ron E Raygun and Ajax Ray O Vaque) from another solar system that’s on a mission to stamp out all auto tune abuse and laptop uniformity in the universe. “We have plans to bring this project to the screen in a cartoon format,” Bob concluded. “It continues to evolve but as of now, the music is here and the people who ‘get it’ are really getting it. So, we’re off to a good start with several non-exclusive deals for film and television use.
“We made a rock record without trying to fit in with the flavor of the month. We love guitars and they have been eliminated from pop music for the most part... along with real drums... so we’re making new music the way they used to do it and we hope you all will like it as much as we do!”
To learn more about Mad the Martian and Blast Off, please visit the band’s website at www.madthemartian.com. Editor's note: Also watch for an SRO CD review of "Blast Off" coming very soon.