I recently got the opportunity to do a short interview with Jason Martin of Starflyer 59 about the upcoming new album, “Young In My Head”. We chat about the album as well as the past. This was conducted through email last week. Don’t forget to check out the new Starflyer 59 album “Young In My Head” April 26th via Tooth & Nail. You can find pre-orders right here on limited colored vinyl and CD.
Young In My Head, An Interview With Jason Martin of Starflyer 59
By Brandon Jones for Indie Vision Music
I’ve been a fan of Starflyer 59 as long as I can remember. Picking up “Silver” a little bit after its release and hearing the “shoegaze” sound for the first time was enlightening. I had been a fan of the whole grunge/alternative thing throughout early high school days and up until I found this whole thriving, underground Christian rock scene. This explosion of music and styles back in the early days was an alluring trip and something I just instantly felt drawn too. Starflyer 59 was one of those bands responsible not only for pushing the boundaries of genre and Faith but also fan’s own personal tastes. I was one of those fans, one of those people that took a liking to the music Jason Martin and bandmates helped cultivate throughout the 90’s and beyond.
My first exposure was “Silver” and “Gold” took my interest in ways I couldn’t comprehend. I still remember “booking” them (if you can call it that at 18 years old in my youth group basement) and seeing these superstars (in my mind) perform for a tiny group of stunned kids not knowing what to expect or how overwhelming their powerful music would overtake them. This was right after “Gold” but before “Americana” would drop. How insane it was to have these legends once play for like less than 50 youth in a sweaty basement here in Orange County, CA.
Those were the days, underground DIY music and ethos that would propagate not only here in So Cal. but across the country and beyond. Our little scene had a huge injection of Faith fueling it and keeping the fires burning but I think a sense of originality and diversity flooded this marketplace. Starflyer 59 were originators for what they did then and continue to do now.
IVM owes a great deal of gratitude to both Starflyer 59 and Tooth & Nail Records. Had it not been for groups like Starflyer 59 and the T&N roster as a whole, there would be no Indie Vision Music. Sure sites would have come and gone over the years but without that underground DIY “Christian music” spirit that continues to live on, Indie Vision Music wouldn’t have had the longevity and my creativity as a fan would have been nonexistent. For a guy like me who lacks real music skill (sure I played drums in high school for 4 years but let’s face it, never had a “band” work out and abandoned all playing after my young marriage in 98’), promotion and hype is what I fell back on to keep me running. Everything I do now, I owe to bands like Starflyer 59 and T&N. I am forever grateful for their influence.
We are on the verge of yet another Starflyer 59 “hit record” and I think “Young In My Head” could possibly be some of the best Starflyer 59 songs in several years. Every album is beautifully unique but just something instantly likeable rings true with these songs. Jason is a genius of songwriting and his knack for hearing melodies, putting that influence to work continues to inspire.
This my friends is a very special interview with the man who inspired a dumb youth like myself and at 41, puts perspective on that influence.
BrandonIVM: With a vast catalog of music, varying discographies, and so much music it would make any
music fan drool with envy, what has inspired you over the past 25+ years? What keeps your interest in
creating NEW music like “Young In My Head”?
Jason Martin: I like the process of putting together a record, and still enjoy just playing guitar.
This gives me a reason to do both.
BrandonIVM: The explosion of bands like yourself and the T&N label in early 90’s Southern California is
responsible for shaking up the norms and causing fans to reexamine their Faith and find meaning in this
broken world. How do you think Starflyer 59 fit in the whole grand scheme of things? What does it mean
when someone throws “Influence” and “Influential” in your general direction? How do you feel about
being our generation’s version of Morrisey and dare I say, Elvis?
Jason Martin: That’s nice of you, but I don’t really think I’m either.
Been doing this for a long time, just happy there are some people left that still enjoy the music.
BrandonIVM: Growing up here in So Cal, what were the biggest influences on your life at a young age?
Favorite artists that took a hold of your heart? What were some of the obstacles you had to conquer and overcome back in those days?
Do you feel that any obstacles remain at this current stage of your life?
Jason Martin: Christian bands like Daniel Amos, Lifesavers, Alter Boys, 441..It was a cool scene when I was young.
