Christopher Martin, one-half of the rock 'n roll duo IAMDYNAMITE, wants to clear up any concern there may be over his band taking its name from a quote ("I am not a man, I am dynamite") by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
"We read a little bit on the road sometimes, but we're by no means super intellectual people or anything," Martin assures me. "I don't sit around reading all day long or anything."
One listen to the Detroit duo's songs and it's clear they're not trying to save the world for existentialism or anything so lofty as that. It's party rock music that you can have a hell of a good time dancing to, and that's pretty much the point. Having said that, however, Martin proudly acknowledges where he found the quote.
"I was reading a book about existentialism a few years ago, but it wasn't just any book, it was Existentialism for Dummies," he says with a laugh. "That should give you an idea of what I like to read."
It all ties in perfectly with the band's method of operation, which is to be big, ostentatious, silly and a lot of fun. The title of their 2012 full-length debut, for instance, is SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC, and the video they shot for their first single, "Where Will We Go," is a manic series of rapid-fire shots of the two musicians playing their instruments and traveling around with cameras affixed to their foreheads. It was a fun idea, but it also had its drawbacks.
"It was kind of a pain, honestly," Martin says. "It's this crane-like structure that hangs pretty far out from your head. The camera's attached to it, and it's still wobbly even though it's firmly attached just because it's so long. So it is kind of weird. Plus it really dug into our foreheads with the counterpoint from all the weight. After about half a day it started to hurt real bad so we got gel soles for women's high heels and put those inside this band we wrapped around our head to help relieve the pressure."
The vast majority of SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC is an exercise in seeing how loud Martin and his bandmate, Chris Phillips, can be with just a guitar and drums. Longer-running duos like Local H never rocked like this. The band can also give the White Stripes a run for their money, especially on the raucous "Ms. Jones," which sounds like it could be a B-side from Jack and Meg's catalogue. "Where Will We Go" is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows," while the groovy rock strains of "Hi Lo" will put you in mind of some of the more jangly rock songs that Jet made. So with the pronounced rock influence here, it's a bit odd that the album was recorded at the studio of laid-back country music legend Willie Nelson
"I just remember being stressed out while sitting in Willie Nelson's office," recalls Martin, "because there's like a hundred Willie Nelson albums all over the place."
Jangled nerves and stiff necks notwithstanding, the Chrises try not to take anything too seriously.
"To name your band IAMDYNAMITE is sort of over-the-top, you know?" says Martin. "We figured no one would know it's a quote from Nietzsche, which we liked. Plus it sounds like a ridiculous thing to say."