By Lisa Morgan
One day you’re shooting a homemade video in your bedroom of a song you just created (as you’ve done many times before) and the next, your buddy tells you that Dave Navarro (world renowned rock guitarist) just tweeted you! This is the true story of how a local band, Ideation, and their front man John Marek, have found themselves launched into the electronic sonic-sphere.
Posters across Facebook, mostly John’s close friends and family, were beyond gleeful when the video he made as a one man band (playing drums and guitar by himself while singing), hit 60,000 views overnight. The song, “The Back of My Head”, was originally posted on YouTube, July 16th. Today, July 30th, the viewership, as I type, is at 748,869. Just a few days prior, John had posted, “YO!! Anybody need someone to record them for cheap?? I got some sweet new equipment and extra time on my hands. Here’s an updated version of one of our songs. Message me if you wanna get the ball rolling!” Little did he know the ball he would get rolling would create an avalanche of media attention for his own music, and infuse new hope that would save the future of his very talented band.
After playing together for about two years, John had just been given the heartbreaking news that the other two members of his band, Ideation, would be leaving. Struggling to make it here in this desert’s dry economy, bass player Jerryn Charos and drummer Julio Corrales had hit a wall and had resigned to seek out other opportunities; Julio to New Mexico and Jerryn to Toronto. John found himself facing his musical pursuits on his own for the first time in a long time, thus inspiring the one-man-band creation that he shared with the following post: “Me playing a song I made yesterday with guitar and drums simultaneously. I know it’s not perfect, but I just learned how to do this yesterday. Enjoy.”
Enjoy we did, along with over half a million other YouTubers:
July 16th, John posts “The Back of my Head” which overnight, reached a viewership of over 60,000 July 17th, John’s video hit YouTube’s homepage music category. July 18th, John posted, “I think life is finally starting to take off for me…” as his video had been viewed by hundreds of thousands. July 21st, John posts: “Dave Navarro tweeted my video… Jesus.” Dave Navarro tweets: “This kid, John Marek pretty much rules!” and shares the video with his fans. July 30th: The video is quickly climbing toward the 1 million mark.John and the band have been interviewed by Just This Minute, a television show that reaches 68% of the country. This can be viewed worldwide online at http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/incredible-musician-can-play-guitar-drum-and-sing-once. They have also been featured on CBS’ The Feed’s Weekend Music Round-Up that can be viewed worldwide at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504784_162-57594620-10391705/weekend-music-round-up-its-too-hot-edition/.
“When all this started to happen, I asked Julio and Jerryn if they would stay, and they did,” shared the relieved Marek. Julio, who is not one to count his chickens before they hatch, shared, “This gives us new hope that maybe we can make something happen. It’s been a real learning experience. John and I really know how to play off of each other now. I can just read him. Hopefully this will allow us to focus solely on our music.” Now, this powerful trio is working feverishly to record as much as possible in order to nurture their new found cyber fame. As one would expect, the group’s unanimous, somewhat dazed, reaction to the new cyber exposure comes in the words like, “Awesome”, “Exciting” and “Mind blowing.” As far as John’s take on the whole thing, he shares, “I was not expecting this at all. Literally, I was just thinking, ‘Huh, I wonder if I can do this’. I fiddled around with the guitar and the drum. I figured, ‘I can play those chords and do that… Then it started to sound like a song, so I thought I could sing over it – that was actually the easiest part. I showed some friends on Facebook, and they showed their friends. Then a friend of mine, Nuri Hodges, posted it on reddit.com and it just like exploded! I was really just flabbergasted. Then Dave Navarro tweeted it, which was absolutely unbelievable to me. It is overwhelming and exciting because finally, after playing for two years, the band is getting the exposure they need from this. Independent radio stations and label owners are contacting us now.”
