MAAX (U.S.) Interview by www.hailsandhorns.com

MAAX (U.S.) Interview

by www.hailsandhorns.com

Brett Schlagel and Kyle Kreider of Maax talk about Unholy Rock & Roll, best advice from other bands, the music scene in the Midwest, and more

By Kimberly Brown

Only one year after the release of their Six Pack Witchcraft EP, MAAX, (pronounced May-Axe), is back with their second full length, Unholy Rock & Roll. This Indianapolis based 5-piece takes no prisoners and delivers the rock n roll metal that many bands promise but few can deliver. Unholy Rock N Roll is consistent booze infused biker rock that demands your attention. Speed and urgency, chugging doom, gruff growling vocals, evil lyrics… this band is metal to their core. MAAX forges their own sound of 80’s metal infused with an unapologetic black metal that makes you want to go out, get drunk, and start fights.

The bands latest album, Unholy Rock & Roll, is old school influenced with so much passion in it. If you were writing the review of this album what would you say? What bands would you put under the “sounds like” section?

BRETT: If I were to review my own album I’d have to give it a 5 out of 5, but then again it’d be a biased review anyways! So, with that kept in mind, I’d say Unholy Rock & Roll is MAAX’s best album thus far and leaves the listener wanting more dirty old school black and roll. The album definitely brings forth the true musicianship of the members with a cleaner production than the previous EP, Six Pack Witchcraft. You can hear everything note for note. Bigger choruses, bigger riffs, bigger solos, and that hell-raising-beer-chugging-sleaze-injected-Luciferian-biker swagger that bares its ugly teeth through the overall package keeps our listeners on their toes with their devil horns in the air while chanting line for line in the faces of the metalhead in the pit beside them.

KYLE: Unholy Rock & Roll is exactly what the title implies. It’s hard to pin us down as to what exactly we sound like I guess. The genre bending is too much for some folks/listeners but at the same time our sound is unmistakably unapologetic and unrestrained heavy fuckin’ metal!

BRETT: If MOTORHEAD, MOTLEY CRUE, CELTIC FROST, and VENOM had an ugly ass mole-faced love child that had an uncontrollable lust for sluts, booze, motorcycles, and the Devil… it’s name would be MAAX.

KYLE: Sounds like hell! Old school new wave British heavy metal meets Appetite For Destruction, played by VENOM with some crusty punk a la DARKTHRONE.

What are the concepts behind, Unholy Rock & Roll? How did the writing and recording process go?

BRETT: Unholy Rock & Roll is about the four main elements that make this shit-fuck of a world turn: booze, bitches, bikes, and of course good ol’ Satan. The album maintains a perfect balance of all four key elements. Writing was an extensive process. We knew what we wanted and we weren’t stopping until we achieved just that. That isn’t just to say for the album just as itself, each song had weeks and some even months of time invested into tweaking each aspect of the tracks to be just so. After we wrote a song we would ask ourselves, “What would Lucifer put this on his iPod’s playlist while out terrorizing the local nunnery on his Harley?”

KYLE: We just pounded it out at band rehearsal night after night and some of the songs on URR were around during our debut, Dawnbringer. We just never committed those songs to tape because of the “difference” in the material. Dawnbringer was a more full throttle black metal album and the following EP, Six Pack Witchcraft, started to find the newer sound emerging and we still kept a few of the tracks back for Unholy; “Black Thrash Em’ All,” and the title track, “Unholy Rock & Roll.” Those early versions of said tracks were written during the MAAX mark one era.

BRETT: We really tapped into our 80’s riff locker on this album. We all have our influences and it really shines through on URR. We wanted that 80’s feel but didn’t want to stray to far from our roots in black metal either, so here you have a solid black and roll full- length.

KYLE: Brett and myself are big old school metal fans and old school sounding riffs are like second nature to us so having Brett in the second guitar seat on this record you can hear how our collaboration really took shape. It was a very natural progression and I think that envelope could be pushed even further in the context of our particular fashion of Ax’ and Roll!

BRETT: We are a live band and all though the record has a polished and cleaner production quality we still wanted to maintain that live and in-your-face feel. We recorded it live in the studio with the exception of the leads and vocals. If we fucked up we did it again, no questions asked. Jeff Montgomery of Ensomberoom really helped us achieve that production sound we were looking for.

KYLE: I’m of the MOTORHEAD thought process on the recording of albums; I like to do as much as possible live.

What is the best advice you’ve received from another band?

BRETT: “Get it in writing.” This could possibly be the greatest piece of advice around for a musician. There isn’t anything quite like being guaranteed a large sum of money and after you’re done playing the event coordinator takes off with the door money, the raffle money for the custom guitars, and the guitars, thus leaving you stranded 2000 miles from home! Sometimes writing still isn’t enough no matter how well you are prepared. Unfortunately there are people out there who make a living fucking someone else and I’m not talking about porn. A pay-to-play is not an uncommon thing when you are dealing with huge headliners. One time in particular a pay-to-play gig came about with a major act, after meeting with the three men in business suits representing the promotional company and the one rep from the managing agency. We signed our contracts, paid our cash, and were handed our pre-sale tickets. We even contacted the major act’s tour manager to be sure they were booked and the deposit had been paid. Long story short these people used fake names, throw away prepaid phones, and fronted the deposit to the big act to score a briefcase full of cash estimated at about $12k and disappeared.

