Interview with Hirax Max
(Taken from The Crass Menagerie
CM: I wanted to start by asking you about the
SPAZZ national tour, how you
felt it went and the highlights and lowlights
Max: Um... The tour was the best thing
that has ever happened to SPAZZ.
It was insane. I have played out of town
shows but they were always single
things, so like the tour, for me, was like I
was a total amateur. Y'know
playing every single night and getting in the
routine. That was one aspect
of it. The other aspect was just meeting
everyone. That was the best part
of it was meeting everyone. And like all
the bands that we played with. I
knew there were a lot of good bands in the U.S.
but I didn't know that
there were so many. There are so many great
bands out there that will
probably like never be heard of or will like
stay at demo status and they
like fuckin rule over the bands that have like
three records out. I mean
there are bands out in the middle of nowhere,
like out in the middle of the
cornfields of the mid-west that like rule over
the bands that everybody
worships. I think the best thing about
the tour was that we toured at
exactly the right time because I think hardcore
is on the upswing right
now. I don't know if it is peaking or even
on its way down, because that
is how things work, they work in cycles.
But it was the best time to tour
because like everyone was really amped and everyone
was really psyched.
Everywhere we went people were like so glad to
see us because they say that
they had been waiting forever to see like fast,
noisy hardcore. So the
reception was really good. The one show
that sticks int he memory was a
show out in Greenville, North Carolina.
And every body was like, "North
Carolina? Dude there is nothing in North
Carolina." C.O.C. was from
Raleigh but that was about it y'know. So
we are driving out on these two
lane roads for like five or six hours in the
middle of nowhere and we are
passing all these farms that have like crosses
in front of them that are
like life sized and we are like going "Dude,
where are we?" And pull into
this college town and we pull into this skate
park and there are like a 150
kids and most of them all really young.
And most of them skating. They
couldn't give a crap about the music but when
we started playing the kids
went totally insane. They were jumping
all overt the place. I felt like
one of the biggest shows we did, but it probably
wasn't but the reception
was just overwhelming. Who would have thought
that Greenville would be one
of our best shows, y;know? It was rad.
CM: So how would you gage the success of SPAZZ?
I read in Slug and
Lettuce where they were saying you have reached
Max: Well that is interesting. This isn't
really answering your question
but we met the lady who does Slug and Lettuce.
And we are all like always
reading that she doesn't really like SPAZZ
but she was touring with Neal
>from Tribal War who was following AVAIL.
We were in Denton, Texas. If we
hadn't been playing with AVAIL it probably
would have been a 10 person show
(laughs) but we met here and we just clicked.
We totally respected here
and she totally respected us and we just talked
and talked and talked. It
was funny, you know with the setting being an
AVAIL show. I mean judging
>from reading Slug and Lettuce you would think
that it would be some bristle
haired punk show (laughs). But to answer
your question I think the reason
that Slug and Lettuce said that is because when
we went through New York we
played like four shows but I wouldn't say that
it is cult status.
CM: How do you feel when you are reading a zine
and somebody cites SPAZZ or
even Max Ward as an influence?
Max: The citing of Max Ward is like total crap
because I think that is the
worst thing that you can do is like point out
an individual. It is just
weird. I don't really like it. I
mean people citing SPAZZ, that is cool.
CM: But Max, when the table is turned and you
are citing your influences,
don't you cite people by name?
Max: Um..... (long pause) Yeah. That
is a really good point. I guess
when I cite people it is like people I have met
and so they are people I
totally look up to because I know them.
It is not like that they have put
themselves out there to be admired. But,
I guess you are right on that
one. It is just that is seems like... Well
like now people know who I am
and that is really weird. I mean like when
I joined CAPITALIST CASUALTIES
they didn't say like "The drummer for SPAZZ
joined C.C." They said like,
"Hirax Max joined C.C." I guess in some ways
that is my fault because I
like have attached my names to things and have
put it out there but I don't
really like it. It is kinda weird.
CM: Of all the SPAZZ releases, which has
got to be over 20 now, do you have
a personal favorite?
Max: My favorite SPAZZ record would be....
(pause) Well I am happiest with
our songwriting and sound and the other band
on the SPAZZ / TOAST split on
H.G. Fact. Even though TOAST in known to
go faster like on all their CDs
and 7"ers and stuff, but I think that they are
phenomenal. If some U.S.
label could release their stuff here I think
that they would be massive.
They are on a pretty big label in Japan so I
don't know how hard that would
be to get there stuff. But for song writing
"One Ghetto to the Next" is
probably my favorite song that we have written.
CM: Live you don't do any vocals, but you do
on the records right?
