Friday, April 16, 1999

Latin rockers deserve embellishment
by Rob Harvilla

You can't just arbitrarily slap an exclamation point at the end of your band's name. You have to earn it.

The young studs in the jazzy Latin-flavored rock trio Martizatic! certainly deserve a little embellishment. They have, after all, proclaimed themselves "Athens' Sexiest Band."

All in jest, of course, although "Athens Most Prolific Band" might fit just as well. A wealth of experience resides among this trio of Nate Olah on drums, Dan Dreifort on guitar and vocals and Adam Schoen on bass and vocals. Dreifort cut his teeth with Heroin Dog and Our Smiling Jesus Band, while Schoen found a home with Hot Box Lunch.

These days, one can find Martizatic! on stage almost every weekend, unless, of course, Dreifort is occupied with his other band, the Cactus Pears. What's more, the two bands share a bill tonight at the Casa Cantina. Free time, anyone?

"Playing music is what I think we all love to do," explains Dreifort, as his bandmates nod in agreement.

Things initially revved up during Fall Quarter, when Dreifort and Schoen jammed for a while before picking up Olah, who wins the award for best former band name (Harrison Fjord).

Olah brought a distinctive jazz sound to the band's rock-oriented tunes - the two styles meshed instantly, and within five weeks Martizatic! hammered out an eight-song demo.

This intense focus doesn't come at the expense of their more experimental side. On stage, Martizatic! favors loose grooves with plenty of room for spontaneity. Special guests (the Beatdowns' horn section, for example) are always welcome. And watch out for those drum solos.

"It's musical freedom that works," Schoen explains. Olah agrees, insisting "there's a science to the madness." Perhaps, but this science certainly can't be summarized in a periodic table.

Lyrically, the band breaches familiar topics (ex-girlfriends, passage into adulthood) with occasional dives into uncharted territory. "Susan Smith" takes its name from the South Carolina woman convicted of drowning her two children in the family minivan.

Such somber subject matter compels the listener to "hear it and know that it's about something real, not something generic," Schoen explains.

Overall, allegiance to the music drives Martizatic!, not profits or glory. The band often turns their live show earnings over to the out-of-town band, and a demo will only set you back a dollar. All the studs in Martizatic! really ask is that you show up, absorb the music and have a good time. Sexy, indeed.

Martizatic hits the Casa stage at about 10 p.m. tonight. Stick around for the Cactus Pears. Cover is $3.