Martin Zellar releasing Roosters Crow at Fine Line

Artists and bands alike rarely reach the age of maturity before they putter out or break up.  Not so for Austin, Minnesota native Martin Zellar -- who has been making music since the early '80s. 

Zellar will be releasing his first album of original music since 2003 after a hiatus that has seen him through growing pains and an ever-changing music scene. Currently living in Mexico, Martin will return to Minneapolis on Friday to release his latest album Roosters Crow at the Fine Line.

Gimme Noise spoke with the country-alt rocker prior to Friday's show.

Band Members: Martin Zellar, Nick Ciola, Scott Wenum

Gimme Noise: I hear a lot of country music influence in your music; how would you classify your music? 

I have a tough time describing my music, but I'm usually filed under Americana, singer-songwriter, or alt-country.

What did you listen to as a kid that drew you to this kind of music?

I mostly listened to the radio growing up. There were basically two stations in Austin,  one was country, and the other power rock. The country station was always on at work, and the rock station was usually on when I was hanging out with friends. I would also listen to WLS out of Chicago when the signal would come in. They would actually play some really cool stuff  in the middle of the night. 

I think everything I listened to had an influence on me. My tastes were, and still are, all over the place. I remember going to the JC Penney and buying Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell and Bob Dylan's Desire in the same trip. I think that pairing explains a lot about where I come from musically.

Your songs have such a unique storytelling element to them?  Where did you learn your song-writing style?

I think I learned something from everything I listened to, but it was listening to Bruce Springsteen that made me want to write songs.

You've released a few live albums in the previous years, but what was the reasoning behind the wait on a new album of originals?

 For a good chunk of that time, a serious problem with drugs and alcohol left me in no condition to produce anything of value. Then life just kept throwing things at me that took priority over music. Once I cleaned up and things slowed down, I was anxious to move forward again.

What was the story that you wanted to tell with Roosters Crow?

Many of the songs on the album reflect a pretty terrible period of my life, so I wasn't sure if it was a story I wanted to tell at all -- at least publicly. It was really hard to let go of some of these songs, but I'm glad I did. I think it's helped me move forward.

You've been in this business for a while.  How has it impacted how you've marketed your music? 

I don't think I've ever understood how this business works, but I feel even more out of touch than I did ten years ago. I'm an independent artist without a lot of money to promote myself. I spend what money I have to hire people to take care of the business and marketing end of things, then I go out and play and hope something good happens.

What was it like as a young artist trying to get their music heard?  What advice do you have for up-and-coming artists looking to make a name for themselves?

I guess I would tell young musicians to do it because you love it and couldn't imagine doing anything else. I started out with no real plans or expectations. I just went out and played whenever and wherever I could. Along the way I got really lucky, caught some breaks, and things worked. Thank god it did, because I really couldn't imagine doing anything else. I'm also not qualified to do anything else.

How did you come to conclusion to have the CD release at the Fine Line, and what can we expect at the show?

 Decisions like that are made by committee. It's gotten harder and harder to figure out when and where to play, and how to get my fans out to shows. A lot of them have kids and busy lives, and they just don't go out as often. We're still feeling our way through this.

Martin Zellar will release Roosters Crow with Ben Weaver at the Fine Line Music Cafe on Friday, February 10, 2012.
21+, $15, 8 pm

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