Max: Yeah on record we like split it 33 - 33
- 33. That is just how we do
it. Like we can usually write two or three
songs a practice and then two
nights before we go into the studio we divvy
out the lyrics 33% all around.
And then after we record the music and it is
time to do the vocals we tape
up the lyrics on the wall and divvy up who sings
what pretty evenly. But
live.... I mean I give props to Dino from DYSTOPIA
or the guy from HHH who
can like hit blast beats all over and I don't
think I can do it. I watch
DYSTOPIA and it like "My God" because
I couldn't so it. I mean after a
show I am out of breathe in a bad way.
I am like fuckin hyperventilating.
I can't imagine getting my breathing pattern
down enough to get out more
than a couple of lines.
CM: So how important in humor to the band?
Max: I don't know. When we first started
writing humorous lyrics it wasn't
like we had an agreement that we would write
humorous lyrics it just that
something that was personally funny to the person
who wrote it. I mean if
the other members of the band get that is ok,
or if the audience gets it
that is even better but there was never an agreement
that we were going to
write funny lyrics. It is just that it
made things soooo much more fun.
It opened things up. Because if you stick
to one main thing, like if
you're thinking this is going to be a pissed
off hardcore band well that
means that every one of your fucking lyrics is
going to be a pissed off
lyric. Like a humorous lyric in there would be
shown as something odd,
y'know? Like outside of the realm.
But with us I don't think that some of
the lyrics even are funny... They are just unusual
and they are written in
such a way that we are taking a stab at someone
in our personal lives but
we put it in such language that nobody can even
understand what we are
trying to say. I guess some people could
find them funny but by even
admitting that they are funny is like saying,
"We are funny!" and I don't
even know if our humor is funny! It (humor)
is not important, but it makes
everything more enjoyable. Practices are
kind of funny. We are all joking
around and that gets funny. But especially
in the studio when we sit down
to write the lyrics that is when it gets really
funny because that is the
first time that others get to see the lyrics.
So as you are reading the
lyrics you can really start laughing and stuff
like that. But then again
its also hexed us to because people see us as
a joke band like STIKKY.
Y'know and the references to STIKKY because
Chris was in STIKKY and SPAZZ
so you can see the transfer of STIKKY
humor into SPAZZ. So it is like good
CM: Do you like the term "power violence"?
Max: Um... I don't personally. But I think
that anyone who is like
strongly against it is just like trying to be
too cool. I mean like back
when I was trading tapes with people in Europe
and out of the blue this
metal started getting into it and people started
getting into like AMEBIX
and I was getting demos from like HELLBASTARD
and DEVIATED INSTINCT and
then when they came out with a record they were
calling it "crushcore" and
I thought that was pretty fuckin' stupid but
it was also pretty funny
because if that is what they wanted to call it
ten OK. I mean look at it
now. Look at grindcore. I mean NAPALM
DEATH coined the term and it stuck.
I think it is all in the way people use it.
I think that power violence is
strictly like a MAN IS THE BASTARD term.
I see nothing now that is any
different from what people were doing in the
mid to late eighties of just
crossing over, and going extremely fast and shit.
Like STRAIGHT AHEAD
could of existed now and LACK OF INTEREST
could have existed in '85. Or
even in '81 or '82 when bands like LARM
and PANDEMONIUM and YOUTH KORPS
fucking decided to go fast. If you listen
to the first D.R.I. record that
is so fuckin noisy and fast. I personally
when I saw a flyer for SPAZZ
that said "West Coast Power Violence" I thought
that was kinda lame because
we were never included in the actual song by
MAN IS THE BASTARD when they
listed off like CAPITALIST CASUALTIES,
CROSSED OUT, and MAN IS THE BASTARD and called them west
coast power violence because they were the originals.
We are really like second or third generation.
We are just a hardcore band
on the west coast but because Chris is in the
band and we go fast and all
that we got lumped in with that. Which
is all good because those are all
really good bands to be lumped in with but we
ourselves don't have say
CM: So you don't see any rules. Like if
you do it this way you are power
violence and you do it that way you are thrash
and you do it another way
and you are grindcore?
Max: Yeah. But unfortunately "power violence"
like most words meant to
classify, there is some truth in it. If
you do say to somebody, "They are
third rate power violence" or, "They are really
good power violence" that
does give people a reference point. They
know it is really fast and really
heavy but it mostly comes from the hardcore side.
