//Michael Martin: Wrestling Bears, Podcasts, and Other Nerd Stuff

Michael Martin: Wrestling Bears, Podcasts, and Other Nerd Stuff

By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

Michael “Rickshaw” Martin first made a name for himself as the bassist for the experimental metal band iwrestledabearonce (IWABO), whom he joined in 2009, shortly after the release of their first album. The band’s style was known as “mathcore,” a term that describes the combination of heavy riffs and breakdowns associated with deathcore, with odd time signatures, highly technical guitar playing, and liberal use of random samples and genre-blending breaks. The use of their frenetic, aggressive instrumentals, along with the otherworldly vocals of original frontwoman Krysta Cameron quickly earned them a respectable and dedicated following. IWABO toured extensively, supporting bands like August Burns Red, Dance Gavin Dance, Attila, and Every Time I Die. They were also a regular fixture on the Vans Warped Tour from 2010-2013. In 2012, Krysta Cameron left the band to spend more time with her family. She was replaced by Courtney LaPlante and the band would go on to record two more albums before finally calling it quits in 2015. Michael eventually relocated to Austin, TX where he works as a bartender, but the entertainer in him couldn’t stay out of the spotlight for long. Michael soon started the Worship and Tribute Nerd podcast as an outlet for himself and his friends to talk about movies, music, gaming, comic books, and all things nerdy. He also interviews former bandmates and musicians he had befriended on the road. As Worship and Tribute Nerd launches their 2021 season, Michael sat down with the Flyer to talk about the past, present, and future plans for the W&TN brand.

This is probably a dumb question, but do you miss the band life?

Haha, I do. Of course I do. I mean, I like being with my family and having a relatively “normal” life, but I have amazing memories with IWABO. I feel like we never got the break we deserved, we always joked that we were cursed because we worked so hard and would get so close to whatever our idea of success was, and then something would always happen to kind of screw things up. But I’m really proud of what we did as a group and I’ve met some really amazing people that we shared stages with. When I see the bands we used to tour with still killing it, it does make me kinda wish I was back out there.

Any chance of an iwrestledabearonce reunion?

Ehh, probably not. I don’t even think I could play any of that stuff anymore.


Seriously! I’ve been so busy with work and other projects that I haven’t even picked up a bass in so long. I’m way out of practice, and the stuff we were writing in IWABO was a challenge even when we played it every night on tour.

But, besides that, Courtney and Michael are blowing up with their group Spiritbox and obviously putting all of their focus and energy into that, and Krysta is in a new relationship and just had another baby. Everyone is just kind of moving in different directions and doing their own things.

Speaking of Krysta, she’s got a new project called Empyrean Lights that you were rumored to be a part of. What’s the story with that?

Yeah, well they asked me to come play with them and of course I’m totally down to do that, but then she got pregnant and you know how that goes. Krysta has always put her family first and I totally respect that. But that’s put the music stuff on the back burner for them, so I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with all of that.

So what made you decide to get into podcasting?

It was something my friends and I had always talked about doing. Not necessarily podcasting specifically, because we had these ideas way before podcasts were a thing, but you know. Basically we would all be sitting around getting stoned or whatever and having these random, hilarious conversations, and saying we should be recording this or something. I thought hey, this stuff is funny to us, maybe someone else might think it’s entertaining to listen to also. So then, after IWABO broke up I was working as a dealer at a casino. I had a lot of downtime and I would spend it working on ideas I had and that’s where the concept for Worship and Tribute Nerd started. 

Before I joined IWABO, I played in a band with [co-host] Fuzz and I felt like we always had good takes on music, movies, gaming, and stuff like that, and I had this idea of finding out what other artists “nerd interests” were. So that’s what the general idea for the show was. I reached out to the artists I was friends with and it was like ‘Hey, you want to come on my show and talk about the random nerd stuff you’re into?” and it just kind of expanded from there.

The concept of the show is really unique. It’s refreshing to hear bands talk about something other than the same questions they get asked in every interview.

