Hi-Fi Drowning’s Eric Martin returns to a Dallas stage
It’s been almost a decade since musician Eric Martin last performed on a Dallas stage. On April 30, after playing in three bands, several solo projects and a stint in New York, the Dallas-based singer and songwriter returns to play a special set with an array of well-known Dallas musicians at Sundown at Granada. A career musician, music teacher and music production manager, Martin has fronted several influential bands, such as Memory Shivers, Heart Eyes Open and the ever-popular Hi-Fi Drowning.
Hi-Fi Drowning consisted of brothers Jon and Jeremy Eggert, Carlos Jackson and Martin. Early on, the band developed a reputation as the loudest, loudest and most experimental project in Dallas. Hi-Fi Drowning has been revered by musicians and critics. MTV.com previously ran an article hailing them as America’s answer to Blur, helping propel Dallas’ distinctive brand of space rock onto the national stage.
Flickerstick, Chomsky, Secret Machines and Hi-Fi Drowning were getting major label attention and ready for the national stage. Hi-Fi’s opportunity came in the form of a development deal with MCA Records. In 1999, after signing, the band flew to Chicago for six weeks to work with producer Keith Cleversly (Spiritualized, The Flaming Lips) and record their first offering, Narci Darvish.
After successfully releasing the album, the band amicably parted ways with original drummer Carlos Jackson and enlisted powerhouse musician Taylor Young from The O’s. This line-up with Young on drums dramatically elevated the band’s musicality as the band entered the studio to record their follow-up, Around the Rosareleasing the album in 2002.
Twenty years later, Around the Rosa remains one of Dallas’ most influential and spectacular albums of the past two decades. A village of prominent and influential musicians, including brothers Todd and Toby Pipes of Deep Blue Something, Austin-based producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith of The Bubble, Taylor Tatch and even Stuart Sikes of White Stripes, helped shape the 10 songs. opus who is Around the Rosa. The album is a journey in sound texture, positions and melody. An elusive album, it was a true testament to the work ethic of local musicians at their best.
Where there’s a community of artists who genuinely care about each other, there’s a big, thriving scene. — Eric Martin
“The community has always created and helped everyone involved. Where there’s a community of artists who genuinely care about each other, there’s a big, thriving scene,” says Martin.
While Todd and Toby Pipes are credited with producing the album at the famed BPL studios they once owned, it was Chris “Frenchie” Smith who brought his signature sonic chaos to Hi-Fi Drowning.
“It really is a great record, and if only me and Hi-Fi had done it together, we would have focused more on noise and mayhem. Todd and Toby had a real pulse on balance,” Smith says . “They chaperone the group and anchor the album in a more timeless work”
The album took well over two years to write, record and mix with many versions swapped between the band, the producers and a man known as “The Count” in San Francisco doing the final mixing. It was recorded on 2 inch tape, adding to that warm aura that prevails throughout, which the Pipes Brothers were known for.
“Around the Rosa wasn’t going to be done without the belief of Todd and Toby Pipes in the band,” Martin says. were blown away to see them there. It was later that we started working with them, but that’s really how the relationship with Deep Blue Something and us started.
Before the recording process began, Martin and the Eggert brothers moved into a house together, playfully named “The Ponderosa” after a trailer park adjacent to a 1970s roller rink. The Ponderosa which the band wrote and rehearsed day and night for release.
“The origins of this sound are that the band rubs shoulders with each other all the time,” Smith explains. “There was a constant adaptation in the way they played together.”
Martin drew on stream-of-consciousness writings and puns when working on the lyrics.
“A lot of songs about Pink were written in the backyard of The Ponderosa with candles, clippings and my little tape recorder,” says Martin. “I’ve always been drawn to more abstract music and art. Sometimes too much realism in a song locks in a person’s imagination.
Shortly after Around the Rosa came out, the band broke up as Jon and Jeremy Eggert moved to the West Coast, Taylor Young finished college and started the O’s hit with John Pedigo, and Martin branched out into other musical projects and briefly in New York.
“It was a moment in time, four guys coming together and making amazing music,” Toby Pipes said. “We were all so excited to do what we were doing and I think it shows on the record.”
While obsession with ’90s music culture floats free these days — like Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s special appearance on Billie Eilish’s Coachella set — it’s hard to forget the decade of music from Dallas that sent major label reps into a feeding frenzy. While most bands have quit and traded guitars for insurance plans and 401(k), there remains serious interest in what happened here decades ago. The Flickerstick reunion show, slated for June at The House of Blues, sold out in just days. The DFW Legacy Series continues to release and sell vinyl albums from this period. The demand for this music has never been greater, and 20 years after the fact, Hi-Fi Drowning’s Around the Rosa has recently been added to Apple Music and all other streaming platforms for the occasion. As a music teacher, Martin is amazed at what his students want to learn on the guitar.
“Everything in art, fashion and music is cyclical. I teach guitar and voice and have been blown away when students in their late teens… want to learn the Sonic Youth albums, My Bloody Valentine and Slow Dive. With music, you can now experience it all on YouTube,” says Martin.
After years underground, Martin is ready for his next chapter. For him, getting back into the arena and performing shows again is an exercise in patience, gratitude and redemption.
“I was in a state of personal renewal. For the first time, I feel like I have enough control on stage, personally, spiritually and emotionally to do this,” Martin says.
Eric Martin with Chris Norwood performs at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 30 at Granada Sunset, 3520 Greenville Ave. Tickets for the 21 and over show are $10.