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"Turn Up The Stradio"

For Martin Acosta and Mike Kovacs, getting lost in the rock ‘n roll is just a signature away. If all plays out according to the internal screenplay running through their minds, the two first year Ryerson students may soon be trading in the classroom for the recording studio, all in the name of making music.

Meet Stradio. Along with Acosta and Kovacs, the four-man band includes guitarist Jay Formosa and drummer Kyle Lazenka. They came together three years ago with Acosta on the vocals and guitar, and Kovacs on bass. What culminated is a sound self-described as a hybrid of U2 meets Coldplay. Throw in a pinch of Bon Jovi too.

In the process of closing and international record deal with the German label Maxi Media, both Acosta and Kovacs can’t contain their excitement. They openly flirt with the idea of going all the way. “You got to shoot for the best,” says Kovacs, who envisions selling a million records and more one day.

It’s an ambitious goal for the two boys who have barely broken into their 20’s, but however naïve their dream, the anticipated signing has the seeing platinum.

Four weeks into the semester, both Acosta and Kovacs admit school is secondary to music. “Truth be told, I didn’t want to go to school,” says radio and television arts student Acosta. After taking two years off after high school to dedicate to music, Acosta says “I was kind of obligated.” This from his parents, natives of Argentina, who immigrated to Canada when Acosta was six years old. “My father risked everything coming here and he just doesn’t want me to screw up.”

Acosta says that his parents support his music, but advised applying to Ryerson wouldn’t hurt. Martin agreed, and RTA fit the bill being a program related to the industry he eagerly wants to enter. “When people ask what I do, I don’t say I’m and student, I’m a musician, “ Acosta admits. He thinks it may be fate that’s brought him to this place. Acosta remembers his years as an aspiring soccer player with the Canadian national youth teams. Soccer was the plan. But by his own admission, an injury that sidelined him at 16, thus initiated a fortunate series of events. “Because my knee busted, I found wanted to do. I’m so lucky.”

While Acosta is resolute in what the future holds, Kovacs is more conservative with his take on academics and whether the band will fly or fall with the impending record contract. The criminal justice major understands school is a good thing, though only a back-up to keep his imagination in check, confessing, “If something big comes along, I’d definitely leave school.”

And if the music fades, there’s no CSI-type detective work in Kovac’s future. He is taking criminal justice out of interest, but favors a career in real estate instead. Although his path is a distant alternative to the here and now.

“I’m very much at a state of disarray and turmoil,” says Kovacs. He’s desparate to know whether the record label they are working with this time around is a done deal. “I think about it all the time,” he says, wishing something would turn either way.

Kovacs and Acosta are not strangers to the cruel business of one hit wonders. They have come close – whatever that means – to the dotted line before and they’ve also turned down various labels because it wasn’t the right fit.

With rejection comes heartache. “We’ve been so close so many times it just hurts,” says Acosta, which was the case with a Universal Canada deal that ultimately fell through. Memories of cracked champagne bottes and celebration, all done prematurely, has him on the defensive. “I’m not at liberty to say.” Acosta says about whether this deal is in the bag.

With the show biz lingo down, you can tell that the articulate front man is a Chris Martin in the making. With striking dark features, he certainly sings the anthem and wears the uniform, but is this just another boy band?

Stradio’s manager, Norm Sharpe, believes the band will receive a good response if the group is well marketed. “I think they have potential to impact people through their music,” says Sharpe.

By impact, perhaps Sharpe means make the ladies swoon. If Stradio’s boyish good looks don’t make the girls cry, their lyrics will. “When my heart hits the ground, are you close enough to hear the sound?” sings Acosta in a song called Broken.

I’m thinking that you’re going to have the 10 year old girls who like them, the 20 year old girls and the 40 year old moms too,” says Sharpe. It’s an easy sell in his eyes, and being the dollar and cents man he is, Sharpe is careful not to limit Stradio’s marketability. “It rocks enough that the guys would like them and it’s certainly emotional enough for the ladies too,” he adds at the end.

