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Nick Martin / Blog

Artist Profile: Romance of Thieves

It would almost be an understatement to call Nick Martin a perfectionist. During a pre-gig rehearsal in a crowded, dimly lit room at San Francisco’s Lennon Studios, the leader of R&B ensemble Romance of Thieves has chosen the horn section to obsess about today. The horn players, brothers Jonah (trumpet) and Aaron (saxophone) Baker-McCann, are apparently not playing their parts right, but neither can figure out for the life of them just what they’re doing wrong, and Martin doesn’t seem to be giving much instruction. The other band members choose not to intervene, possibly because it’s extremely difficult to tell who’s right and who’s wrong--besides Martin, nobody knows what the horn part is supposed to sound like.

“You guys don’t have your shit down!” shouts Martin, 16. “Paul’s only been in the band five days and he knows his shit better than either of you guys!” He gestures to bassist Paul Mallari, who watches modestly, noodling a bit on his bass. Within about ten seconds, Martin and Jonah Baker-McCann are in the midst of a shouting match, which mixes with the band members’ awkward noodling to create an unbearably tense cacophony. Jonah threatens to quit; Martin ignores his threats. Finally, Baker-McCann packs up his trumpet and walks right out the door.

Slumped against the wall, Martin is clearly frustrated by the entire ordeal. The fact that half the band (including the drummer and the guitarist) is running several hours late doesn’t help either, nor that the four backing vocalists are learning the ridiculously complex harmonies at the very last minute, nor the fact that Romance of Thieves will be competing against seven much older bands in Gorilla Productions’ Battle of the Bands at the DNA Lounge. The prize, in addition to a hefty cash sum, is the submission of a demo to several of the biggest record labels in the world, and as Martin is serious about pursuing a full-time career in music, being signed is a key part of his plan.

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GenSF Battle of the Bands Coverage

Plagued by technical difficulties, this enormous ensemble, led by former St. Valentine and current R&B antihero Nick Martin, nonetheless put on a remarkable and coherent set. Martin moved fluidly back and forth across the stage, interacting with the audience and band members alike with no regard to technological hinderances or incompetent roadies.

-Daniel Bromfield, SF Rebirth

More Reasons to Get Pumped

Though former The St. Valentinez singer Nick Martin a.k.a. Romance of Thieves is believed to be collaborating with Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, and Flo Rida in the near future, his brand of dark and atmospheric yet catchy and addictive R&B has more in common with that of artists like the Weeknd than any of those more “aggressive” acts.

On “I Just Wanna,” Martin sets multiple fluttering layers of his sweet, sensual voice over an ominous, spidery beat, sounding like a perfectly sweet guy who took a wrong turn on the way to the movie theater with Ms. Rodriguez and ended up in the universe of a David Lynch movie.

His prematurely sensual voice, sliding around multiple octaves but remaining restrained, is untouched by digital interference, and the organic quality adds to the intimacy. And if his universe may be a bit weird and spooky, it’s a fun place to be trapped--and Martin seems to be enjoying it plenty.

-Daniel Bromfield, SF Rebirth

PortolaCore Returns

Nick Martin has left The St. Valentinez and will reportedly be focusing more on his solo project, Romance of Thieves.

Taking a leaf out of Ozzy’s book, Martin will battle The St. Valentinez at the Bay Area’s biggest outlet for intraband and interband rivalry GenSF Battle of the Bands at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on May 7.

-Daniel Bromfield, SF Rebirth

Solo Projects: The Latest From Romance of Thieves

Nicky Martin, The St. Valentinez vocalist who records solo as Romance of Thieves, comes across like the bastard child of Janelle Monae and Alex Chilton.

He would have his mom’s love of left-field soul as well as his dad’s gift for sounding outrageously sexy and sensual beyond his years. “Feel Sexy” hints at this, but it’s about as subtle as a bra in the bed.

“Closer,” on the other hand, is raw and sensual quiet-storm R&B, powered by dream-pop organs and a creeping drum machine. The three-pronged vocal attack is delivered by a disembodied robot mantra, a low-flying flock of “Nickies,” and the decent but somewhat out-of-place rapper Ea$Way.

Advice: lay off the rappers, keep piling on the romance.

-Daniel Bromfield, SF Rebirth

"An Upcoming Pop Sensation?"

Nicholas Herbert Martin is a fourteen year old San Franciscan who is in love with all different genres of music. Also known as Romance of Thieves, with the right help, he has the ability to do great things for the music industry.

Have you ever heard of The Black Resurgents? William Randolph V, son of William Randolph III (the creator of the Oakland style-dance: boogalo) is Thieves’ main producer and business partner.

With his very talented voice, Martin is destined to become a star.

-Wesley Sims, Youth Radio