If you say "grindcore"
then they are thinking like NAPALM DEATH
or FEAR OF GOD and it comes from
the metal side. But if you say "power violence"
then they know it is going
to be one way. Like maybe it is going to
be like INFEST and really fast or
maybe it is going to be really slow, like MAN
IS THE BASTARD slow, but it
is still going to be really fucking heavy and
with screamed vocals instead
of low vocals. Y'know any of those
things is a reference point. The term
is fine but I hope that everyone sees these bands
as like hardcore bands
because when you look at it nothing profound
is being done. It is just
another wave of hardcore.
CM: All three of you think your early stuff sucks,
CM: So when do you personally think that you
started getting it together?
Max: In my opinion and I also think in the others
opinions there seems to
be about three levels that we have gone through.
The first level is
everything up to "Dwarf Jester Rising." So that
is the 7" and we did two
sessions after the 7"...
CM: Both of those were still in '93 right?
Max: Yeah. Everything in '93. A lot
of that stuff went to "Dwarf Jester
Rising" and I think that we were really, really
bad. We weren't too
original on the songwriting and the song structures
and the musicianship
was really bad. I think everything was
still coming in. I mean there are
some good qualities and there are some songs
that I like and that I even
like to still do, but as a whole I think it was
laughable. The second
stage would be from "Dwarf Jester" up to "La
Revancha" which would be the
split with ROMANTIC GORILLA. We
started to get out own sound and our own
direction but even then the recording were way
clean. I mean I really like
a lot of the songs, especially on the split with
C.F.D.L and the one with
ROMANTIC GORILLA but the recordings kinda
kill it and we carry it out too
long. We carry on the parts too long.
But then like everything from "La
Revancha" on, like the TOAST split is
a point where we really stopped
trying to write a ceratin type of song.
We just started writing short,
fast, and right to the point type songs with
really crazy timing. And if
there isn't any crazy timing then it has got
to be a really heavy part.
Like a really metally part. In fact, if
you listen to out older stuff and
compare it to our newer stuff there is a lot
more metal influence. See I
wrote over a third, not up to a half, but over
a third of the riffs on that
record and at the time I was totally into writing
metal riffs. 100% pure,
fucking metal mosh and if it wasn't it was just
going fast with moshy
riffs. I think that "Dwarf Jester..." should
have been like a 7" and then
"La Revancha" our first record. We just
made a record too quick. Even at
the time, although we were stocked to get a record
out when reality bonked
us on the head we thought maybe we weren't too
happy with it.
CM: I interviewed Dan very shortly after the
first 7" came out, his second
SPAZZ interview ever, and he hated the 7" already.
Max: Yeah. We hated that thing right off
the bat. If people haven't heard
it they can listen to it on "Sweatin' to the
Oldies" and here it. That was
the most thrown together thing I have ever done.
Me and Dan practiced
twice and wrote all the songs. Dan was
just getting out of SHEEP SQUEEZE
and I was ending PLUTOCRACY I wanted to
get out of the super tech grindcore
so we tried to just do like super fast, '82 Boston
hardcore. We didn't
even come close to it, of course (laughs) but
it was just so thrown
together. I guess it did come out better
than we thought it would because
with only two practices and only one with Chris
and the recording the next
day for four hours it really is, if you step
back from it, a piece of shit.
And that is the record that people are looking
CM: So what do you think when you see people
offering big bucks for like
the first pressing of that one?
Max: I don't know. This is the first time
I've ever have people searching
for old things I've done. I don't know.It's
weird. I mean I'm a record
collector so it is weird to be on the other side
for a change. But I think
it is too quick. I mean we are still around!
These records we are talking
about are only three years old and there are
like 2000 of them floating
around out there. But I have a friend in
Germany who has a really cool
attitude, I don't agree with it, but I totally
respect his opinion of it
and that is: "If you put out a record and you
don't like it, tough shit.
You put it out and you better make sure that
if people still want it that
they can get it. Because if you don't make
it so people can get it then if
I get a hold it I'm going to bootleg it so that
people can actually get
it." He doesn't really do bootlegs himself but
he totally supports people
who do. Especially in Europe. Like
here it is easy to get things through
mailorder but like when Chris was giving all
his Slap-A-Ham records to
Vacuum and Revolver to distribute he wasn't doing
any trades and that is
how European distros work, they trade, they don't
buy. So here people can
find it but in Europe people can't find it even
when it is still in print.
That is why we did the "Sweatin' to the Oldies"
CD. So that people can get
the old stuff.
CM: The third session you did in '93, wasn't
that originally going to be
the first LP but Selfless was slow in getting
it out so that gave you a
chance to go in and redo things?
Max: No. See we recorded that like when
we only had a couple of offers.
Not like now where we have so many offers.
