We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: Our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV series reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind)
Secret Life: Chandler Martin
RV Director of People Operations/Rockstar
A Charlotte native, Chandler started on the sales side of the business and is one of the most versatile and energetic RV-ers in history. He’s held more than 7 roles in 5 years and is behind the scenes of some our biggest and baddest events. When he’s not managing sales initiatives, organizing REDTalks or serving as host of the annual RV Talent Shows, Chandler enjoys “kicking around Southend” and playing music at local breweries and restaurants.
Oh, he also happens to be a rockstar who’s played with members of FUN, The Flaming Lips, HelloGoodbye, Paramore and other major players in the music industry.
Q: How’d you get your start in music?
A: I learned guitar at a really young age just so I could start jamming with my Dad. Then in high school I started a series of embarrassing emo bands – “Under Autumn Skies,” “One Six Conspiracy,” you know the kind. Finally, when I was 19, I started a band called The Verdict, and that’s the one that kind of took off. We got to tour around the country for a few years with acts like Paramore, The Early November, The Rocket Summer.
Emo (n): The Korean word for “aunt.”
Q: Wait a minute, we recognize some of your band mates…
A: Yeah – Emily Moore just won a Grammy with FUN, and Mike Garzon plays keys and guitar for Hellogoodbye. Other members went on to play with The Early November and played with Charlie XCX and some other acts coming up. So even though The Verdict didn’t work out, I like to think we’ve at least made a mark on the music industry.
Q: Do you still play?
A: I do. I’m still pretty close with my former bandmates and still get some requests to help out with shows. The only one I’ve said yes to (so far) is HelloGoodbye – because I had no idea what I was agreeing to at the time…
Q: That sounds like a good story…
A: It was last year, and it came at one of the most chaotic times in my life. Mike calls me up and just says, “Hey, do you want to play a show?” Thinking he meant just me and him, of course I said yes. Then, two weeks before the show he calls me back to see if I’ve “learned all the material” – I had agreed to perform a set of music I’d never played before, in front of thousands of fans. Some freaking out occurred.
Q: Even though you’d played big shows like that before?
A: Well, on top of not knowing any of the music, I had just gotten a new position at work and was in the middle of launching an entirely new business. Massive expectations for this business. So I was working 12 hour days, and then going straight to the studio to practice all night getting ready for this show, then doing it all over again the next day. For two weeks. It was insane.
Q: How did it go?
A: It was a blast. I show up, we have 35 minutes to rehearse together (before the 45 minute set). I’m still freaking out, by the way. I keep getting lost in rehearsals, I’m thinking “I haven’t been on stage in 6 years, and I’ve never performed anyone else’s music.” But just getting up there and not having to say anything, not having to sing or worry about anything other than finding the flow of the music — it’s one of my favorite feelings. I didn’t want it to end. So a few months after that show, Mike calls me again and asks if I can do a few more cities with them.
Q: Tell us about that.
A: It was a similar chaotic situation: I’d just gotten another new position at RV – this time working directly with Ric (the CEO). I was literally two weeks on the job when this opportunity came up, and honestly I didn’t even know if asking to do this was okay. I really thought I might get fired. Thankfully, my coworkers convinced me that the only way Ric would possibly be pissed would be if I didn’t ask.
They were right. I believe his exact words were: “YES. Go have fun.” So I went and played for a few weeks with HelloGoodbye, The Flaming Lips, Matt & Kim and Dashboard Confessional all over the west coast, NYC, and a few other places.
Q: How did you manage going on tour AND keeping up with RV work?
A: It was hard. Most nights we’d be out til 2-3 in the morning, and every morning I’d be up by 6 getting e-mails out and keeping up with work remotely. Then back to music that night.
Honestly, the biggest thing I took away, and what I appreciate most about the experience is this: I really, really did not think I could do it. Learning all of that new material, performing it in front of thousands of fans, playing in such a different style – and doing it all on top of this really exciting but really demanding new job. I doubted myself so much and wanted to quit… more than a few times. But Mike never let me, and I ended up pushing myself harder than I ever have in my life. Afterward I just thought, “I did that. I can handle this. I can do anything.”
Q: It seems like you’ve found the perfect balance (between having a career in business and playing music).
A: Yeah, balance is key. You know, if I hadn’t started at RV when I did, I probably would have joined HelloGoodbye. But I would have the most intense hangover, and I’d be doing the same thing every day. At the same time, if I hadn’t had the experiences of performing and pushing myself the way I’ve had to, I’m not sure I would have taken on some of the higher-pressure roles I’ve had here at RV.
When I was younger I used to think all I’d ever be good at was music. But working here and getting to go tour a few weeks out of the year has been absolutely perfect in terms of pushing me to take more risks and get out of my comfort zone – and obviously having loads of fun.
Q: Hey by the way, didn’t we see you on TV with Carson Daly?
A: Haha, yes that’s a funny story, too: We’re sitting in the green room at this club in LA, “getting ready” for a show – stringing guitars, hanging out but not really warming up like we should. This guy with a clipboard comes around and starts asking everyone to sign something. Now, we’ve all played a few shows in our lives at this point, and that’s not usually part of the package. Come to find out, Forrest (the lead singer) had made a deal with Carson to film a segment for his show – and then completely forgotten to tell any of us. So we go out there, completely unpracticed, and I proceed to spend the entire set hiding in the shadows. You know, normal rockstar stuff. I’m sure the video is floating around somewhere online for someone around here to dig up… (laughs)
Want more Secret Life? Check out how RV designer Tommy Hines moonlights as Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Mode” business partner here.