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article imageChatting with Joe Martin Jr. of the FDNY rock group AfterBurn Special

By Markos Papadatos     Feb 13, 2019 in Music
Joe Martin Jr., the front-man of the FDNY rock group AfterBurn chatted with Digital Journal about their plans for 2019, their background as firefighters and how technology has changed the music business.
On the origin of their band name AfterBurn, he said, "It was partially out of frustration and as a joke. I was watching the Discovery channel, and how they remove the old fighter jet engines while I was talking to the drummer on the phone about choosing a band name. The show talked about the process of putting the jet engines into afterburner mode, so I mentioned it."
He continued, "It seemed a good enough name for an all-firefighter band and simple enough to remember. A band's music is what eventually defines their name. Besides, Led Zeppelin was already taken."
Firefighting and helping others runs through his bloodline. "My father was an FDNY firefighter in Harlem through the '60s and I knew what I wanted to be when I was 3 years old. Jump ahead to 1978 and Van Halen's first album was released. Things change."
He continued, "After September 11, and the deaths of two close firefighter brothers, the realization of there being no promise of a tomorrow made me want to do everything I never had a chance to do. I missed playing in a band and writing music. That was when the search for band members began."
Each day, his music is inspired by "everyday life, people. incidents and emotions." "It could be a TV commercial or a funny meme. With two songwriters in the band, there is never a lack of new material flowing through at rehearsals," he said. "Life in the fire department," he added.
Regarding his plans for the future, he said, " Just trying to line up shows and getting our music heard by people that haven't seen us live or heard our music yet. It's hard when you're an independent band to get your foot in the door in a lot of places, but we like a challenge."
Digital transformation of the music business
He feels that technology has changed the music industry substantially, especially streaming services such as iTunes and Spotify. "It's great for us, music fans, and it can also help get music heard and recognized if a band is creative in their promotion," he said. "It's definitely less lucrative for the artists, making it that much more difficult for musicians and bands to make music their sole income source."
Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine as a rocker, he said, "Promoting the band and running the numerous band social accounts for one, contacting promoters and venues to line up gigs, and also for recording and 'writing' down new song ideas."
He also feels "great" about the recent passage of the Music Modernization Act, especially since it protects songwriters and creators and how they are compensated for their song usage, and the rights to use their own musical material. "It's a job well done," he said.
For aspiring bands and rock musicians, he said, "Learn a craft or a trade to make your living. That's good to fall back on. Never ever quit pursuing your music no matter what the naysayers dish out. If you have two or three people that believe in you and your music, then that is a great start."
Growing up, he revealed that his older sister, Donna, had the greatest record collection, which was comprised of such artists as Elvis Presley, Cream, Deep Purple, progressive group Yes, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, among others. "Van Halen's first album, Ozzy's first two solo albums with Randy Rhoads, and AC/DC's Highway to Hell and Back in Black made me want to learn to play guitar. There was nothing like any of them, all game changers in the rock and roll world back then or today," he explained.
To learn more about AfterBurn and their music, check out their official homepage and their Facebook page.
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