"All rock bands love their mothers, but not all mothers raise rock bands." – Elvis.
I must admit that I am not sure if Elvis ever said that, but I am sure he wouldn’t disagree. After all, he bought his mama that pink Cadillac. Randy Martens, mother of drummer Michael Martens, was there for members of “O Brother” from the very beginning. Awaiting the release of their fourth full-length album, Michael and Randy think back over the early years of the band and the supportive role she took on as a mother.
“O’ Brother” is a rock band from Lawrenceville, Georgia that has become a national recording and touring enterprise. But it all started with one loyal fan, Randy Martens, who band members Anton and Johnny Dang affectionately call, “Mama Martens,” the “solid rock of the band.”
“I loved it from the beginning. Going to the house shows, the back yards and the garages, and I became a part of that. I sold tickets, merchandise, I did anything they needed,” says Mrs. Martens. “For me as a mom, I would sit at shows and watch Michael and he was so happy, how could you not support that?”
Michael thinks back, “I remember very early on, we played a music contest where the only other competitor got disqualified. She was never like, “You shouldn’t have won.” She was just always there, she was always wearing a t-shirt and doing whatever she could do to help out.”
Randy remembers the moment the band decided to get really serious, “You know, it all started in middle school and at that stage you’re not thinking that this is going to be life. But when it all came to fruition for me is when they were all living together in a house in Atlanta and they asked if they could move in with me because they were going to be touring so much that renting a place just didn’t make sense.”
Randy not only made it work, but also adopted the band as family. After the band moved in, the Martens’ home become an oasis for many touring bands that needed a layover from life on the road. “There was a practice room in the basement and extra bedrooms. And most of the time the six people living at my house were really more like fifteen. I used to love to get up in the morning after a show and count the vans and trailers parked on our street.”
A few albums and tours later, the band moved out, and it is a lot quieter now for Randy these days. While the band has grown and matured so has it’s members, “We are now in this time where members of the band are getting married.” Randy explains, “I think I cried harder at Anton’s wedding than I did at Michael’s wedding. I think I just realized it was the end of an era … I really think they’ve come such a long way, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!”
Michael still receives unprecedented support from his mom, “Today, she takes a genuine interest in what we are doing. She cares and she comes to shows when she can.”
If given the opportunity, you would probably find Randy on tour with the band, “My favorite thing to do at their shows is to watch the crowd. I am just so in awe of all these kids who are singing along and they know all the lyrics. They are so into the band. I am like, oh my God, these are my kids.”
When asked if she ever regrets her decision to teach her kids to follow their dreams she doesn’t hesitate, “Absolutely not. I feel like you only have one shot at a dream. When you’re young is the time to do it, because what often happens, is that later in life you find out it’s just too late.”
Given the opportunity to publicly admire his mom’s contribution to his dream, Michael says, “When you look back at what she did for the band, it’s pretty cool. Had she not let us live with her we would have never made it. When you’re getting started you need that solid rock and foundation and I am super glad that it’s my mom.”