ALBANY — One Red Martian is emerging on the Albany music scene.
The indie rock quartet is releasing its new album “Late” on its own record label, Just Pretend Records, and they’re starting to play out after taking two years to record, including a performance at this weekend’s MOVE Music Festival in Albany.
“Everything has been leading up to us putting out an album that we can then stand on as a solid foundation,” said keyboardist/vocalist Dan DeKalb. “So ever since we moved here two years ago, we became obsessed with recording. We knew that whatever we were going to do next, we were going to record ourselves. So, there was a long period of trial and error and being really obsessed with engineering our own thing. We haven’t been playing out much at all.”
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One Red Martian’s members have known each other for far longer than two years. Brothers Jimi (lead guitar/vocals), Ben (bass) and Joseph Woodul (drums) grew up in Herkimer County and went to school with DeKalb, and they’ve been playing together since they were teens.
“We all started listening to our parents’ music, like a lot of classic rock – the Beatles, the Rolling Stones,” said Jimi Woodul. “And then when we were teenagers, the pop punk-emo thing was happening, so we had that in our wheelhouse for a while.”
“When (Green Day’s) ‘American Idiot’ came out … like, I think it was mandatory, everyone had to listen to that album for a six-month period,” added Ben Woodul.
The band played around the Utica/Herkimer area for a while before making a bold move to Dallas after high school, where they learned the difference between a small town music scene and a big city scene.
“Where we were from, we were kind of like a big fish in a small pond type of thing,” said Jimi. “And then, when you really get out there in the world, we saw a lot of really good bands.”
“There were specific bands that we ran into that were our age essentially, but much tighter than we were,” said Joseph Woodul. “And that really lit a fire under our ass in certain ways in terms of curbing our progressive (rock) interests and becoming more pop oriented again.”
One Red Martian recorded and released an album while they were in Dallas, but things began to fall apart for them around 2012.
“There were things that had happened that made the band kind of reassess the importance of what we were doing,” said DeKalb. “We were kind of in a crisis for a while, for personal reasons.”
“Dallas was a great learning experience, but I think in a lot of ways, it wasn’t nurturing of what we were trying to do,” said Ben. “There is a music scene in Dallas, but it’s much more on the metal side. And everything was so spread out. It was almost too big. It’s hard to get that sense of community going, too, where in Albany it might be a smaller scene, but you end up running into the same people and you get to know who that scene is actually made up of.”
Eventually, the band moved back north to Albany, where they began writing and recording “Late.” Rather than pay someone else to engineer the album, they decided to record it themselves. At first, they attempted to track each part individually, but they soon realized that they needed to play as four people in one room.
“We listened back to some of our older recordings that … something about them we really liked,” said Ben. “Ultimately, what we liked about them was they had a certain je ne sais quoi from being live that we just weren’t getting (from tracking individually).”
Jimi Woodul wrote the lyrics for all but two of the 12 songs on “Late.” As the band’s primary songwriter, he said he wanted to make certain the lyrics could stand on their own.
“I’ve always been really obsessed with the lyrics of things,” said Jimi. “If the song can be great with just one instrument and someone singing over it, then that’s what I consider to be classic songwriting. If it doesn’t have great lyrics, I won’t follow through.”
Once the lyrics were complete, Jimi brought the songs to the band with some general ideas of what the melody and the chords should be, and together they created a sonic landscape that ranges from quiet introspection to vibrant pop.
While they were recording, One Red Martian holed itself up in the studio. The band members supported themselves by taking day jobs, but they didn’t start playing out until “Late” was complete. Their first gig in the Albany area came in February when they opened for the Chronicles at the Madison Theater. A hometown show in Utica and a March showcase at McGeary’s followed.
“It feels really, really good to be playing in front of people again because … we’ve been kind of in a cave for the last two years with this stuff and working really hard to make that moment special when people see it — especially people that are still connected with us from way earlier on,” said DeKalb.
One Red Martian’s next show is an hour-long set Friday at the Fuze Box, 12 Central Ave., as part of the MOVE Music Festival.
“We’re excited as people can be about playing the MOVE Music Festival. We’re just ready to play,” said DeKalb.
After that, the band members said they plan on getting their songs to radio stations, making music videos and playing as often as they can.
“We’re trying to get momentum going, and we’re trying to figure out ways that we can keep content coming, whether it’s new recordings or it’s new music videos,” said Ben. “If you’re interested in tuning in, there’s going to be something new coming your way to check out.”