As M&R Rush's front man, Paul Martin's self-effacing humor and everyman appeal get the audience's attention, but it's his unique vocal style and energy that are truly magnetic. Born in February, 1954, in Chicago, Martin moved to Cleveland at age 8. He started playing guitar at age 9, and when he returned to Chicago, met future bandmate Carl Moszur in the band "Hot Ice," eventually following Moszur to M&R Rush.
After high school, Martin honed his musical talent at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he studied guitar, piano and voice. As the spokesman for M&R Rush, Martin's all class: a classically trained musician with a classic Chicago style.
In 1983 Martin left M&R Rush to pursue other interests, but not long after was drawn to the stage again. His charisma and stage presence contributed to the overwhelming success of the band "The Dancing Noodles," which quickly became a Chicago-area favorite. He played with the Noodles until 1995.
Born to be in "show biz," Martin's definitely not all show. He's a consummate professional whose guitar playing and unique vocals cement the band's signature sound, and whose heart and soul make M&R Rush fans feel like family.
Paul plays Gibson and Peavey guitars and uses Peavey and Fender amps.
M&R Questions & Answers
What Do You Enjoy About Playing in M&R Rush:
The music, the fans, the energy, the dedication from everyone involved.
What Do You Want The Audience To Remember About a M&R Rush Concert:
The fun that they had while they were there and how all their troubles seemed to disappear for a few hours.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
I'm sure there's more that I can't remember.
What People Say About You:
Whatever it is, I'm sure I've been called worse.
Favorite Artists Past and Present:
Sammy Hagar, Paul Rogers, Joe Walsh, and countless others.
Disc or Player in the Player Right Now:
"The Best of Huey Lewis and The News"
If You Knew This Question Was Going To Be Asked What Would You Have In The Player:
"M&R RUSH" (the blue album)
What You Want People To Say About You:
"Rock and Roll has kept him young, I doubt that he will ever grow up."
Whatever I'm eating at the time. There's not much I don't like, or that I won't try.
What You Most Often End Up Eating:
McDonalds(maybe I can get an endorsement deal)--------------"I'M LOVIN IT"
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up:
GROW UP???? I don't think that will happen.
Place Of Birth:
Chicago--I love this town!
Interests, Hobbies, Outside Of M&R Rush:
Golf and kareoke.
What Car Do You Wish You Owned:
I like trucks.
Smirnoff & Iced Tea, shots---Jose Cuervo
First Rock Album:
"Got Live If You Want It" The Rolling Stones
Your Former Bands:
"Hot Ice"----with Carl and "The Dancing Noodles"
Most Disturbing Thing You've Seen During Your Years Of Playing:
A flashbox that went off accidentally in Don Pedigo's face while he was loading it.
How Long Have You Been Playing Your Instrument:
about 40 years (but not continuously)
Favorite M&R Rush Song:
"Reach for the Stars"
Last Concert You Saw:
I live in Chicago, so I tolerate them all.
Movies You Recommend:
I always forget the names of them. Think I answered this question already.
Regular or Decaff Coffee:
Neither--I gave it up.
How Do You Take Your Coffee:
Well, I take that back. Sometimes-"iced"
What Your Band Mates Say About You:
"Does he ever take anything seriously?"
Favorite Sports Team:
What You Watch On TV:
Sports, News, anything until I fall asleep.
Why You Play The Instrument You Play:
To get chicks!
What You Would Play If You Had To Choose a Different Instrument:
I don't know. That's too hard a question. Can we keep them easier?
Myself--I always think I can do better.
"FORGET ABOUT IT"
Most Embarrassing On-Stage Moment:
Thanks for bringing it up, I thought I was over it! I'd rather not talk about it.
What Do You Miss From Your Youth:
Favorite Day Of The Week:
Artist You Admire,
But Do Not Listen TO: Dave Matthews.
Coke or Pepsi:
Paper or Plastic:
Paper--I used to be a bagger at Jewel, before there was plastic.
Most Obscure Artist You Enjoy Listening To:
Artists People Would Be Surprised You Like:
Harry Conick Jr. & George Strait
Magazines You Enjoy:
Fine Homebuilding & Family Handyman
Ever Traveled Out Of The Country, Where:
No, unless you count Wisconsin?
Mustard or Ketchup:
Brothers and Sisters:
3 older sisters.
If You Went To A Casino, What Would You Play:
Roulette and/or slots.
Your Dream House:
An old one, with lots of character.
Leno or Lettermen:
Pisces---but it should be "SLOW----CHILD AT PLAY"
Skill That Most Aren't Aware Of:
Impressions and old jokes.
Musical Guilty Pleasure (Like It But Embarrassed To Admit It):
"The Beat Goes On--Switch Into Glide" The Kings
Favorite Vacation Destination:
My recliner with a cold beer.
Left or Right Handed:
PC Or Mac:
How Do You Like Your Eggs:
Steak Or Fish:
Steak, but I like fish too.
How Do You Like Your Steak:
Morning Or Night:
Morning for sleeping - Night for staying up
High School Sports:
Synchronized swimming and dodgeball
Dreams - In Color Or Black and White:
The answers I've given in this questionnaire.
Life On Other Planets:
I haven't traveled out of the country, so I'm not sure.
They're all nice.
Are you kidding? It's a zoo!! But I love my dog Toby.
Ideal Amount Of Sleep:
Just enough until I wake up.
Do You Still Own Any Albums:
OH YEA!! and a turntable too.