Here’s what I feel is the coolest part of this story. When I called John to ask him for an interview, to be featured in CV Weekly’s next issue, he replied gratefully, “Sure, but can we make it about the band.” I, of course, had no problem with that whatsoever. Having followed John and Ideation for a while now, I still remember with complete clarity, my jaw dropping and hitting the cement floor of The Hood Bar as I watched this band play for the first time. Not excessively showy, their passion and music created its own energy. They were exceptionally tight and cohesive for such a young band, and the talent, style and fervor of their front man, guitarist and vocalist was uniquely enchanting. As one of his fortunate friends on Facebook, I’ve been able to witness his previous self-made posts where he’d come home, “make” a song and post it. I was always amazed at how quickly and prolifically the guy could create exceptional rock and roll music. As over half a million viewers have now seen, the guy embodies music. He channels the very spirit of Rock and Roll with the same abandon as Jim Morris of the Doors with perhaps a somewhat saner approach. While much of the new attention has been focused on John’s talents, he is constantly pointing to his band for his success on stage, as well as to their collaboration of what is now a collection of at least two full albums worth of very strong, original music.
I would be remiss, however, not to mention a little about the creator of this video that has put this powerful trio in the spotlight. Born and raised here in the Coachella Valley, John Marek started playing piano at age 10 learning via the Suzuki Method, basically learning everything by ear. He took those lessons with the same teacher as good friend, Jack Kohler from the band War Drum. “I’m basically a musical caveman,” John laughs. “I don’t read music at all. I picked up guitar at about the age of 14, then bass and drums, all pretty much self-taught. I was kind of into death metal at first. Then at around the age of 17, I found out who The Doors were, and from that point forward, I just wanted to play rock and roll.” Hallum Martin was the original bass player for Ideation. “He was an insane, bass player! I learned a lot about how to play the guitar from a bass player which is kind of ass backwards from the norm I guess. That’s why I play with my thumb and I slap the guitar and such. We played together for about 3 years and went through a bunch of different drummers until Julio Corrales came on. Unfortunately Hallum had to leave, and unbeknownst to us, he had already started teaching all our songs to Jerryn Charos. It was kind of a nice thing to do, I guess. I’d known Jerryn since high school. We started adapting to the new bass playing and started coming up with more digestible songs… a less progressive kind of rock and roll that I think is more palatable, instead of being so technically driven.”
Ideation will be releasing their next single, digitally, on August 8th, called “Desperate Man”. This song is touted as one of drummer, Julio Corrales’ favorite tunes, which says a lot considering how much music these guys have already put out. And that’s not all. Dedicated to the DIY (Do It Yourself), indie approach, Jarryn shared, “We are going to try to produce and release a song a week to keep things going on the internet. Hopefully we’ll get the attention of a studio in Los Angeles or someone with some notoriety. For now, it’s all home DIY stuff. We saved up our money from all of our gigs for a really nice recorder and microphone to work with the equipment John had already. It’s simple really, and it’s going to be some good stuff.” Meanwhile, John says, “An acquaintance of ours who owns a label in Los Angeles is talking to a bunch of promoters and working on getting us shows in LA. We’re pretty excited.” The guys echo their plans to put their music out at their shows “for free or really, really cheap.” I suspect the opportunity to get their music in such a manner, will not last for long, once they get in front of the right people. Julio, who has been burning the candle at both ends, juggling the day job with the music is hoping, along with the rest of the group that they can book enough gigs to alleviate the need for the dreaded “day job” and music can be their main focus. “Getting paid to do what we love would be ideal. That would be the dream,” shared Jerryn. When asked what he is hoping will come from this, John simply says, “I just want to go on tour, make an album and get signed. That would be a dream come true.”
While there is nothing predictable or sensible about the music industry most of the time, my money’s on something fantastic happening for these musicians. Watch their career path along with me as I follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IdeationMusic. You can also subscribe to John’s YouTube posts at Ideation Marek or https://www.youtube.com/user/Ideaitonband
By the way, in the time it took me to write this article, the number of YouTube views just went up to 749,287. You do the math.