Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Usually, this is where the story would end. Martin Stark had left the Westside Riders without a demo made, less than a handful of gigs, and even less than a handful of songs fully written despite claiming to be a committed artist. Instead, he shuffled back to a life as a consultant in Deloitte & Touche LLP, assisting companies in their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts. And like many former so-called committed artists in Los Angeles, Martin Stark was on his path to the mundane, work-a-day life, looking forward to business casual Fridays, solid financial planning, and engaging in the occasional minor sexual harassment. His settled friends viewed this change with some sense of relief, the man-child finally putting away his childhood things. And as for his artistic friends, although the official version is that Martin Stark walked away from the Westside Riders because he wanted more stability in his life, they would have viewed his decision with resignation if it weren't for the rumored mental implosion that precipated the breakup.

Of course, this article wouldn't have been written if that's where the story ended. Unbeknownst to his former artist friends and his suited co-workers, Martin Stark with all his new disposable income started buying high end mixing software and hardware, stocking up on old punk and motown vinyls. The margins of his legal pads from work were filled with quickfire lyrics in addition to the intricacies of securitites compliance. And so, there was a disconnect when "Riders on the Storm -- The Ian Curtis Remix" started filtering from diverse clubs as The Standard, Rage and The Falcon and onto local alternative radio station 103.1. One of the DJs said he received the mp3 from his promoter, who in turn said he received it from a friend at a record label, who in turn received it from someone he knew in legal.

It was only after the third single,"Last Goodbye from Motown," from this suit who knew someone in legal who knew the talent exec who knew Stanley's hairdresser ad nausuem started getting national airplay that Martin Stark reluctantly acknowledged that he was the man who crafted "Riders on the Storm -- The Ian Curtis Remix," "Debonair Gentlemen," and "Last Goodbye from Motown."

So, two years after the breakup of that barely remembered local band Westside Riders, it turns out that Martin Stark wasn't content to toil away in Willy Loman-like purgatory. In fact, in his original compositions, he had honed his lyricism--cutting out his overwrought maudlin excesses--which in turn accentuated the emotions behind the songs. With his mashups, something that was not in his repetiore with the Westside Riders, he crafted compositions that went beyond pure kitsch and that was better than ninety percent of original singles.

Neither Martin Stark nor the other former members of the Westside Riders granted interviews for this article. (Though Martin was incredibly polite despite my admitted exhuberant insistence.) Thus, this article begins at a disadvantage--though one thing can be said--maybe his decision to return to the office wasn't such a bad idea at all.