Going to shows with friends and my brother Ronnie. Everybody seemed like they were starting a band, so I did the same…. and here i am 30 years later:)
BrandonIVM: Some of those early to late 90’s Starflyer 59 albums also rank as favorites in my life. Those
albums were so diverse but also consisted of the unmistakable “Starflyer 59 sound”, what are some of
your favorite releases you created back in the 90’s? How do you feel looking back on “Gold” at almost
Jason Martin: To be honest I don’t really listen to my records much after they are done, listen to em so much when I’m making em i rarely go back to hear what was done.
Sometimes my kid will be online and show me a Starflyer song…Some of it sounds better than I remember, some of it not so much.
it is what it is, but I’m happy the records have meant something to people over the years.
BrandonIVM: “Leave Here a Stranger” was a masterpiece in and of itself, coming in after the new
millennium. I think it really captivated a whole fanbase and the scene at large. People don’t give enough
credit to you and this album. What are some favorite songs from that album and why do you think it still
resonates with fans to this day?
Jason Martin: I have not heard that album in a long long time, we were really trying to do something with that one, not sure if we captured it or not but I do like some of the songs.
Terry Taylor from Daniel Amos produced that record and had a lot to with the direction.
BrandonIVM: Some of your albums like “Talking Voice vs Singing Voice”, “Dial M”, and “My Island” were
a slight departure from prior albums. Do you have any favorite moments of that time period? What led
to this change in music and how do you feel about the albums now?
Jason Martin: I think it was a transition with the songs being more straight forward that I wanted to make. Dial M was written after my dad passed away so it always has a special place for me.
BrandonIVM: Starflyer 59 was never a band to completely tour for months on end. Do you miss any of
the show/touring life? What cities/states would you have wanted to play the most in your past? Can
fans expect to ever watch a live Starflyer 59 gig again? Will you ever consider playing one of these music
fests that promoters have been putting on lately?
Jason Martin: I don’t really miss the actual touring, but I do miss being young and being on the road with buddies, we had a lot of fun.
BrandonIVM: Back to the new album, “Young In My Head”. These songs take on a somber feel, an
almost mellow approach. It’s like the perfect combination of “The Fashion Focus”, “Everybody Makes
Mistakes” mixed with newer stuff like “Slow” and “IAMACEO”, and “Changing of the Guard”. I just feel
it’s that “perfect” album that holds all of your best qualities as a songwriter while continuing to move
forward. How do you feel about this new album? What are your favorite elements in it and what was it
like creating this album?
Jason Martin: Thanks man. It feels like a Starflyer record to me…Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…or something like that
BrandonIVM: Has your signature guitar sound changed at all in the past 25+ years of making music?
What guitars do you find most thrilling to play on and what amps do you enjoy playing out of?
Jason Martin: I still really enjoy surf tones, jazz masters, lots of reverb..But I also like playing dark riffs on an old Gibson…nothing much has changed for me in what I like over the years.
Im a bit of an old guitar collector, so what I’m playing kind of shapes the songs that I write with it.
BrandonIVM: Will there be more Vinyl reissues in the future of some of your past albums
(masterpieces)? Will “Gold” get the vinyl treatment like “Silver” did last year?
Jason Martin: Hoping to get all the old ones properly reissued.
BrandonIVM: You have used a variety of musicians on each recording and the cast of characters has
changed over the years. What guys and gals have you most enjoyed working with? Who recorded on
“Young In My Head” with you and what was that writing session like?
Jason Martin: Young had Steve Dail on bass, he’s been in the band since about 2007 I think.
I had my son Charlie play drums for the new record.
TW Walsh added some keys for the record as well.
BrandonIVM: The Prayer Chain recently came out of retirement to play a couple big shows at venues like
House of Blues Anaheim. Any chance we can see a Starflyer 59 live show at a similar venue with other
bands of that time period? Maybe like the ultimate (un)reunion gig? I’d pay money to watch Starflyer 59
rock out with the likes of Poor Old Lu, The Prayer Chain, Fielding, Black Eyed Sceva/Model Engine, Leigh
Nash, The Choir, and other bands from the past, maybe even current. I know it’ll never happen, but a
fan can dream, right? Would you ever consider it?
Jason Martin: Thanks man. I think I have lost my nerve to play live anymore, but we have talked about it…Maybe someday if the situation is right.
BrandonIVM: Can fans expect continued Starflyer 59 music releases into the near future? I think if you
can continue making music at this level of experience for the next several decades, us fans will be happy
and you’ll make even The Rolling Stones stare in disbelief, oh wait….
Jason Martin: There’s always something cooking in the works, I still enjoy making music and don’t see that changing any time soon.
Thank you for the interview Brandon.