Voices of Metal: Eddie Martinez
Written by Brett Kihlmire
For some people heavy metal is just music, but for others it’s a way of life. Some of us are motivated by little else than some heavy music and decide to make it our life. One such person is Milwaukee-based vocalist, Eddie Martinez.
Growing up in Detroit, Eddie was exposed to a great deal of pop, Motown, and Latin music giving him an early appreciation for music, especially the work of Elvis Presley. One of his best memories of rock’n’roll, however, came from meeting a session drummer for Bob Segar, who introduced him to rock music such as the Beatles and Bob Segar. He would later attend his first concert with his older brother and was blown away by the electric performance of the legendary Queen.
Growing up with a steady diet of rock’n’roll, Eddie couldn’t get enough of bands like AC/DC, Ted Nugent and Foreigner, seeing every concert he could. Over time he got into the edgier stuff like Judas Priest and Motley Crüe, and eventually got hooked on progressive metal.
By age 19, Eddie formed his first band. After a few years he decided he needed something more serious, leading him to join Silent Scream. After a year of just scraping by in Detroit, the band decided to relocate to Milwaukee and Eddie followed.
Getting your feet on the ground in a new scene is never an easy task, but Silent Scream managed with the help of established local talent, Such Is Life. Playing numerous gigs with their local allies, Eddie and the other members of Silent Scream steadily worked their way around the scene and got their names known.
“It was kind of cool coming to a whole different city where a scene was happening, because at the time in Detroit there wasn’t anything going on. It was all rhythm and blues, so there wasn’t a lot of places to play there.”
Doing well to get his name known in the Milwaukee rock and metal scene, when Eddie eventually split with Silent Scream, he quickly formed a new band with two of the scene’s metal mainstays.
“I was with Silent Scream for about two and half years here. That band split up and then I got into a bit more of an edgier project. I was in a band called Monster Island. It had Brian Bolle and DeWayne Bolle, who are now in A Tortured Soul. Those guys were awesome,” Eddie says warmly of his former bandmates.
Armed with a heavy and melodic sound, Monster Island put out some tracks as part of a local compilation series and found some moderate success around town due to their unique sound for the time.
“My voice tends to be a little more on the melodic side, so we were kind of like a really heavy Dream Theater. It was really technical and progressive and angry then you had my voice. It was a little ahead of its time.”
Eddie eventually split with Monster Island due to the band wanting to something with a harder metal edge, and he would go on to join Dimension X, which was another progressive style band. Eddie jokingly described the band as “Dream Theater on crack” due to the band featuring numerous conservatory trained musicians.
“It made me really look inside myself and think, ‘alright, are you really going to be able to hang with these guys?’” he says of elite training behind Dimension X, and hang he did. In fact, he greatly impressed the band with his songwriting and vocal ability.
Fitting in perfectly with Dimension X, Eddie was well on his way to living his rock’n’roll dreams, but was ultimately forced to resign due to family obligations and his wife’s firm belief that music wasn’t something an adult should be doing. As a result, Eddie was forced to part ways with music as a whole and took a five year hiatus.
“It was detrimental to what I wanted to do. The whole reason I came here was music.”
After his divorce, Eddie got back into music and put together a band called Ugly Dog Contest, which had a blues meets Rush and Led Zeppelin style. As for the name, they took inspiration from a news story about a “really ugly dog named Sam” that was winning dog contests. Though it started a joke, the band took on the name and even scored the right to use Sam’s likeness for the band. Unfortunately, the dog died a few weeks later.
“We killed Sam!” Eddie jokes about the dog’s unfortunate fate.
The dog that inspired the band’s name dying shortly after formation was the least of the band’s worries. Just as the band started scoring gigs the drummer walked out on the band. Despite yet another setback, Eddie stayed true to his dream to be a musician. So, while between bands he made a habit of performing karaoke, earning himself quite the following – so much to the point that people told him to form a cover band.
An original musician through and through, Eddie initially resisted the idea of forming a cover band. Eventually, his urge to just rock the stage overpowered him and he formed his first cover band, Shinola, which played modern hard rock covers like Sixx A.M and Shinedown. Though the band was relatively successful, playing the some bigger local shows, the band eventually split up. Frustrated, Eddie seriously considered walking away from music for good. What changed his mind was a call from the popular cover band, Category X.
An established band with a decade together at the time Eddie was tapped for lead vocalist, Category X easily roped Eddie in due to their stability and ability to play the big stages like the famed Summerfest.
Around the same time that he was contemplating joining Category X or walking away from music, Eddie was kicking around the idea for another cover band. This band, featuring Andy Martin of Conniption, would become Milwaukee’s only Motley Crüe tribute band, Motley Brüe.
“I gotta say, the Motley Brüe stuff is the hardest stuff I’ve ever done as far as physically and delivering. Being in progressive metal bands where it’s the time changes and whatnot, it was demanding because you had to be very wary but with Motley Brüe, Vince Neil’s tone stays at a certain range.”
Rather than simply playing Motley Crüe songs, Eddie and Motley Brüe go to the extreme to match the energy and style of each Motley Crüe tune, specifically, which has helped the band stand out as a tribute act instead of a simple cover band.
Though a cover band as well, Category X has become the music outlet Eddie has been looking for all of these years. Being that Milwaukee is “the cover capital of the country,” Category X consistently draws big crowds, as does Motley Brüe.
“Both bands are going strong. Motley Brüe, I don’t even have to book the band. I get calls from venues,” Eddie says with pride. “But even Category X, as established as it is, I still have to sell it. It’s crazy.”
Finding success with both Category X and Motley Brüe, Eddie’s been with both bands for four years and sees no end in sight. So, after three decades of rocking hard, Eddie can say he’s finally found lasting success with music.
“Both bands are appealing to me because they’re different from each other. I think that’s why I’ve stayed with them for so long.”
Though he’s tried to start an original band here and there for another creative outlet, Eddie has largely kept his focus on Category X and Motley Brüe. Of course, the urge to get some original music out again won’t simply go away. As such, Eddie plans to put out a solo album featuring stack of unused material he’s written over the years. And even if the solo project takes a backseat to Motley Brüe and Category X, he’s just happy to add one more musical achievement to an already extensive list.