Talking 'Cholo Soul' with S.A. Martinez of 311

Categories: interview

Photo by Alexander Ferzan, courtesy of Los Stellarians management.
S.A. Martinez doesn't have time to rest. After completing another annual three-month summer stint with 311, (this year marks the band's tenth consecutive summer tour), Martinez hopes to finish three albums of his own before 311 sets sail on a fan cruise to Jamaica.

Martinez's new solo project, Los Stellarians, with Ghostwolf bandmate Ryan Siegel is an homage to Lowrider culture and overlooked Soul music from the 1970s. Cholo Soul, their debut album featuring covers of some of Martinez's favorite tunes, drops August 26.

We caught up with S.A. while he was on the road with 311 to discuss his upcoming albums, his love of James Brown, and his not-so-secret Instagram account. 311 fans may be surprised to learn which U.S. city most tugs on his heart strings.

See also: 311's Nick Hexum Reveals Even More Details About New Album 'Stereolithic'

OC Weekly (Jena Ardell): Los Stellarians: I like that. Is the name a play on old band names from the 70s?

S.A. Martinez: In a way it is, yeah. Back in the '60s, there was that band Question and the Mysterians and, y'know, like the car the DeLorean. (Laughs). There's something to it. Just throwing the 'Los' in the front. There are tons of bands, especially from back in the day, that might have had that in their band name so it's kind of reaching for that a bit.

How did you select songs for the album?

I've got an incredible record collection and I've been collecting obscure Soul for the past 27 years, and a couple years back I was thinking, 'I need to cover some of these songs' because, outside of the record collecting community, they're not really that well-known. In that community, they're fairly well-known, but outside of that--nothing. So I just wanted to do versions of these songs. 311 has such an incredible fan base; I thought, 'they're going to love it.' Basically, I selected songs that I would love to do and an album that I would love to buy and play all the time. [Cholo Soul] would be 'If I'm going to have a party, I'm going to put this record on because this is the vibe that everyone's going to get into it and have a great time.'

Outside of your own catharsis, are you trying to shed new light on under-appreciated songs?

Absolutely. In this country, there's so much Soul music. You had countless acts, mostly regional things, and a lot of these acts never broke out. A lot of them only had a couple songs or enough money to just record a 45--forget a full-length--and a lot of it was just done for vanity, like, 'I just wanted a copy.' There's just so much of it out there and I thought, it's one thing to appreciate it and it's another thing to, like you're saying, shed light onto it and give it value, like it deserves. It's underappreciated, in my opinion, not because of any rhyme or reason, but because we have so much music to filter through these days and a lot of the older stuff gets lost.

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