Then we always recorded more
than we needed. So we made that tape and
we thought it sounded kinda good,
although now I think it sounds like it was recorded
on cardboard! (laughs)
So we sent that tape down to Todd at Selfless,
now Clearview, and he wanted
to release it and we were like "No. Let
us go in and redo it." We did a
lot of the same songs but there were also a lot
of songs in that November
session that we didn't like. What we call
now, filler songs. (Editors
note: I love the tape from the November session
of '93 as well as the April
session in '93. I wish they would release
all of it someday. I think it
sounds a little like Dan's pre SPAZZ band
called HAPPY- Jeb)
CM: Are there other things that you've done that
you hate. Not with SPAZZ
but are there PLUTOCRACY things you hate.
Or the stuff you did with THE
Max: Every MEATSHITS record is something to be
cringed over! (laughs) We
were just talking about that guy (Editors note:
He means Robert, the main
force behind THE M.S. - Jeb) the other
day... OK, OK, Jeb I'm going to
tell you the whole MEATSHITS story and get it
out there so that people will
know what happened with all that shit.
See PLUTOCRACY was jamming and we
were doing the total European grindcore sound,
like E.N.T. kinda thing, and
we played a show with THE MEATSHITS and they
were playing noisecore just
like we heard that like ANAL CUT was doing.
And THE MEATSHITS and ANAL
CUNT and SEVEN MINUTES OF NAUSEA were it.
They were the only ones doing
that kind of thing then. And basically
he lost the whole band except for
the guitarist. So he starts talking to
me and he sends me down a couple of
tapes and I'm looking at the covers and it is
mainly just disgusting stuff.
It is definitely sex stuff but then it was mainly
like V.D. or gore stuff.
There was no, at that time, misogynist stuff
or homophobic stuff or racist
or sexist or anything like that. Because
people who know me know that I am
a stickler for that kind of stuff. I don't
mean like punk rock politics
here, this is my own personal beliefs.
I don't have anything to do with
that. Even just looking at the nudity on
his stuff was, I looked at it as
kinda weird... but... well.... (he sighs)....
I did it. So then the other
guys in PLUTOCRACY got in. At first it
was just his need for a drummer but
then Kindred and Thomas joined in to for like
bass and guitar and that was
when THE MEATSHITS started writing really good
stuff. All that stuff was
written in the studio and we weren't going to
be stationary members of the
band or anything. But then he just kept
recycling that stuff. I mean you
listen to some of that stuff that came later
and it is just PLUTOCRACY
stuff. He just recycled the songs and nobody
even noticed. And using
those songs is when he started getting like record
offers. But he did one
thing, and I don't remember but it was something
like "Hit the whore" o
"Hit the bitch" and I was like to him "Dude,
wait a minute. You need to
know that there are people in this band who are
helping you out who don't
want anything to do with that kind of thing."
But he started getting cocky.
He was a totally cocky motherfucker. So
we left the band over stuff like
that and then he totally ripped us off.
He never sent us any of the things
that we were on. Not that we would ever
want it but, y'know we were on it
and others were going to recognize the people
on it. But that is what
made him popular. Controversy. Controversy
works in the U.S. He started
writing horribly violent sexist stuff and then
he turned it into totally
homophobic stuff. He even turned it into
fuckin' racist stuff, and that
was when like picture discs and contracts for
like four European records
started coming in. And I was like "Oh,
my God! What have I done?"
(laughs) I was only in that band for like a year
and it wasn't at the
beginning and it DEFINITELY wasn't in the middle
with all that stuff. I
basically fucking detest that guy. And
the other guys in PLUTOCRACY, like
Kindred, has talked about going up to Modesto
and just like beat the living
shit out of him. But then like I heard
he has terminal cancer and he had a
year to live and that was a year ago... so...
he won't be missed. I mean
I wouldn't wish that on anybody, not even my
enemies, but I think that
maybe it is his life catching up with him.
He lived a life of hating
everybody else so now life makes you hate it,
y'know. So he'll be dead
soon and I'm not glad he has it, but it is like
a cycle that is coming
around for him.
CM: So are you still doing E.T.O.?
Max: No. That has been gone since like
'96. It just kind of faded.
Everyone just decided to do something new.
At the time I was kind of sad
because there are a million people who deserve
to be doing things and when
their band breaks up they don't do anything again.
I mean it is just luck
for me. It was luck that I got together
with Dan after PLUTOCRACY and it
is just luck that CAPITALIST CASUALTIES needed
a drummer. There are so
many people who deserve it more than me and are
better than me but their
drums are just sitting at their parents house
CM: Is it hard to juggle all your responsibilities?
CAPITALIST, your label, going to school...
