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Fast Heart Mart's Martin Stamper marches to the beat of a different mutant
By Jessica Cassyle Carr and Laura Marrich
Little did you know that Martin Stamper, half the guts behind enigmatic acoustic duo Fast Heart Mart, is the reluctant parent of his own record label, which will be on display at the New Year's Eve Mutant Mariachi showcase at the Blue Dragon. Bet you didn't know he has a pacemaker, either.
What is it like having a pacemaker?
It's not easy being an indestructible super hero with a defibrillator/pacemaker. I usually describe the feeling to mortals as "when you get that magic potion in a video game that makes you indestructible no matter what you do, but you know it's too good to last forever." But, invincibility is not my only power.
How did the "trash packaging" for your latest release, The Red Record, come about?
Conservation is one of my other powers. I can build things out of materials that were going to be thrown away. I like to think of my trash packaging as cutting the hide off corporate America and displaying it like a trophy or a leather jacket.
How did you get so good?
I started out and remain a street musician. That is where I learned to sing loud and perform.
How did Fast Heart Mart morph from a band powered by electricity into an acoustic arrangement? Do you ever think you'll go back to playing electric guitar?
I never did play electric "gitar" People might have thought I did because the songs are so raucous. I always liked the idea of being able to play anywhere like the mariachis. That is the premise of "Fast Heart Mart"... to be able to perform completely acoustically, "anytime, anywhere."
Where does Fast Heart Mart typically play?
We prefer intimate settings: parties, lounges, coffee shops, public spaces.
Who and what instruments are the band comprised of?
I play acoustic guitar. I like using alternate tunings and a slide. I also sing and play harmonica. My new drummer, Roblyn, plays only a snare and hi-hats. And she sings. She is on my latest CD, The Red Record. We play the streets whenever we can. She is the only other member of my band right now.
What are the songs about?
I still find myself writing about the same things I always have: quitting my job, dropping out of society, the Southwest and anything else but love.
Name Fast Heart Mart's releases.
The Red Record (2005 Mutant Mariachi), Heart & Soul (2001 Kieth Werblow), Hobos In Limbo (2002 Little Kiss) and The Movie Theatre (2003 Casual Sounds). Some people still like my old recordings: For financial reasons, they've been out of print for a while. I plan on reprinting some in the upcoming year.
How was your Mutant Mariachi record label founded?
Like most independent musicians, I have learned to do a lot of things. Most recently, I have learned to be a quasi-recording engineer. Though I'm still skeptical of my recording skills, The Red Record has sold well and has received a great response. People say, "I like it because it sounds a lot like what you really sound like ... it's not overproduced." I think The Red Record is my most honest-sounding, true-to-life record yet. It's the closest I've come to actualizing the sound I've been striving to get for the last six years. One band, The Saltine Ramblers, liked the new record's production so much they wanted to be on my so-called "label." I'm reluctant to declare it a real record label, but sometimes the best things happen by accident. Real record labels pay and promote their bands and provide them with high-quality recordings. All Mutant Mariachi has to offer is low-budget recordings that tend to sound much more honest than the mainstream is used to.
What are the other bands on the label like? What are the Mutant Mariachi releases?
The Red Record was the first to be completed in 2005. We plan on releasing several recordings in 2006. The first is another Fast Heart Mart release called The Green Machine, which is due on April 21. My bluegrass band, Hobos in Limbo, will have a CD of original material. The Saltine Ramblers will have a full-length album; and we're also releasing a record from a band called The Odd World Nothings, made up of some preteen kids who play hyper-rock. Mutant Mariachi is hosting bands that don't fit anywhere else ... and mostly bands that can play unamplified if they want or need to. Playing unamplified is becoming more important as we get closer to the apocalypse.
Is the New Year's Eve Mutant Mariachi Showcase the first ever?
Yes. This is the first time we've all played together on the same bill. I'm excited to play at the Blue Dragon for New Year's Eve. Norm has opened up a new room for performances over there and it's a lot bigger. Norm has always been one of my favorite performers. He will be playing a set and sitting in with different groups. Adam is a young local musician who is going to take the world by storm someday. My bluegrass band Hobos in Limbo is also performing that night. So is the band I play drums for, Mother Engine. The Saltine Ramblers will play their brand of music (bluegrass meets alt.country). Other surprise guests will be performing as well.
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