JOHN ARTHUR MARTINEZ
Do you still maintain any contact with the other contestants?
Yes, I do. If fact, I keep in contact regularly with Buddy Jewell, who was my roommate on Nashville Star. In fact, Buddy has kindly sent an email out to all of his fans telling them to get off the couch and go buy my new CD which is very nice. One of my recent trips to Nashville, I went with my buddy Prentice Varnin. Recently Anne Louise Blythe and Amy Chappell were doing a showcase in Nashville, so I went there with some of my other Nashville Star buddies including the producer Dave Parks.
Where do you find the ideas and inspirations when writing songs?
Those are everywhere. We find them everywhere. They're basically growing on trees. They're floating in the air. They're the throwaway comments that a friend will say that spark an idea. They're lines in books. They're words from the big screen. They're just everywhere. The ones that really move me, of course, are those that I have a tangible relationship with. If it's an idea that I have lived or feel, then those are the easiest to write.
What is your favorite song that you have written and why?
Would you ask a mother what her favorite child was? (laugh) Boy, that's tough. Could you imagine (like in my grandmother's days when they had 11 or 12 kids), telling her to pick which one was her favorite? It'd be tough. I will tell you that there are a few that are really dear to me that I've felt where directly gifts. They're all gifts from above but there was one called "The Man Who Holds the Bow," that is the first song on my new album, "Lone Starry Night." Just when I finished writing it, I felt this incredible, spiritual feeling overcome me. There have been other songs like "If I didn't care" that I wrote with Monty Wardon and Tommy Conners where I have felt the same. A song like that where I wrote it for my daughters. If you recall my story, I married a packaged deal. I married a women with 3 girls and a son already so I wrote it for them.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the music industry?
First of all, you have to make sure that you are completely dedicated to the task of being the best singer, songwriter, and performer that you can possibly be. And, if you are certain that you are completely dedicated to that, then you have to be persistent and you have to have the attitude that 'whether I get rich at it or whether I stay poor' this is what God has called me to do and I don't have any choice. That's how I feel about my music. I may not ever sell the numbers that Garth Brooks has sold or even the numbers that Buddy Jewell has sold. But then again, I have a greater opportunity than someone who is just doing the open mics around Nashville. No matter what, I'm still going to do this for the rest of my life.
How would you describe the whole process of recording your new album?
It was really a tremendous thing to get to work with a producer like Matt Rollings. A guy like Matt Rollings brings to the table- the experience of having done records with Keith Urban, Terry McBride & the Ride, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Lyle Lovette. Of course, all of those artists I have described to you are all completely different. He understands that every artist is different. He tries to find what is unique about that artist and enhance the best qualities of that artists' music. I feel that Matt Rollings did that. He did that with my respect of my opinion in regards to almost every decision made in recording the album, so it was phenomenal to do that and to work with the finest musicians in the world. Victor Kraus on the bass. Larry Franklin on the fiddle. Dan Dougmore on the steel. There resumes aside; they're just phenomenal human beings. And, then you have folks who are part of it from Texas- like my co-writer Mike Blagley on harmonies. Joelle M (the great accordion who has won many Grammy's.) So, it was a nice blend of what the best of Nashville has to offer with the colorings of my home state.
What is a typical day in the studio like for you?
A typical day in the studio begins with coffee with the producer, musicians, and engineer. Then, the discussion of what we want to try to accomplish. Then, the creativity part. Of course, that is the best part. Where you say, "Well, maybe this intro should be 8 bars instead of 4 bars. Or maybe, the solo should be handled by a mandolin instead of the electric guitar this time. Right here, we should add some percussion to give it a rhythmic lift. All of those things make it fun to be in the studio and to be creative. It's like you have this blank canvas and you have this paint store (art supply store) next door. You can use any of the supplies you want on that canvas. It's just an amazing process.
What is your favorite song on this album and why?
That's a tough one too. I would have to say that I feel like I delivered my best vocal performance in "Home Made Of Stone" on this album. As far as the songwriting is concerned, I think "The Man Who Holds The Bow" or "Lone Starry Night" are lyrically some of my best pieces. With that said, I think I'm most moved emotionally whenever I perform "If I didn't care."
What goals have you accomplished and what do you still want to accomplish with your music career?
I've accomplished quite a few goals over the years. I've been a part of a Grammy winning project before Nashville Star as a contributing songwriter. (An album by Flaco Heminis that he did with Roll Mollow of the Mavericks.) And, I have had a chance to share my music on National television with, what at first I thought was just the United States but I realized it is a hug part of the world. Nashville Star was rebroadcast in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Canada. It's amazing the reach of the show. I feel good about having had the opportunity to share my songs with that many people. With that said, in order for me to be successful with Dual Tone, it is a business so I will have to sell a significant amount of units for them to recoup their investment. It's a huge burden to have because you have a company and a family, band members, co-writers, and a producer. All of whom are depending on your success for their paychecks. Not to mention your management. It's a huge burden. My next goal is to sell enough units so these people can see a profit. I would love to win a Grammy for Song of the Year one day. I guess those are a few of the goals.
What is your motivation behind your accomplishments?
It's more of just what I said. I feel like I'm the starting pitcher on the baseball team. I want to be successful for the whole team. I want to be successful for my wife, and I want to be successful for my community. I want to be successful so that other young Hispanics can see that hey, my love of country music can also translate into a career in country music. I want to be successful for my management and for my agents that put me at William Morris. The whole team.
I love your version of "Amarillo by Morning." Why did you decide to put it on your album?
I had already been performing that song for quite some time before Nashville Star. I used this song to audition for Nashville Star. We had to do an acapella song in the local competitions. And, that was a song that was part of that audition. Prior to Nashville Star, I had played it at some events where radio people were involved. They said "You need to record that and if you were to record that, I'd play that." They're talking about my bilingual version of the song. So, for all of those reasons plus the folks at the label loved it. I guess there are quite a few things.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
I'd love to write, record, and produce an album with Rodney Crowell because he is the confident singer, songwriter, producer, and musician.
Is there anything you would like to say to all your fans reading this?
I would just like to tell them: That if they want to help further me in my career, the best thing is just letting a friend hear the music. Whether it is while they are driving in their car, or sending an email to a close friend about my music. Word of mouth is the best way to help my career. I want to let them know that until it becomes absolutely, physically impossible, I want to try to respond to every one of their emails. I know at the end of last year during Nashville Star, it became physically impossible for me, Buddy, and Miranda to respond to every email just because of time limitations. Whenever possible, I still want to try to respond to every fan. If for some reason you have ever sent me something and I haven't responded, chances are it's on my list of emails that I haven't caught up with. It may have got lost in the shuffle. Please resend me one and I'd be glad to respond to it.
Thank you for the interview!