Max: Well when I was at the J.C. I was taking
it pretty easy and had a
really good G.P.A. and that is what basically
got me into the university in
the first place. I wasn't taking very many
units and so that left me a lot
of time like to do mailorder for 625 and get
that going. And like E.T.O.
and SPAZZ were going at the same time then but
then E.T.O. ended and it was
like a year or two before CAPITALIST asked me
to drum for them. The only
problem really with that is the distance.
Like to start with I had to
drive an hour and a half from my parents house
to up there and then drum on
another guy's drum set and then drive back.
So that was like three hours
of driving and that is what I did for a year.
But now I live in San
Francisco which is like the mid-point between
where SPAZZ practices and
CAPITALIST. But it still like an hour and
a half trip for me up there
because now I have to take public transit.
I take BART up to a town near
there and then Jeff has to come and get me there
and take me the rest of
the way to practice and then take me back.
So I guess right now I can get
about one practice a week with each band, although
(laughs) SPAZZ hasn't
done ANYTHING since we got back from tour.
So with SPAZZ not really
jamming it hasn't been too bad right now, I guess.
but I'll tell you one
thing, school has been fuckin' kicking my ass
big time. It is mid-terms
and like all my time has gone to studying and
reading. I haven't done mail
for like 3 or 4 weeks. This is like the
first time ever in 625 or SPAZZ
that I have ever taken so long, but I swear to
God I can't cause all my
time is gone. My last mid-term was yesterday
and it was some of the
craziest shit ever. I guess it is getting
stressed with everything. I
mean, like I live with my girlfriend and I want
to spend some time with her
y'know? The person who I care more about
than anyone and like we never get
to do anything so you can see stress coming from
CM: So what do you major in?
Max: I'm a History major with a minor in Peace
and Conflicts. Anytime you
hear History Major that means a lot of reading.
Like this semester alone I
have like over 10,000 pages to read for the four
classes. That is one
reason that I am having Vacuum do my mailorder.
I just can't do individual
mailorder anymore. I can run the label
from the production end of it but I
can't be the source for mailorder. Revolver
has been really nice to me and
they are taking a lot of my stuff for like the
stores and the smaller
distro places and then like Vacuum is doing the
mailorder and that works
out pretty good. Tell people that if they
order from me it is going to
take a lot longer than if they order from Vacuum.
(ed note: Vacuum's
catalog can be seen at http://www.interlog.com/~tedwong/vacuum.html
write Timojhen who runs Vacuum at email@example.com
CM: Well we ought to wrap this up, but before
we do let me ask you what you
have coming out on 625 that you would like to
Max: Well I just came out with the GODSTOMPER
7"which unfortunately came
out while we were on tour. It was a three
label deal and you know if you
spilt a 500 press between three labels that mine
are going to go. So I
re-pressed it and I have it in my ads and stuff
but I haven't really pushed
it worth a shit. So since I just got it
re-pressed now I can sit down and
really give it the time and get it out to the
distributors and the overseas
distros and stuff. GODSTOMPER will
also have a 7" in Slap-A-Ham and they
earned their way onto Slap-A-Ham, they really
deserve it because they are
really good. Crazy, insane, jazzy, fast-assed
blast parts... It is really
good. In the making is the UTTER BASTARDS
/ DEADBODIESEVERYWHERE spilt.
The bands are putting that out and I am helping.
Really fucking good.
Especially the DEADBODIESEVERYWHERE which
is probably the best stuff
they've ever done. The records have been
done for a really long time and I
am just waiting for the bands to send me the
cover art. I can't really get
on their asses about getting me the cover art
because, like I said, it
isn't really my thing, the bands are doing it,
I'm just helping. So the
money is just going to be there when they need
it. I'm doing an ENTROPY 7".
They are from Boston. They sound like really
metally grindcore. Like
hardcore kids doing heavy grindcore. Like
if INTEGRITY or RINGWORM did the
grindcore thing. I'm dong a MALICIOUS
HATE 7" again that is on the metal
tip. Like grindcore. The drummer
is like the fastest I've heard. I'm
doing an UNANSWERED 12", they're from
Jersey. I have all these offers
open and when they get their stuff into me and
depending on how much
resources I have it'll get done. I just
re-pressed the "El Guapo" comp and
hopefully that will finance a whole bunch of
7"ers/ I would like to do 4 or
5 7"ers at a time.
CM: Thanks for the interview, Max!
Max: No, thank you. Sorry I went on and
on with some of the answers.
You'll have to cut a lot of it out. (laughs)
Thanks to Jeb Branin from The Crass Menagerie
for the interview. Get on The Crass Menagerie mailing list by clicking