Three5Human uses the rock to break down social barriers
There is a great deal of humanistic quality in what comes out of Tomi Martin’s mouth. As the guitarist for Atlanta rock trio Three5Human, Martin is an independent thinker who wants to bring people together.
“Our way of thinking is about bringing back to the front of what’s on a lot of people’s minds,” Martin said. “The quiet rebellion is what we want to awaken. People are scared to say what they want to say.”
It’s a difficult task, but Martin appears to have the energy and the belief in the potential of his fellow man. Go figure—a radical who wants to help people evolve.
And when asked to describe the band’s sound, Martin doesn’t sugar-coat it: “Man, we are what the Black Panthers would sound like if they were a rock band, you know what I’m saying?”
Martin, along with drummer Bernard Coley and lead singer Trina Meade, consider themselves a no-frills rock band—something not necessarily common these days when rock is dominated by white artists.
“We truly are a rock band in the old sense,” Martin said. “Yes, we are black, and when people see us come out on stage they eventually warm up to what we are doing and they love it.”
It would be interesting to hear how the mainstream paints Three5Human’s music. The band’s latest album Flying Below the Radar has, well, flown below the radar to some extent. But the band pulls no punches, tackling issues of poverty, abuse and being the underdog.
“We are from the school where people have the balls to stand up for something,” Martin said. “We ain’t afraid to rock the boat.”
Three5Human’s lyrics ask hard questions and exploit stereotypes. “War (Love Will Prevail)” asks, “Are you ready for your soul to represent your actions?” And “Black Rock Queen” pushes the listener out of the assumption of what a black artist is.
The band’s name even has some social significance, referring to the old cockeyed scheme to count the southern states’ black vote as three-fifths of a white person’s, to quell any revolution.
Martin writes most of the songs with Meade, whose thunderous roar stirs up visions of Tina Turner and Etta James. Martin said they liked what each other was doing and formed an early incarnation of Three5Human called Social Insanity.
“We just met each other doing session work here in Atlanta. Each of us was working with different people. I met Trina and heard her voice, and thought, ‘Wow she brings different life into the music.'”
And drummer Bernard Coley, who was Martin’s first choice for the band, recently replaced Melly Baldwin on the skins.
“Bernard and I go way back,” Martin said. “So it really works, you know rhythm.”
The members of Three5Human signed on to Daemon Records, the label operated by the Indigo Girls and will follow the duo through California, including two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco, before heading to the East Coast.
“We have a lot of love for the Indigo Girls. We recorded with them initially under our old name and have just stuck with it.”