Interview with Hirax Max
(Taken from The Crass Menagerie #53)

CM: I wanted to start by asking you about the SPAZZ national tour, how you
felt it went and the highlights and lowlights of it.
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 "cult status".
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.  I dunno...
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
and bad.
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, right?
Max: Yeah.
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 for! (laughs)
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 collecting dust.
CM: Is it hard to juggle all your responsibilities?  Like SPAZZ,
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 that.
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 or
write Timojhen who runs Vacuum at - Jeb)
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 push.?
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 here