Starflyer 59 is an indie rock band from Riverside, CA founded in 1993 by Jason Martin, brother of Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric. While Martin has written all of Starflyer 59's songs, the band has included a number of different musicians over the years, including Jeff Cloud, Richard Swift, Frank Lenz and Josh Dooley.
Starflyer 59 was signed to Tooth & Nail Records, their original and current label, after Jason Martin gave a demo to Brandon Ebel when the two met at a music festival in 1993. Shortly afterwards, Ebel contacted Martin and offered him a record contract. By the end of the year, Starflyer 59's debut album, Silver, was recorded and released.
In 1995, Starflyer 59 released their sophomore album, Gold. Original response to the album was generally negative. Many who had enjoyed the band's debut were disappointed with the release. Eventually, people began viewing Gold positively. Sales of the album suddenly jumped and it nearly tripled the sales of Silver.
For Starflyer 59's next album, Americana, several changes to the band were made. Bass player Andrew Larson departed, being replaced by Eric Campuzano (The Prayer Chain). In addition, Wayne Everett (The Prayer Chain) became the band's studio drummer, a role that had previously been held by Martin. High tensions in the studio during the recoding of the album led Campuzano to leave the band before it began touring to support the new album. Replacing him was Jeff Cloud, who had been Starflyer's touring manager.
The release of The Fashion Focus in 1998 signaled a change in the direction of the band's sound, largely due to the influence of Gene Eugene. Where previous albums had emphasized guitars and loud, shoegazing rock and roll, The Fashion Focus was a significantly softer album. This album featured keyboards as opposed to layered guitars. The new sound was more pop-friendly than earlier albums. Everybody Makes Mistakes, released the next year, continued in the same direction as The Fashion Focus.
On Nov. 21st, 2000, Starflyer 59 released Easy Come Easy Go, a two disc set that contained songs from throughout their career up to that point. 2001 saw the release of Leave Here A Stranger, Starflyer's next full length album. It saw the band's sound continue to soften. After the untimely death of Gene Eugene, Martin called on long-time musical hero Terry Scott Taylor to take over production of the new album. In an effort to be different, Leave Here a Stranger was recorded in mono. In addition to Martin and Cloud, Leave Here a Stranger featured Josh Dooley on keyboards and Joey Esquibel on drums.
Beginning in 2003, Starflyer 59 would release one full length album every year for three years. All of them are self-produced. The first of these albums was Old. On Old, heavier guitars than could be found on Leave Here A Stranger were introduced. However, the music of Old was still significantly softer than the band's early work. In 2004, I Am the Portuguese Blues was released. With this album, Starflyer 59 returned to the heavy guitar format that was so prominent on their early albums, as well as the monochromatic album covers that had characterized these albums. I Am the Portuguese Blues was not a true follow-up to Old, but instead was a set of older songs that Jason Martin had written for a follow-up album to Americana. The material was originally shelved when the band shifted gears and instead recorded The Fashion Focus. This was a treat for fans of Starflyer 59's older material, but confused many newer fans and critics who were familiar with Starflyer 59's more recent pop-friendly work.
2005's Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice saw the band change their sound yet again, to a style that seemed a more natural follow-up to Old than I Am the Portuguese Blues had been. For this album, Starflyer 59 was cut down to two members: Jason Martin and drummer Frank Lenz. It would be the first studio album since Americana to be recorded without bassist Jeff Cloud. Despite having only two band members, the songs on Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice have a full sound. This is largely due to the inclusion of guest string players on many of the albums tracks.
Also in 2005, Starflyer 59 re-issued digitally re-mastered versions of Silver and Gold with bonus tracks. The re-issue of Silver came with the tracks of the band's follow-up EP, She's The Queen. Gold was reissued with the "Goodbyes Are Sad" 7 inch single and three of the four tracks from the Le Vainqueur EP.
In September 2006, Starflyer 59 released their latest album My Island. My Island is yet another evolution in the Starflyer sound. While Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice relied on the warmth of synthesized bass and live strings, My Island's"strength comes from its catchy guitar hooks and live bass.
Jason Martin's side projects include Bon Voyage, Enemy Ships (formerly known as The Emergency), and The Brothers Martin. He has also produced albums for Fine China, MAP, and Upside Down Room and performed work as a studio musician and guest musician on several albums.