Interview With Derek Martinez

When Susan came to me about this Rocktober event, I knew I wanted to do something really neat but at the time, I didn’t know what.  It hit me only a few weeks later.  We’re talking to writers about rock fiction and non fiction, why not ask musicians about the books they read!  Over the next few weeks, I will be writing up, sending out and posting interview questions from different musicians that I know.  It starts here today with one of the first musicians I met!  If you have any questions for Derek, be sure to post them in the comments section!

TTS:  I would like to welcome Derek Martinez to The Top Shelf!  I met Derek through some group on Yahoo ages ago for the band Creed.  Musically, I know him for some of his solo stuff and for his work in the Zoo Human Project.  Although, from what I hear right now, he’s like some sort of musical Superman with like three projects going on.  What have you been up to Derek?  Inform me and the rest of the readers of what all you’re involved in!

First of all, Misty, I’d like to say it’s a pleasure to make a little cameo on The Top Shelf.  It’s great to see you keeping yourself busy with so many things that bring you joy…with TSG Photography and your successful book blog.

I’m living my own bit of heaven right now, too. After recovering from valve replacement surgery this year (, I’m getting back into the swing of things and surrounding myself with music. In addition to teaching guitar, drums, and piano, I also play in three bands:

The Zoo Human Project ( – Soulful and Funky Acoustic Rock
The Shades for Gray ( – Hard Rockin’ Hip-Hop
Blue Surround ( – Catchy Electronic Pop/Rock

I also dabble in filmmaking and I’m an avid gamer (Xbox Live: SgtEquis). Does that answer your question? (laughs)

TTS: Does it ever! Wow!  What sort of books do you like to read?

My favorite author by far is Hermann Hesse. I’m really drawn to his stories of growth and enlightenment. “Siddhartha” remains my favorite book after reading it 16 years ago. However, for the escapist in me, my genre of choice would probably be Science-Fiction. I love H.G. Wells and the Halo novels. I’m such a dork for that stuff.

I’m currently reading a completely different kind of book right now; “Always Looking Up” by Michael J. Fox. Since I’ve been enduring my own medical struggles and the emotions that accompany them, I feel that his book really resonates with me.

TTS: Is there any genre you wouldn’t read?

I don’t think you could ever get me to pick up a Romance novel. Something about holding a book with a bare-chested Fabio doesn’t do it for me. Aside from that, I would appreciate being informed or entertained by most other genres.

TTS: Do you feel what you’ve read influences you as a musician? If so how?

Definitely. Going back to Hermann Hesse, he’s probably influenced my songwriting more than any other author. His recurring themes of self-dicovery and spiritual progress are very present in music I’ve created, most notably The Zoo Human Project songs “Gravity” (from Naissance) and “Way Down” (from our untitled, forthcoming third album).

Also, in 1999, I wrote a tune called “Paradise” based on a Hesse short story, “Pictor’s Metamorphosis”. (As a side note, that song was my first musical collaboration with the woman who would become my wife!)

TTS: What influences you to read what you do?  Do those same influences come into play when you create music?

Most of what I read is influenced by how I’m feeling when I pick a book up. Because my emotional location has a tendency to bounce across the map every now and then, I may close a book and not reopen it months later when I’m in the right mood. Interestingly, this happens during my songwriting process too. Getting to know myself over the years, I’ve learned that forcing myself through a book or a song when I’m not “in the right place” really hampers my enjoyment.

TTS: What do you think of the genre of rock fiction?  Some say there’s a small market for it.

I don’t know much about rock fiction – never read it before. My guess is that some career musicians might find their own non-fiction to be sufficient enough to rival the greatest in the genre, though. (chuckles)

TTS: If you haven’t read any rock fiction are you planning on checking out any of the books featured here for our Rocktober event?

If they come recommended by you, Misty, I’ll definitely give ’em a look!

I also wanted to provide – for your readers – an exclusive early look at the recording of The Zoo Human Project’s “Way Down (Demo).


Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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