Jonas Martin: Are You Listening to this Man

Check out Jonas Martin's release party at The Prophet Bar on Jan. 10, 2015.
Check out Jonas Martin’s album release party at the Prophet Bar on Jan. 10, 2015.

By Erika Hayes

Jonas Martin does not take himself too seriously. While most people turn to earnest, yet predictable adjectives to describe themselves, Martin’s “sarcastic, bigheaded and goofy” self-interpretation of his own personality produces an honest, yet colorful view of his true self. In fact, the latest video teasers for his debut album Chokecherry Jam feature parodies of cult classic horror movies such as Carrie and The Blair Witch Project.

If you are looking for that cliché musical artist who travels to foreign countries for inspiration, then he is not your guy. Martin definitely breaks the foundation of the traditional musician. Possessing an unruffled, yet confident style, his musical spirit screams rebel in every sense of the word.

Born in San Antonio but raised in Dallas, he’s a remix of the quintessential southern dude. When it comes to music, Martin’s eclectic taste solidifies his personality and melodic swag. Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, old blue eyes himself Frank Sinatra and Emmylou Harris are constants on his iTunes playlist.

Most musicians attribute their talent to good family genes and life experiences. Martin is no exception. His life encompasses the same ingredients typical to that of a legendary performer.

As a child he grew up playing the piano, was a member of his school bands and witnessed firsthand the impact of his father Glenn Martin’s career as a popular 98.7 KLUV DJ. Throw in ample encouragement from both parental units to chase his dreams and you have got the makings of a star. However, you also would be surprised to know two truths: it was not until his 20s that Martin was lured to follow his passion and he remains one of a few members within his family to actually pursue a career in music.

“My mother is an author and painter and my dad played bass guitar,” he said. “Surprisingly, not many people in my family are musicians. My brother plays guitar and I didn’t find out actually until I was already well into my music career and he is really good too.”

Upon hearing the first note of his new compilation, you quickly understand why his biggest influences are Kurt Cobain, Randy Newman and Ray Davies. You also would be surprised to learn that the country, folk, gospel and hip-hop genres have heavily influenced his rhythmic skill. Groups such as OutKast have played a massive part in cultivating his musical evolution.

If Martin’s name sounds familiar, you may recognize him as the keyboardist/songwriter/vocalist of the Dallas-based band Goodnight Ned. Only two words can simply summarize Martin’s decision to strike out on his own – individual creativity.

“There is definitely an element where I just wanted to do something and have complete control, just to see what would happen honestly,” he said.

For those Goodnight Ned fans who assume that the birth of Martin’s solo career means the death of the group, rest assured he still remains an integral part of the popular local band.

The album release for his highly anticipated solo album Chokecherry Jam, will take place Jan. 10 at the Prophet Bar, but the meaning behind the title itself is a conundrum. Chokecherries are naturally bitter berries that when combined with sugar and lemon juice create quite a tasty treat. So naturally one would assume that such an uncommon fruit spread would provoke an even deeper meaning. However, listeners shouldn’t think too much into the meaning behind the album’s name.

“The album overall has no specific conceptual meaning,” Martin explained.

As difficult as it is to believe, despite the complexity of each lyric included on the LP, there is no one method to determine his musical madness. In fact, the title came to life while he was on tour, traveling down a lonely country road in the middle of nowhere.

Quite the ingenious lyricist, Martin has no qualm about excluding exaggerated meaning during his valuable time in the studio.

“The album as a body of work was not produced with the intent to create a concept album, yet the theme of every song that is imbedded into the record’s sequence meshed well with one another,” he said. “I guess it is just the next step of my career as a songwriter.”

“No Wonder”, a single that explores his journey to find the meaning behind the many questions of life, definitely will spark curiosity behind what to expect from the remaining musical masterpiece. In the midst of dark undertones outwardly displayed by this single, a true interpretation of the tune’s deeper meaning lies exposed.

“It’s just me saying that maybe I don’t need to spend so much time worried about death and why we are here and all that nonsense when I have such a small amount of time to live my life,” he said.

There is no elaborate story behind how Martin chose special guests Oil Boom and Wesley Geiger for his impending album release. He didn’t bump into them at an epic trendy day party. Nope. His decision came solely from their parallel sounds and comparable flair that ensures a harmonious consistency during his Jan. 10 show.

Martin’s positive optimism about the impact of the album is refreshing; nevertheless, the focus remains centered on his fans’ overall contemplation of his latest project.

In the meantime, Jonas Martin still maintains his mission to restore enthusiasm about quality music, by encouraging both fans and music skeptics to rock out in life, one note at a time.