KYLE: Work smarter not harder, and always get it in writing. We have all had to go through the trials and tribulations of being a young band or taking that gamble that ultimately blows up in your face but I’ve also learned with any amount of success you achieve things hardly change.

What are the best and worst things about your hometown, Indianapolis? Music and non-music related.

BRETT: This scene is tapped…I mean drier than a nun’s cunt. There aren’t many opportunities around here that offer anything promising. Yeah we will play local pubs here and there but half the time the only people promoting the show is us. What happened to the street teams that would wallpaper a side of a building with fliers? We have to travel if we want anything worthwhile.

KYLE: There are always small pockets of fans who genuinely enjoy what you do but it a scene like Indianapolis where the majority of Metal fans are in bands themselves so you get a clique and we’ve never been “cool” enough to get involved in their loop or gig cycle, if it were not for Dan Ferguson (Abyss Records) Indianapolis would not be on our radar. Having said that there are some amazing metal bands/musicians in that town and collaborative projects pop up all the time. In my town there are food joints and more food joints, or major shopping chains. The local music scene is one I’d rather not even comment on. Let’s just say it’s a hit and miss and I’m a cynical asshole! There are some great pubs though and we have had many a good time and some of our best local gigs at The Heorot Pub And Draught House.

BRETT: The only highlight about this place is food. If you are hungry DON’T WORRY we got your sandwich-loving ass covered! Not much to do or see unless you like to eat or shop for useless shit. If you’re into getting asked for change 50 fucking times by the same guy outside the bar then come on over, he won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Did you find that it was harder to get noticed being from the Midwest? Did the band have to travel to larger cities, like Chicago or Detroit, where music was more accessible and more shows were happening?

BRETT: The Midwest is a tough place to conquer, being in the “Bible Belt” bullshit and all. You know those Christian protesting fucks who if you fart in too high of a pitch you are going to burn in the everlasting firey pits of Hell. We got them here. They don’t realize we already have reservations in room 666 right next door to Aleister Crowley. However, Dan Ferguson of Abyss Records in Indianapolis found us and it has been a great relationship ever since. He does a lot for us and always manages to make it out to shows, spite his busy schedule with the other bands on the label, his online label site and store, as well as family life.

KYLE: Even in those bigger cities the exposure and success rate of a gig are a hit and miss Midwest speaking that is Maax has yet to tap the West Coast or even the East Coast extensively yet.

Who were your biggest influences when growing up that planted the musical seed in you?

BRETT: There were many. If I had to narrow it down to 3 (which is really hard to do by the way!) I’d have to say DEF LEPPARD’S, High and Dry, JUDAS PRIEST’S, Defenders of Faith, and OZZY’S, Diary of a Madman, are the three most influential albums for me. I remember watching metal videos late at night on MTV (when they played music) and seeing the “larger than life” aspect that came with 80’s metal and wanting to be a part of it so bad I nearly shit my Mr. T footie pajamas. My dad played guitar and showed me the basics, from there I learned every metal riff I could and started diving into heavier music until I found black metal and nested myself in the comfort of frost bitten vocals and guitar badassery.

KYLE: I was lucky enough to at least be old enough to witness and pay attention to the 80′s. 1987 in particular was where it all started for me musically, Headbangers Ball on MTV was good back then so I got a great mixture of Thrash and Hair metal from that and my mom bought me a TWISTED SISTER, Stay Hungry LP, and it was all over from there. That’s what I spent my allowance on every week, a new cassette tape or record. Gene Simmons (KISS), OZZY OSBOURNE, and JUDAS PRIEST were taboo with the older folks so of course I had to have it. Thanks to Geraldo Rivera and 80′s daytime talk shows and crappy segments on heavy metal and Satanism I found SLAYER and progressively got heavier as I matured into the fledgling maniac of metal today!

What was the music scene like in Indiana when you were growing up? What are MAAX’S favorite bands to play from the area?

BRETT: Back in the day people would actually leave their couch to come to a show and buy merch! It used to be band flier city on the weekends. Everyone supported everyone. Brothers helping brothers. Today it seems to be a little more cutthroat and promoting is strictly through online social networking. If MySpace or Facebook hadn’t come into the picture people wouldn’t be glued to their computer screens waiting to see if Joe Dicksinmouth likes the comment you left on his picture of the dog with the sunglasses. Although it does have its advantages. The internet doesn’t come without downfalls elsewhere. You can do everything from home now so why go out when you can hide behind your screen and a picture of you six years ago when you were 150 pounds skinnier.

KYLE: The 90′s were cool locally. There was a gig of some sort every night and more heavy bands at the time. We really don’t have much of a choice there are only two “extreme” metal bands in our area and we get along splendidly.

BRETT: LEGION and NECROPHAGOUS are both favorites of MAAX and are definitely worth looking into!

What was the first band shirt you ever got?

