Career in Germany

Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Motnik began playing guitar at the age of 8, but started specializing on bass guitar by the age of 13[2]. While playing for several years in different local bands, Motnik attained a Masters degree in business at the University of Mannheim[3]. At the same time he contributed to a number of dance releases as an arranger and keyboard programmer, creating the musical foundation for releases by Martha Wash feat. RuPaul, and for the British platinum boy band Worlds Apart. Motnik also had his own release under the pseudonym O2 with a remake of “Oxygene,”[4] the trademark tune of French synthesizer icon Jean Michel Jarre, released on ZYX Music.[5] In 2003, Motnik relocated to Munich to conclude an MBA by writing his thesis in collaboration with German media company ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG. While working there, their affiliated TV station ProSieben picked up a demo tape of Motnik’s original band What4[6] and chose Motnik’s original composition “All Behind” as the theme music for a TV trailer campaign and started broadcasting the song across Germany, Austria and Switzerland[7]

Shortly after, Motnik joined goth metal band Darkseed. The band recorded the album “Ultimate Darkness”[8] and performed on festivals across Europe. In 2005 he collaborated with prolific studio drummer Gregg Bissonette to record Motnik’s solo CD “Bass Invader”, featuring Swedish guitarist Mattias Eklundh on two songs.[9] The album received praise for its musicality and craftsmanship in reviews world-wide, from Japan[10] and the U.K.[11] to the United States[12]. Following the release of his CD, Motnik began giving solo performances and clinics, at Musikmesse Frankfurt[13], European Bass Day[14], and music stores across Germany, and performed live with Gregg Bissonette and Walfredo Reyes Jr. After leaving Darkseed in 2006, Motnik joined German Neue Deutsche Härte band Eisbrecher as their live bass player, performing on two European tours and at several festivals[15]. He also performed on several national TV shows as a sideline musician, backing national acts such as Karel Gott, Helene Fischer, and Peter Kraus[16]. In 2007 Motnik participated in a World Record attempt as part of the largest guitar ensemble, performing the song “Smoke on the Water” along with 1801 other guitarists[17], which gained them the entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Career in the United States

In the beginning of 2008 Motnik moved from Germany to Los Angeles, CA to pursue his career in the United States. Shortly after his arrival and during his attendance of the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA Motnik met Grateful Dead bass player Phil Lesh at the booth of his endorsing company Ritter Basses. Lesh asked if he could try out Motnik’s custom 6 strings Roya bass that was on display, and was highly impressed by the playability, stating “this is the best playing six strings I’ve ever played”. This was for partially due to the custom string spacing Motnik had developed with luthier Jens Ritter, with six strings on the neck width of a regular five string bass. The conversation led to a collaboration between Lesh and Ritter, and resulted in the production of a limited edition of 10 signature Phil Lesh basses, named “The Eye of Horus”, featuring Motnik’s custom string spacing.[18] In July 2011, the Smithsonian Institute acquired one of the “Eye of Horus” basses, and it is now on display at the museum. It is the second instrument that the museum owns for the species “Electric Bass”, next to the Fender Precision Bass.[19]

During the following months, Motnik performed with several artists in and around Los Angeles, such as Rock Star Supernova winner Lukas Rossi and Jesse Money as the opening act for Rick Springfield, and started developing his online recording service website[20]. He temporarily returned to Germany for a European tour with Munich-based rock band The Roxx[21] as the opening act for singer Graham Bonnet.[22] Back in Los Angeles Motnik was asked to join former Scorpions guitar player Uli Jon Roth on his 2008 US tour. The cross-country tour, leading from Los Angeles to New York City[23], was fronted by former Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Mark Boals and female vocalist Liz Vandall[24], and featured guest appearances by Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke and singer Don Dokken. Motnik toured with Roth through North America again in 2009[25] and 2012[26].

After moving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, NV[27] in 2009, Motnik expanded his studio to record bass tracks for other artists over the internet, which led to sessions on albums together with Michael Landau[28], Kenny Aronoff, Marco Minnemann[29] or Chad Wackerman[30]. In 2013 Motnik was hired to collaborate with studio musicians Hal Blaine and Don Randi of the Wrecking Crew. Together they recorded the soundtrack for a yet to be released movie by Jerry Weintraub, as well as the song “Flat Broke and Lonesome”, written by Blaine as a homage to Johnny Cash[31].

Motnik has performed with Dale Bozzio’s Missing Persons, and was offered to join Canadian metal band Annihilator, but scheduling conflicts inhibited the collaboration. He is a founding member of the Las Vegas Jazz Trio[32], and continues to freelance for several Las Vegas-based acts, performing regularly at various live venues and casino resorts on and off the Las Vegas Strip; in that context he has performed with Jimmy Crespo, Paul Shortino, and Michael T. Ross. Motnik had also been invited to audition for the artist group Cirque du Soleil and is now part of their musician roster[33]. He performs clinics, teaching about bass playing techniques and the music business from the viewpoint of a professional musician[34].



© Martin Motnik 2014