We chatted with Sean Martin, the lead vocalist of the politically-charged post-grunge group, THE QUARANTINED. Martin, a former airborne infantryman for the U.S. Army has been very vocal about mental health and PTSD, and these weighty issues often play large roles in their bellicose and introspective music. On January 10, the band will be releasing their next multidimensional single, “Nemesis” across several major online media retailers.
Amps: You’re very vocal about PTSD, which you started experiencing yourself after serving in the military. What are some coping mechanisms you use when you feel triggered?
Sean: I don’t really use the word triggered, I like the word activated. A very important adjustment I think the mental health movement as a whole needs to assimilate is this- Triggers cannot be removed from existence, you have to adjust to triggers. An old phrase of wisdom is “Learn to roll with the punches. If PTSD is a permanent disability, it never turns off. You must learn to control your experience in the now, to not miss out on the future. So the experience is not being triggered, it’s having the worst parts of your disability activated in that moment. This way of seeing it helps the transition from a symptom, to processing the experience, and then to learn from that experience.
There are a few ways that PTSD can mess up days, weeks, sometimes months, or even years. The more one runs away from their problems, the worse it gets. Cognitive Behavior therapy, Dialytic behavioral therapy, and breathing exercises are processes that I have ingrained into my mind, where before I had no control over my thoughts after a certain point of unbalance.
Amps: Has serving in the military had a big effect on your music and songwriting?
Sean: Learning discipline, how to accomplish goals, patience, consistent work ethic, observing in order to learn; all of these skills applied to the process of music creation. These helped me learn techniques I thought were unknowable. How to overcome obstacles, how to compromise for the betterment of the team taught me how to realize the seemingly impossible. And that has made all the difference.
Amps: Did you play in a military band at all while you were serving?
Sean: No, I never played in any organized fashion in the military. It was strictly infantry stuff. I did bring my Fender Showmaster guitar that I use on all my records and play at our shows with me to Iraq. When I had time, which wasn’t often, I would play to get some kind of familiar back to my mind.
Amps: You’re about to release a new single called “Nemesis” from your forthcoming EP. Who are you speaking to in this song? Is it a particular person, or are you referring to an internal issue, or a social issue perhaps?
Sean: The song shows how people slip into evil, that our past only feels like it determines our future, and feelings can be deceiving. This is part of what our world must understand, and overcome, to survive. All this struck me late at night in 2012, and these lyrics flowed out of me in 30 minutes. I went back to sleep, and forgot about it for five years. Then when the opportunity to make a new EP came around, I wrote new music for it. The words had almost jumped to life in front of me as I watched mass shooting after mass shooting happen, and the song took on a new meaning. I watched women name their attackers only to be refused justice, and the song had a new meaning.
I watched as a narcissist manipulated a whole country into becoming a vassal state, and another new meaning formed. Police brutality became a thing even sports teams couldn’t ignore. Drug overdoses from pharma companies skyrocket by dump selling opioids faster than any drug dealer ever. I watched our culture become so overtly materialistic that people dying on the street became just another Tuesday, because everybody had to come in early on Wednesday, when they didn’t get paid for the overtime from last Saturday.
I heard liberals and conservatives alike say they couldn’t wait for the next civil war to start- and after I had shared my experience in trying to stop a civil war in Iraq, nobody thought the same afterwards. And now, children in cages, and justice and freedom are slogans in a zero sum game for the powers we as a society give to leaders that can’t help but manipulate, because it’s outrage that gets attention over measured persuasion. Every day it seemed the song had a new meaning. That nemesis friend of mine is either me, you, them, or all of us. Will you pull yourself out of fear in order to do the right thing, despite the manipulation to apathy? I think this may be our most prolific song yet.
Amps: You mixed, mastered, wrote and recorded this song entirely by yourself. What made you want to do this one independently vs. your other recordings, which have been more collaborative?
Sean: It was kinda situationally dependent. The band is spread out over two countries and three states, so they sent parts as the song developed. There was a lot of planning when to add whose part. I’ve always been an advocate for versatility in musicianship, to be able to accomplish your goal no matter the situation, and those disciplines are exactly how this song exists. That mindset comes from the infantry, with their value of complete the mission no matter what.
The band recorded their individual parts, Steven Neevs on drums, Jeremy Hicks-Kachik on Guitars, Alex Diaz on Bass, and me on vocals and rhythm guitar parts. Their contributions have made this song what it is, and they deserve a lot of credit for their work in creating over my poorly made scratch tracks, and turning this into what it is.
Amps: When can we expect the Aversion to Normalcy EP to come out?
Sean: We’re expecting April or May of 2020, the exact dates we don’t really know yet. We want to make a statement with each song and give them the space to shine. We want to be on the front lines of making music with a deeper message.
Amps: Which artists do you see THE QUARANTINED touring with, and which cities and countries would you like to play?
Sean: Highly suspect, Rival Sons, Rise Against, All That Remains, Bad Wolves, Disturbed, Halestorm, Nightwish, System of a Down. I’ve always wanted to tour in Europe and the UK. I’d love to see what our music could do in those markets. Of course I’d want to play everywhere we could in America, DC and New York especially, plus Canada and Mexico.
INTERVIEW: ALEXX CALISE
B&W PHOTO: LIZZ PUGH
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