Interview with drummer A.J. Martinez | By John B. Moore
The Trenton, New Jersey-based punk band Doc Rotten are making it look easy.
Together for less than a year, they realized that had written enough songs to record an EP, the five-song Sick and Suffering, just months after forming. They then approached Pete Steinkopf at a Bouncing Souls show and ended up convincing him to produce their band’s debut LP. When they noticed a lot of their songs on Spotify were being streamed in Japan and Europe, they quickly set up a fall tour in those two countries. They will be traversing North America for the remainder of 2018, into early 2019.
It helps that the band write some remarkably powerful songs. Their full-length debut, Illusion To Choose—which they self-released back in August—calls to mind everyone from the aforementioned Bouncing Souls to classic streetpunks like Cock Sparrer and Sham 69.
Drummer A.J. Martinez, on a very brief break between tours, answers a few questions about the band’s founding, working with Steinkopf, and what’s next for Doc Rotten.
Let’s start off with how the band first came together.
[Vocalist and guitarist Wes Bentley and I] briefly played music together about 10 years ago, and then Wes moved to Colorado. He moved back to New Jersey in 2016 while I was in a band with mutual friends. Wes eventually joined that band, and that became Doc Rotten. I asked my old friend Andy K to join the band as lead guitarist. Our bassist, Scrotes, is the most recent addition; he joined the band this past May.
You went into the studio pretty quickly. Why record right away?
We didn’t know or feel that we went into the studio quickly. We had our songs ready to go, and we decided to put in the work. Our motto is: “We’ll never be the best band, but we can be the hardest working band!”
How were you able to get Pete Steinkopf involved with Illusion To Choose?
Wes and I met him at a Bouncing Souls show in New York. We were talking about music, and he said, “You guys should record with me.” We immediately said, “Yes!” We’re more than grateful for that opportunity. Pete’s awesome!
You toured Japan and Europe in September and October. There are a ton of bands who have been together for a decade and still haven’t been able to pull off a tour outside of the U.S. How did that all come together?
We saw that we had Spotify listeners all around the world—specifically, in those two areas outside of our U.S. following. We talked to a guy months before who books shows in Japan. So, to humor ourselves, we got a quote. We decided, while we’re around the world, we might as well check out Europe too.
We then moved forward solely based on the idea that we don’t want to be in our 60s wondering why we were too afraid to try. So, we all quit our careers and went for it.
What were those shows in Japan like?
We had an amazing time. To a couple dudes from the United States, Japan is like visiting another planet. We’re blown away by how great the people in the local scenes there are. They really love music and go out of their way to let you know that they do while you’re onstage and after the show. We’re already missing our friends there. We definitely want to go back!
What’s next for Doc Rotten?
Touring, touring, and more touring! We [bookended] our European tour in Germany with U.K. shows in between. We’ll be home for three weeks and then back on the road for three weeks doing a Northeastern run through North America. We then get back on the road for approximately four months across the majority of the U.S.
We just dropped a music video for our song “Mind Control” and should have another music video out soon. We like to work hard and stay busy.