Let's Get It Started
When a mutual friend introduced Trina Meade and
Tomi Martin they knew right away that there was a special
chemistry between the two. Even so, as one of the most
sought-after guitar players in popular music by every superstar from
OutKast to Eric Clapton, Tomi was not yet convinced that
Trina would be the lead vocalist in the band he wanted to form.
That is until Trina decided to prove to him that she could not only
sing like no other, but she
was also blessed with the ability to write
great songs. You can sense a nervous excitement when Trina
describes how she won him over. “One day Tomi was composing
songs for what would become
Sunlight and Toys and I decided I was going to sit down and show
him what I could do. I wrote lyrics right then and there,
singing along with him as he played. The funny thing is I was
actually in the next room within earshot! I was too nervous to
sit right there with him.”
The band started to get some interest from the major labels, but the big label machine was not quite sure how to market and sell this phenomenon. People know Black. People know Rock. But, they don’t know Black Rock. Tomi says, “The label execs would take a look at us and send us down the hall to talk to the Urban Department.” The absurdity lies in the fact that anyone who listens to the band for more than 5 seconds will realize they don’t belong in the Urban Department. Trina describes the sound as “Rock with a whole lot of Soul.” Tomi continues, “It was pretty clear that they just listened to the buzz about the band and none of our music.”
Trina and Tomi were now faced with a choice: stay true to themselves and risk losing a deal or change their sound so they could get signed. So, how did they respond?
They changed their name to Three5Human.
So, What’s In A Name Anyway?
It’s only fitting that a band with politically charged lyrics has a political name. Unlike the U.S. Senate where a state’s representation in number is the same among all other states, representation in the U.S. House is based on a state’s population. Thus, states with large populations have more elected representatives in the House than states with small populations. The South wanted slaves to be included in its population so they could have more representation in the House. A compromise was reached between the North and South declaring that slaves would be counted as three-fifths of one person for the purpose of determining representation in the House of Representatives.
So, maybe now you can appreciate what a bold statement it was to change their name to Three5Human after getting major label attention with the non-controversial safe haven that was Stereo Popsicle. It was a big risk. But, it was real and that’s what Tomi and Trina wanted. In 2005 Three5Human released their first LP under the new name, which was aptly titled Flying Below the Radar.
Now, We’re Ready
More often than not, an Open Mic Night audience will get a super-sized dish of cover tunes and possibly several marginal renditions of the same song. Trina preferred a different approach. One night she had the house band learn and perform her originals on stage. Joey Williams, a powerhouse drummer who had just moved to Atlanta from Chicago, was in attendance one such evening when Trina had the mic. She electrified Open Mic Night with her mesmerizing performance. A mutual friend introduced them after she was done singing and the first thing Joey said to Trina when she got off stage was, “Hey. I’m your drummer.” When Joey was brought on board summer of 2006 Trina and Tomi also contacted Tres Gilbert, notorious for his tasteful playing, to add his bass to the mix. It’s true: Great artists need to be surrounded by great artists to truly flourish. Now, we’re ready.
Three5human signed with record label Anaphora Music in 2006. Jeff Tomei, whose credits include Smashing Pumpkins, Matchbox 20, Edwin McCain, Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains, etc., was chosen to produce and engineer the band’s first CD with Anaphora Music. “I loved working with Jeff,” says Trina. “I had never worked with a producer of that caliber before so I didn’t know what to expect. He really helped us capture our live sound and energy in the studio.” There are also guest vocal appearances by Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. “We’re really excited about the new CD and this band’s potential,” says Bill Swartzberg, Sales & Marketing Manager with Anaphora Music. "The initial response from everybody has been overwhelming. We’re getting some great press reviews on the band. Not only that, the consumer and industry feedback has been incredible.”
Three5Human is on a national tour with the Indigo Girls.
Biography Photos: Clowes Hall, Indianapolis, IN, by Steve Mitchell for MusicPix.net