For me personally, it just felt weird to ask these guys who I knew personally and considered my friends the generic “so, how’d you decide on the band name?” type of questions. I mean, you can find that shit on their wikipedia page, I don’t care about that stuff. I want to know what your favorite 80’s horror movie is, or if you can kick my ass on Street Fighter. I want to have those random conversations that you have when you get together with friends and just chop it up. That’s what’s interesting to me, and hopefully to other people too.

I discovered Worship and Tribute Nerd during the lockdown while cruising YouTube. Have you noticed an increase in viewership as a result of the COVID lockdowns and people spending more time at home?

Not really. If anything, I’ve seen the number of people starting podcasts blowing up during quarantine. It seems like every other person I meet has a podcast now. Not trying to sound like a hater or anything, I think it’s a good thing that it’s so easy for someone to start their own podcast. But, at the same time, the market is just flooded with them now. That makes it a lot harder to stand out from the crowd without some serious promotional backing behind you.

You’re in the Austin area now. What do you think about Joe Rogan moving out there? Is he bringing any extra attention or new buzz to the Austin podcasting scene?

Not really. It’s not like how music scenes used to be, where like a band would blow up somewhere and then labels would be swarming all over there looking for other bands in the scene to sign. Like Seattle in the 90’s or LA or whatever. Everything is different now, it’s all on social media. In a way that’s a great thing, because anyone has a chance to be discovered no matter where they live. But, at the same time, the field is so unbelievably crowded now that it takes a tremendous amount of work and a lot of luck to stand out from the rest.

I think, if anything, Joe Rogan’s success just gives more legitimacy to podcasting in general as a serious medium. If he brings more people into listening to podcasts, and some of them start wondering what else is out there, and that leads them to find W&TN, then that’s all good with me.

Where would you like to take the W&TN brand from here?

Honestly, I would be really happy if it could just be successful enough that I could hire someone to edit all this shit together for me (laughs). Seriously though, I record, edit, and upload all of this stuff myself and that takes a tremendous amount of time to do. Plus I’m working full-time, so basically I do all of it on my days off. I think my fiance would appreciate me actually being able to spend time with her, so yeah, it would be great to get big enough to pay someone to do the grunt work. I was selling W&TN merch for a while, but I had to let it go because I just didn’t have the time to manage it for the return I was getting from it. So that would be cool to bring back also as the show builds and grows.

Other than that, I mean of course I’d love to be able to just do this full-time. I feel very fortunate to have the connections I do in the music scene. I definitely think that gives me a bit of an advantage. We’ve had some pretty awesome interviews in the past and I’m really excited about the guests I’ve already got lined up for upcoming episodes.

Can you tease us with a few names?

Sure. We just wrapped an interview with adult film star Jessie Lee which turned out better than I had expected. We talked about a lot of nerdy stuff and it was a lot of fun. I think fans will enjoy it. We also talked with Paolo Galang from the band Within the Ruins and he is a super nice guy. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you definitely need to. Their new stuff is siiiick. 

The Feb. 4th show is going to be with Stephen Bradley, the guitarist from IWABO, so we’ll probably be telling a lot of crazy road stories and having some laughs. Then after that, [ex-Within the Ruins vocalist] Tim Goergen will be on to do part 3 of our Nu Metal series. His last two appearances were a blast, just talking about all those great Nu Metal bands we all grew up on and nerding out together, so that should be a really fun show.

So are you retired from music for good? No more Rickshaw on bass?

Well… ok, I’ll give you a little scoop, something I haven’t talked about publicly anywhere else yet. Fuzz and I have been jamming on some shit lately and we’re putting together a little music project that I’m pretty excited about. It’s got an early 2000’s vibe to it, like that heavy, Nu Metal sound. So, we’ll see what happens with that.

This is the part where I ask, do you have any parting words for our readers?

Check out my podcast! It’s on Spotify, iTunes, all the streaming services. I also upload the video version of the podcast on YouTube. New episodes every Thursday. If you’re already a fan of the show, thank you so much, it means so much to me to have your support. If you aren’t already a fan, then what are you waiting for? Come check it out!

The Worship and Tribute Nerd Podcast is available on all streaming platforms and YouTube. Follow the Worship and Tribute Nerd Podcast on facebook.com/Worshipandtributenerd Michael Martin on Instagram @ihateghosts. And listen to Michael in iwrestledabearonce on all streaming platforms.