On the music from the Lexus advert

01:00 Fri 19th Jul 2002 |

Artwork from Open Heart Zoo
Anyone visiting the Adverts section of The Answerbank this summer could have guessed that Elvis would get to No.1 with "A Little Less Conversation", given the amount of interest shown in 'the music from the Nike ad'. Of course, he did. Well, don't be surprised if there's a similar result when Martin Grech releases 'the music from the Lexus ad' - also known as the title track from his forthcoming debut CD, 'Open Heart Zoo'.

You're comparing him to Elvis
That's stretching the point, though fans of his music rank it with the best of Radiohead and Pink Floyd. One fevered internet critic managed to namecheck Mozart, Beethoven and the Sex Pistols in a review of just three tracks from the new CD! And yet, incredibly, Grech wasn't even born when Elvis died: he's still only 19 years old. There is a real buzz about the release of his first CD.

Start at the beginning, please.
OK, the potted biog. The 12-year-old Martin Grech discovers a love for music when he first hears Radiohead. His family is musical, so there are instruments all over the house. He plays and plays, then starts to write songs of his own. At 15 a family friend, Andy Thompson (now his manager) introduces him to a producer called Andy Ross (credits include Howard Jones, Tori Amos and Propaganda). Still a month shy of his 16th birthday, Martin spends a weekend in the studio. Three tracks are recorded - the vocals recorded that day for a song called 'Penicillin' have made it all the way to the new album.

That was three years ago
A 15-year-old releasing his own music will come across as a novelty act, however mature the music. The two Andy's, Thompson and Ross, were old friends and colleagues of Howard Jones (yes, that Howard Jones). Together, they were able to give young Grech the time and space to develop his music - on weekends, holidays and after school. Too many young musicians find the pressures of record company and management, fans and fame too much to shoulder. Grech, like the young Kate Bush before him, appears to have been given the ideal creative environment in which to work.

And coming bang up to date
With an album's worth of music in the can, Grech and his team found themselves in a bidding war as record companies fell for his music. Interscope in the US and Island in Britain won out. And then came...

The Lexus advert!
The ad is for the Lexus SC430 and aims to position that model as the "new icon for the image of Lexus". The commercial, directed by Carl Eric Rincsh, was filmed in Rome's Piazza Farnese in April, and features a hunky Italian soap star. But the real star of the advert, judging by the interest shown here, is the music. "We never thought of doing ads," Andy Thompson told The Answerbank. "In April, we signed a deal with EMI Publishing and within two weeks they'd taken Martin's music to Saatchis, and they fell in love with it."

What's come since has amazed everyone. "Lexus and Saatchis have never had such a response for any of their ads," says Thompson proudly. Certainly if traffic on this site is to be believed, it's going to be a smash. There have been more questions about 'the music from the Lexus advert' than for any other subject in recent weeks.

Answerbank reader thom_ even wrote a concert review for us: "I was left with a buzzing feeling throughout my body. I approached him afterwards and blurted the only words I could think of: "You were quality".

Heady stuff for a teenager, but Grech is taking it in his stride, insists Thompson. "Martin is and always has been one of the most level-headed, straightforward, cool people I've ever met - kind, thoughtful and considerate. (He still can't tie his own shoelaces, mind - he's only interested in making more music!)"

Ah yes, the music.
Here's one teenager who didn't spend his pocket-money topping up his mobile to vote for Gareth or Will. Radiohead are an acknowledged inspiration, Pink Floyd have been mentioned too. Heavy metal mag Kerrang! gushed over the "sparse cyber-rock riffs... ethereal vocals [and] shimmering reveries". There's trance and techno and industrial riffery in the mix too. Someone -- and it sounds like a public relations type, if you ask me -- described his music as a "magnificent implosion of avant-rock, reaching deep down into hellfire and soaring celestially, frequently at the same time".

Fortunately, everyone who has heard Grech play, live or on record, appears to agree.

Any idea what the tracks on the CD are called
It's funny you should ask:
1. Here It Comes
2. Open Heart Zoo
3. Dali
4. Tonight
5. Push
6. Only One Listening
7. Notorious
8. Penicillin
9. Catch Up
10. Twin
11. Death Of A Loved One
12. ILL (Demo Version) (Bonus Track)

The CD - Open Heart Zoo - is released on Monday 22nd July. As far as singles go, Dali is already out and the title-track ('the music from the Lexus advert') may be released as a single later in the year.

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