Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I recently got the chance to interview Kevin Max via email. Here is what came out of it. A big thanks to Kevin for allowing me the time to pick his brain, Kevin's manager Greg for setting this up, and my wife for her editing skills!
Society’s Elite: The 90's had its share of great bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. A common theme in that musical era was angst, through which the bands connected with people who could relate. Now, there's been an obvious cultural shift in our society. We are finding themes of searching for love, spirituality, and a sense of belonging. How does your music fit in this cultural state we are now in?
Kevin Max: I think my music has always been about my poetry. I think that the images that are in my head and the thoughts that I write down are in a direct response to the society that we all live in. Music is universal and I don't find mine to be any different that anyone elses.
Society’s Elite: You've been doing this music thing for some time now and I'm sure you've seen the many trends come and go. Some artists put out a big hit, and then they disappear. You obviously have the talent and creativity to go big if you wanted to. Yet, you seem to stay true to your own style without "selling out". Were you ever tempted in the past to jump on whatever was the latest fad just to sell more albums? If so, what kept you from doing it?
Kevin Max: No, I have never been interested in fads or selling out to fit a genre. However, I do think that writing music for the radio and the masses is something I aspire to, I must not be very good at it though. Haha.
Society’s Elite: It’s clear you are inspired by a lot of great musicians, and yet you keep your individuality in your music. How are you able to absorb all these musical influences without getting yourself lost in them and having your songs sound like a rip-off of another artist?
Kevin Max: Well, there are several critics that have said the opposite, that I wear my inspirations to gladly on my sleeve. But I think that I try to work with musical history and put my own embellishments into the process. I think that it is more important to strive to be original than to be flash in the pan.
Society’s Elite: You appear to be very transparent about yourself and your flaws. To me, that is something encouraging to those who are tired of the pretense so pervasive in our society. Was there ever a time when the thought of being brutally honest about yourself scared the shit out of you? If so, how did you deal with it?
Kevin Max: No, I have never been scared about being honest to the public. I think that is what music should be about, poetry can be more hidden, more subtle, but the duty of music is to relate. I know that in certain industries being overtly honest can get you into trouble, I try to be careful when it comes to my family and my private life. I like to guard and defend that against people that just want to make something ugly out of something beautiful.
Society’s Elite: Is there a difference between Kevin Max the regular guy and Kevin Max the performer? Do you ever find yourself changing personalities, or is Kevin Max the performer the real you?
Kevin Max: Well, when I was with dctalk, there was a bit of showmanship in every move we made onstage. It was bigger movement to fit the arena size shows that we would play quite often. Today, I think that my stage show is more intimate out of necessity. I do not have the large touring budgets that dctalk had, if I could, I would have my own sound, lights and video programming. I am in love with theater, and bringing people a show.
Society’s Elite: So far as a solo artist, you've released three albums—Stereotype Be, Between The Fence And The Universe, and The Imposter. There’s clearly been a transition to where you are now musically since the first one. Can you explain what each album means to you and what is special about them?
Kevin Max: Stereotype Be was the genesis project for me, it was the first time that I was allowed to write down and perform my own thoughts, and on the budget that was equal to the dream. It was a great time, one I will always cherish.....Between the Fence was a demo project that I made, having fun in the studio with friends after Forefront decided to part ways with me. I still don't quite understand why it all happened, there were so many opinions about my music. I think it boils down to the fact that I created something that was new and couldn't be marketed as easily as dctalk. The Imposter was an independent project with very small budgets, but I was very interested in making a rock and roll record. Something that was more stripped back, I wanted to lose all of the 'over the top production' and get down to the basics of the song. Obviously, The Imposter was still quite adventurous, with songs ranging from rock to techno/ballads.
Society’s Elite: One thing great about your music is the deep questioning about life and constant wrestling with it, while embracing the mystery of God. In terms of your songwriting, do your songs stem directly from personal experiences?
Kevin Max: Again, I think that I write directly about what is going on around me. I think that I wrestle with my faith at times as much as I wrestle with myself on issues. I think we are all creatures of doubt as much as creatures of belief. I think to ask questions in music is more interesting than giving the answers.
Society’s Elite: Who or what has greatly inspired you in music, in literature, and in art, if any?
Kevin Max: I am inspired by a wide assortment of characters. I would say William Blake as a poet and probably The Beatles as a musical force, were the top 2 influences on my creativity.
Society’s Elite: You've performed at the Viper Room and various other places. Which has been your favorite to perform at? Where would you like to perform that you haven't yet?
Kevin Max: I would love to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and I am getting that opportunity in May!! The Viper room has been good to me, they really love my live show and my voice. I get a kick out of the staff standing around listening to my soundchecks.
Society’s Elite: Could you talk about any projects you are currently working on?
Kevin Max: I am in the middle of getting a deal done for the next project. I want this one to be epic. I will probably do a side project before it though. I love to be able to balance big ideas with small ones. I have been entertaining the idea of doing a gospel project for quite sometime called The Blood. This would be a collection of old black gospel songs and classics, done in a very stripped down style.
Society’s Elite: What can we expect from K-Max in 2007 and beyond?
Kevin Max: Fatherhood, relevance, intrigue and production.
Society’s Elite: It's obvious you're into the European culture. What is it about that culture that fascinates you?
Kevin Max: I will always be an anglophile. I have always been interested in their way of life, humor and fashion. I think British humor is a pervasive force in the world. I think that without it we would not have The Beatles or Queen, The Who, great rock bands that blended theatre, humor and angst.
Society’s Elite: My wife jokingly says that if you lived in the middle ages, you would have probably been a minstrel. Any thoughts on that?
Kevin Max: Haha, um not really. I would have really liked the clothes but not the lack of modern emenities.
Society’s Elite: When it's time for you to leave this life behind, what do you want people to remember you for? What would you want written on your tombstone?
Kevin Max: Kevin Max-Poet, Father, Husband, Singer.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Today, during a discussion about the show Growing Pains, I remembered Mike Seaver's friend "Boner". I think Boner was one of the most underrated characters in TV history. I wonder what it was like when the producers for Growing Pains sat around and thought of character names.
"Hey, I have a great idea. For Mike Seaver's character, let's give him a friend named BONER!"
It makes you wonder.....
Boner, wherever you are, we salute you!
Friday, February 09, 2007
"No Place To Be"
You can tell an artist is getting hot when his songs get remixed. I mean, have you ever heard a bad song remixed? Ok, forget that last sentence, because I just realized that I have heard some bad remixes. But to stay on topic, I will not be writing about any bad songs here. Anyway, I got a copy of Matisyahu's "No Place To Be". Yes, the hasidic reggae singer returns with some surprises since his last album. One of the best surprises is his version of Sting's "Message In A Bottle". If you thought a hasidic reggae singer covering that sounds like a joke, then think again. His version puts a reggae twist to the original, showing how versatile his skills are. The other mixes sound like they were straight from an underground mix tape, making the album more raw. On the DVD included, there's a live show he did in Jerusalem, which is awesome if you never got to see him live. In between each song is an interview where Matisyahu shares a little about himself, and his musical inspirations. No Place To Be is a nice release until his next full length is put out.
at 1:13 PM
Friday, February 02, 2007
So the Mayor leaked the news that Rage Against The Machine is getting back together. If you're a Rage fan, I'm happy for you. But that's not as exciting as the (drumroll please) SMASHING PUMPKINS getting back together for a new album! God bless you Mr. Corgan and band. Now hurry the hell up and finish that album!
at 1:32 PM