Kovac’s says Stradio’s sound is admittedly pop, but unlike ones who dance or hoedown like a certain Ms. Simpson, he proudly says, “I know we’re good live.”

As for the name, it was conceived in a fitting dream. “I had a dream t - The Ryersonian, Sept. 2005

"Singer Knows The Value of Family"

Mississauga musician Martin Acosta knows all about the importance of family.

Born in Argentina during the politically turbulent 1980’s, his family fled the country for a better life in Canada when he was 7 years old.

“We got here and all we had is each other,” said Acosta, 20, the front man for local pop band Stradio. “Only my immediate family came. Everyone else is still in Argentina, so we became close. The whole experience affects not only the type of music I write, but my drive to succeed as well. My father worked hard for everything we have and I appreciate that.”

Stradio performs tonight at the El Mocambo. Show time is 9 pm.

Together for two and a half years, Stradio formed when Acosta and his food friend and fellow Mississaugan Mike Kovacs, who plays bass, found drummer Kyle Lazenka and guitarist Jay Formosa playing with another band. The guys teamed up and haven’t looked back.

You don’t go to a club and see bands like ours. Although we have a commercial kind of sound, that’s not at the forefront (of popular music) right now,” said Acosta, a St. Martin Secondary School graduate.

Acosta has a strong voice and, at times, the music sound similar to pop-rock outfit Matchbox 20. Influenced by acts like U2, Phil Collins, and The Police, Acosta admits it’s a little strange for teenage to be listening to a soft-rock crooner like Collins.

“Yeah,m a kid like me wouldn’t normally listen to him otherwise, but I have a couple of much older brothers who like him. I’m really attracted to his songwriting style,” said Acosta.

Playing a regular monthly gig at the El Mocambo, Stradio has also performed at such noted Toronto venues as The Mod Club and Horseshoe Tavern. Tonight’s show is supposed to be an industry showcase with A&R representatives from several major labels, such as Epic Records, in attendance.
- The Mississauga News, April 2005


New band with first CD to be released in 2006.



Fresh out of high school (Class of ’03) and barely legal drinking age in his adopted hometown of Toronto, 20-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist Martin Acosta has already lived more life than most people twice his age. Born in turbulent Argentina at the tail-end of the Central American Anti-Communist Crusade in 1984, young Martin brought with him a love of soccer and music when his father, a private jetliner pilot, relocated the family to Canada a few years later in search of a better life. By age 15, Martin was being scouted to play professional soccer, but a knee injury forced him to revise his career plan, and he immersed himself in music instead. Privately he learned to play the guitar and started writing, while publicly he joined a band, playing drums. It was not until the band’s singer missed rehearsal that Martin set up the microphone next to his drum kit and started singing—at first as a joke—and unearthed yet another one of his gifts. Shortly thereafter, Martin and his best friend, bass player and second-degree black belt Mike Kovacs, set out to form a new band, this time with Martin on vocals and guitar. Martin and Mike hooked up with guitarist Jay Formosa and drummer Kyle Lazenka, and STRADIO was born.

As Martin puts it, “The chemistry was immediately evident inside and outside of the rehearsals, and we knew that it was going to be the beginning of something totally wicked. We all take our parts and add flavour, so that when people hear it, they can better understand our emotions and how we feel just by listening to the way we play our instruments.” That understanding also translates around the globe, in that Martin sings both in English and his family’s native language of Spanish.

The band has developed around influences such as U2, The Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty and other very successful artists. Building on the band’s great live shows and solid repertoire of almost 50 songs the band landed a record deal involving German television and record powerhouse Maxi Media and Universal Music. Currently the band is recording its first record in Los Angeles with Stuart Brawley with plans for a release in Canada during the summer and for Europe and the USA in the fall of 2006.