Gonzo's Toybox

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Stuart Martin

How it started:  Stuart was only 3 years old when he found his Dad’s Kiss Alive I album.  He pulled out the picture book and was mesmerized by the images he was seeing.  Then he heard a loud voice say “You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world, Kiss!  His dad played the album turned up to level 10.  From that moment on, he wanted to be a rock musician like Kiss.  At the age of 5, his parents took him to see his first rock concert ; Ted Nugent with Kiss.   This sealed the deal with music being in his blood.  Stuart got his 1st electric guitar at the age of 10 from Bud Hall’s Guitar Town.  It was a black Harmony guitar with gold hardware that looked like a Fender Strat.  While in high school, Stuart discovered Metallica & Megadeth.  He tried to learn every song possible by these two intense bands.  Also, that is when he started writing original material and jamming with various local musicians.  By age 18, Stuart started playing guitar in cover bands that were performing at Funky’s, Lanhucks, Alibi, etc.  In 1996, fed up with trying to find good solid bass players, Stuart decided to pursue bass guitar and join forces with Brian Sollman (Gonzo’s Toybox current singer).  They played together in various bands over the years.  Then in December 2007, he found his home with Gonzo’s Toybox.

Influences:  “I have many influences; however, on guitar it was James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Randy Rhoads, Ace Frehley, George Lynch, Eddie Van Halen, Tony Iommi, and Zakk Wylde. My bass guitar influences were Gene Simmons, Geezer Butler, John Paul Jones, Brian Marshall, Flea, Cliff Burton, Zack de la Rocha, and Paul D’Amour from Tool."

Gear:  “I don’t have any gear endorsements; therefore, I am not saying what gear that I have and play.  However, I will say that Christopher Woods built me a killer acrylic LED bass guitar that weighs a ton!  Everything on it was built to my specifications, except Chris designed the body and headstock shape.  Chris, we need to make more of these!”

Q&A with Stuart

How would you describe yourself as a person?

I am a motivated individual and I go after what I want in life. Life is too short to wait! Everything that I do is given 110%. Is that possible?

How would you describe yourself as a musician?

Somehow, I taught myself to play the guitar and then, the bass. I tried playing keyboards, but it wasn’t for me. At one point, I learned to play the jaw harp. However, that ended after cracking a tooth playing it! In the beginning, I learned to play by writing my own songs because I had no clue how to play someone else’s material. However, during my freshman year in high school, I started to learn how to play my favorite band’s music. My guitar playing started to really develop after I learned every Metallica and Megadeth song that I could physically learn to play. After having many frustrations with bass players in my previous bands, I started to play bass guitar and started to get pretty decent in a short period of time. I have never looked back since.

How do you relax, offstage?

Believe it or not, I play music at home when I am off stage. I guess you could say that I am a music nut. Also, I love to ride motorcycles, take vacations, and go fishing. Although I haven’t had the opportunity in a few years, I also enjoy wakeboarding. Last but not least, I love spending time with friends and my family. They are my rock!

Best gig and why?

I’d have to say the 2011 Owensboro Halloween bash. It had a sea of people that were really into the band. We were on fire that night. Plus, Steve Ray did an awesome job with our Halloween makeup!

Worst gig and why?

Years ago I played a private party in Mt. Vernon, IN. The show was over and I was the last person getting ready to leave. However, I locked my keys in my truck with it running. Then I had to wait out in 20 degree weather for an hour until my father brought me my backup set of keys.

Craziest thing that ever happened at a gig?

One year Gonzo’s Toybox had a New Year’s Eve gig at Milligans. When it was time to start, our singer at the time, Mark Goines, was nowhere to be found. Therefore, we decided to go ahead and play the first set without him. As we were finishing the first set, he finally arrived with a distraught look on his face. It turns out that he took a shower in his hotel room and when he tried to exit the bathroom, the door handle fell off. He was trapped in the bathroom with no cell phone to call for help. How funny is that! Finally, his wife came looking for him and had to call for security to bust the bathroom door down to get him out.

What other member of GT irritates you and why?

I would have to say Fred Hunt. He is always cracking jokes and makes my stomach hurt from laughing so much. Most people don’t realize that Fred is really a funny guy, because he has such a dry sense of humor. However, I can read that man like a book, plus I have to smell his flatulence on my side of the stage. Lay off the bean burritos, dude!

How do you deal with critics?

I just stay focused and keep doing what I do. You can’t please everyone! Plus, there is no such thing as bad press. If they are talking about you, then you have their attention.

What do you think accounts for GT’s longevity?

Bottom line is that everyone in the band loves to play music. Music is like heroine to us. If we don’t play, we start needing our next fix. Also, we are genuine people and don’t try to be someone that we are not. I truly believe that somehow we are blessed to make a connection with our fans. They are the fuel for what we do. Without them, we are nothing! I really enjoy meeting the fans at our shows and to hear their stories.

The zombie apocalypse has started. You have time to play one last show. Where and why?

Madison Square Garden in New York would have to be the apocalypse show. So many of my icons have played there and why not go out with a bang! Of course, I would need to stop by the local gun store and pick up some AR-15’s for the zombie shoot. Let’s see Ramstein top that show! Does anyone know who the band Ramstein is anymore?