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No rest for Sound Sleeper

Alex Martinez is a family man, a corporate chef and a reformed punk rocker. He's long removed from the 11 years spent thrashing at clubs as frontman for the hardcore-punk trio Sunday Driver.

But he's not that reformed. On Thursday, Jan. 15, Martinez's trio Sound Sleeper will perform an album-release party for its debut EP, "A Perfect Sea for Drowning," at Churchill's Pub in Miami. The six-song record is an amalgam of blues, soul and punk rock created from the ashes of Sunday Driver, which folded in 2010, and recorded after a yearlong hiatus when Martinez says he stopped turning down "all those cheffing jobs I said 'no' to on the road."

Speaking from his home in Pembroke Pines, Martinez sounds tired, and says being a corporate chef for Miami Beach's Havana 1957, Segafredo Brickell and other restaurants under the V&E Restaurant Group umbrella is more a source of weariness these days than Sound Sleeper.

"With Sunday Driver, we were playing nonstop, so much that fans joked that we'd never go home," says Martinez, 39. "Now, we're older, and we're not trying to go out for the independent tour thing from scratch. Let Mick [Jagger] and Keith [Richards] have the road. What it all comes down to is, if I go out touring all year, I won't make nearly as much money as I would as a chef. I have a family, I have music, and I have a life."

And he has a passion, which is evident all over "A Perfect Sea for Drowning," which includes guitarist Charlie Suarez (formerly of Atlanta hard-rock group MonstrO) and bassist Arnold Nese. The opening single, "Celsius vs. Fahrenheit," is a showcase for Martinez's soft, plaintive vocals against a backdrop of scorching blues riffs.

The single "Chinese Firedrill Underwater," with lyrics such as, "I slowly drove my car into the sea, you were here with me, and on my way down, you said to me, 'How could we find this endless sea?' " is a blues rock- and violin-soaked callback to the EP's title. Martinez says the blues influence is entirely "unconscious," taking his musical inspiration instead from "crazy death-metal bands."

"I'm not musically trained or anything. I mean, I listen to Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine,' or new guys like John Mayer and Joe Bonamassa, but not on a regular basis," says Martinez, who recorded Sound Sleeper's EP over three years. "But I'm loving the absolute chaos of Dillinger Escape Plan, and [the album] 'Slip' by Quicksand is on my replay button forever. It's weird."

Martinez says he doesn't expect Sound Sleeper to change his chef-by-day-rocker-by-night rhythm, and the band's schedule only includes sporadic dates (a second performance is scheduled for Feb. 28 at Fort Lauderdale's Poorhouse Bar).

"These are the two things I know how to do in life: cooking and music," Martinez says with a laugh. "It's hard to say which one I love doing more."

Sound Sleeper will perform 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., in Miami. Tickets cost $7, with openers Heavy Drag, the Band in Heaven and Ex Norwegian. Vinyl copies of Sound Sleeper's "A Perfect Sea for Drowning" cost $12. Call 305-757-1807 or go to ChurchillsPub.com.

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