KYLE: MOTLEY CRUE, Dr. Feelgood, shirt with the Aleister Fiend thing on it! Damn I must have had an arsenal of CRUE shirts!

How did everyone in MAAX come together? When and why did you want to make music together? What dynamics does each member bring to the band?

BRETT: MAAX formed from the ashes of another band known as DYNGYR (pronounced Die-in-gear). Kyle Krieder, Jeff Brown, and Sky Kingery collaborated on MAAX in the beginning of it all and spread the foundations for what MAAX has become today. Kyle, Jeff, and Sky wrote and recorded, Dawnbringer, together. Shortly after the album was released, Sky left to pursue other endeavors in his life. This left both the vocals and bass positions open. I (Brett Schlagel) gave Kyle a call upon hearing the news and told him, “I’ve got the bass and the skill,” and the next day I was MAAX’s new bass player. Tim Greene came into the picture just after I did with the vocals that sound like something from Hell itself… which fit us perfectly. After writing and recording, Six Pack Witchcraft, I traded the old bass in for a Les Paul and we started the makings of, Unholy Rock & Roll, with Jeremy Starkey of NECROPHAGOUS on bass. Unholy is a solid album with an even more solid line up. Just a few weeks before Unholy was to be released to the public Jeff Brown departed from MAAX to follow other endeavors as well. So what is a black metal band without a solid drummer? This is where Dave Dalton comes in. This guy is a machine and is one of the most incredible drummers I’ve yet to meet. Dave has been with Kyle, Tim, Jeremy, and I now for several months and I must say… MAAX is heavier than ever and is a hell of a force to be reckoned with. The next recordings are sure to drop jaws.

BRETT: Everyone is talented for sure, Kyle has a lot of knowledge in all things metal and knows his way around a fret board, Tim has that poisonous voice that was a gift that came with a return address to hell, Jeremy is one of the most solid bass players I’ve ever met and also has an extensive knowledge of everything from recording to bands’ history, Dave is fucking machine, this dude’s kicks never stop and never miss a beat, I’ve seen the contract he signed the Lucifer. I bring the leads and the same passion for the music we all share.

KYLE: I come with knowledge of all things metal and a beer gut to prove it! Oh yeah, and I play guitar!

MAAX had some major lineup changes in the beginning. Was it hard to adjust or do you feel like the current lineup is a solid one?

BRETT: The current line is more solid than ever. We had the proverbial “revolving door” for a minute but things evened out. Life happens and people have to move on to adjust to it. Roll with the punches per se.

What was the last band you saw live that really blew you away? Any new comers to the scene that you’d like readers to check out?

BRETT: MOTLEY CRUE never fails to impress and keep it as big of a show today as it was in the 80’s with flamethrowers, drumcoasters, mirror piano, and chicks…mmm, yes the chicks.

KYLE: GRAVEHILL! Our bros from Cali, and one to watch for sure!

BRETT: HOD from San Antonio is a band to keep your eye on, with an original member from THE MURDER JUNKIES. They are sure to put on an entertaining show while slaying forth killer riffage. Another band to look out for is THE HORDE from Illinois. Viking metal dudes that are talented fuck with badass tunes.

What has been MAAX’S biggest obstacle so far and how did the band overcome it?

BRETT: The biggest obstacle for MAAX is that we are…uh…economically challenged. There isn’t enough green stuff to go around in the original music world! We still have yet to figure that part out.

KYLE: Also geographically challenged and that’s where the economic challenge comes in effect, it takes a band literally over half if not all expenses to travel.

What can fans expect from MAAX in 2012?

BRETT: We are in the works of a 7″ vinyl release and are currently writing for another possible full length. There were talks about releasing something in December 2012 but we didn’t want to be directly responsible for the apocalypse just yet.

KYLE: The Abyss Records website or our Facebook page for all updates on what the band is doing. We are planning on a single 7′ with a B side next featuring a new song called, “Midnight High” We are always in writing mode and plan on compiling some rehearsal demos as well for release on an undecided format yet. Maybe good old school cassette tape! Watch out for our METAL FOR THE DEVIL 2012!

Interview link: www.hailsandhorns.com/featuresandinterviews/brett-schlagel-and-kyle-kreider-of-maax-talk-about-unholy-rock-roll-best-advice-from-other-bands-the-music-scene-in-the-midwest-and-more/

Maax links:

Myspace: www.myspace.com/maaxmetal

Facebook: www.facebook.com/maaxmetal

Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/maax

Last fm: www.last.fm/music/Maax

Abyss Records links:

Online Label & Online Music Store: www.officialabyssrecords.com

Myspace: www.myspace.com/abyssrecordsofficial

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Abyss-Records/164573050232055

Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/label/abyssrecords

Last fm: www.last.fm/label/AbyssRecords

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/MinionfortheAbyss

Other links:

To purchase MAAX “Unholy Rock & Roll” DIGI CD and other Maax merchandise go to: www.officialabyssrecords.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=maax

To preview a song from their 2010 release “Six Pack Witchcraft” go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=giNCctZobOE

and to preview a song from their debut album “Dawnbringer” go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uNDPFcYcdw

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