Bio Addition: Interview - Paul Martin
This is the last in a series if interviews with members of M&R Rush talking in depth about their music.
Let's start with your guitar. You currently play a Black Peavey guitar or a sunburst red Les Paul on tour. In the past you played a gold top Les Paul. What other guitars did you use?
In years past, I was always a Gibson Les Paul guy. A 1972 Gold Top that I bought at Douglas Music on 79th street in Chicago. Old Rockers will remember that place. A Black Custom Les Paul that was bought at the Music Crib on Southwest Highway in Oak Lawn (remember Gus?) And a '79 Cherry Sunburst which I purchased at Music Lab in Lansing IL. That guitar was owned and played by Roman Sawczak - our good friend and one of our first roadies - (remember him?) for many years and I always liked its sound and feel. I bought it as soon as I found out that he traded it in for another guitar. I've also played a Gibson SG Standard Jr. that I bought from a waitress at Ted's Warehouse in Charleston IL. and an Asskicker Flying 'V' that was custom made by George Blanda Jr. --- Yes he is the place kicker's son. But the black Peavy Generation Series I'm very comfortable with. In the early to mid 80's, a guitar tech at Music Lab named "Junior" would change my strings, file frets, wipe off the Tequila, you know, make it right. He was good. So good that he got a job with Peavy Guitars and his first project with them was the Peavy Generation Series, a Telecaster Prototype. I bought the first one to arrive at Music Lab and have been playing it ever since. I don't know if he knows that , but "THANKS JUNIOR".
Do you use any special effects?
Just a distortion box periodically for some crunch and punch. I don't need much more right now for our music.
I noticed you use many different amplifiers on stage....Everything from Peavy to a Fender Twin Reverb to Ampeg and even the King of Rock & Roll amplifiers, Marshall. Please elaborate on this.
I like to travel light. Right now I own a Peavy Special 130, which is a small but powerful amp with one 12" speaker. It will work for a small club or big concert hall. As long as I can hear my guitar thru my amplifier on stage I'm a happy camper. The Soundman can take over from there. I love the sound of the old Fender and Marshall Tube Amps. But things have come a long way. Give me 15 or 20 minutes to play with an amp and I'll get a sound that works for the night. I'm easy to please, let's just plug in and Rock!
Do you ever play an acoustic guitar for other musical projects or just for fun? What kind of acoustic guitars do you play?
I haven't played much acoustic lately but I've really tried to do so, whenever I can. I don't own a decent acoustic Guitar right now but I'll play whatever one you hand me. Playing an acoustic seems to help my vocal style. It's hard to explain. Does that make sense? It does to me.
Who influenced you as a guitarist or vocalist?
I'm easily influenced and always continue to be influenced. When I hear something I like, it doesn't matter who's performing it. But I guess as a Guitarist - Eric Clapton, BB King, Eddie VanHalen, and Chet Atkins are all innovators and unique in their own way. When it comes to Rock & Roll vocalists - Paul Rodgers, Rod Stewart, Sammy Hagar and John Mellencamp are tops and styles I've tried to emulate.
As a vocalist, I believe you have the most distinctive voice in the band.
Thank You Mike. I don't know why that is, but I've never thought I had a pretty voice. I've always said "Give me a ballad or a love song to sing and I'll definitely ruin it for you". I don't sing many slow songs.
It seems that you sing lead vocals on more songs that any other band member. Is this true?
I don't know a specific count, but in the last few years since the band has been back together, all the guys seem to think that my voice fits much of the music that we are playing and writing. But if someone else can knock out the part, more naturally - that's great. We just want it to sound good.
I don't know of any other band presently that has 5 lead vocalists. How do you feel sharing the spot light with John, Jeff, Carl and Roger?
Not At All! As a mater of fact I think their voices blend together better when mine is left out. I am always working on trying to harmonize better.
Your personality is really evident on stage. I mean this as a compliment; you front the band very well and a natural communicator between songs. This extends back to the old M&R days as well.
Thank You. I appreciate that. Here's my take on this. I am by no means a phenomenal guitarist, vocalist, or musician. I wish I were. But I'm also a performer. I've always been about the live show, the live entertainment. How many times have you heard some great new music, then you go to see the band, and it's a total letdown. Boring. Would Elvis had been "The King" if he wasn't entertaining?
Have you had any formal training for your voice or guitar?
Some voice lessons but not a lot, mostly breathing technique and word enunciation techniques. I got my first guitar when I was 8 and took lesson for several years. I can read music but don't do much of that lately. I took one year of classical guitar in college but was too consumed with Rock & Roll at the time to pay attention then. I've also taught guitar to beginners ....that's fun.
Is there a certain song that the band plays that you use as your own barometer to judge your singing or guitar playing?
All of them. If I'm not playing or singing each of them the best that I can. I shouldn't play them. But I love playing "Reach For the Stars."
What was the last bands or musicians you recently seen play live?
Local bands - Stevie Starlite, Drena Reign, Boyzz From Illinoizz. I enjoy going to clubs and seeing local acts.
Do you enjoy any other genres of music other than rock?
Oh yes... Blues, Gospel, Big Band - I guess just about everything.
Before I let you go, please tell me what CD's you have recently listened to at home or in the car - be honest.
Recently I've been rediscovering some old favorites - Kidd Rock, Billy Joel, Train and Bare Naked Ladies.
Thanks Mike for taking the time to do this interview project with the band. See you in June on our "Life Is Good" Tour.