The multi-talented pop-soul singer/model/actor and dancer MAX has started his Australian tour in Adelaide before taking on the east coast. Born and bred in New York, MAX began honing his powerful chops at the tender age of three and by the age of 14 landed his first agent and spent his teenage years writing for Disney shows as well as starring in the Nickelodeon series, How To Rock. Since then the prolific MAX has released three stellar albums and a handful of EPs.
MAX’s devoted fan base means he has an incredibly strong social media presence with over 2 million followers across his platforms. MAX’s current single Lights Down Low from his latest album Hell’s Kitchen Angel, has over 70 million streams, breaking him into the mainstream conscious. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Max ahead of the tour.
What is the latest for max?
Just got home from a writing session and getting ready for the Australian trip everyday just packing lightly.
First Australian tour here must be exciting?
Oh yeah, so exciting, we are over the moon, can’t wait and to use a cliché I can’t wait to meet everyone and hang with the wonderful Aussies, brilliant humans!
Do you have a big following here or are you feeling your way a bit and see how it goes?
Yeah, feeling our way by coming over for the first time and it is so exciting and of course I said yes. Now, it is really cool that things are starting to develop there and I have heard that the Australian audiences are incredible. I’ve heard they have an unforgettable energy, I’m trying not to have any expectations but I am over the moon to get to experience this in person and bring our show out there.
How would you describe the live show?
It definitely has a lot of energy and I will be bringing as much energy to the stage and leave the entire audience feeling that they gave their all on the night and got lost in the world that we try and create with the show. We try and strip down all of the layers that I feel like all humans have and get to the core of what we all feel. It is an exhibition of those two feelings that we’ll hone in on and give our all to.
Do you prefer playing the smaller clubs or bigger festivals?
They both have an energy that is so hard to choose between them, I love them both because I’m really excited that these shows are in really intimate environments. Those moments in an intimate environment there’s no way you can replicate them for a festival environment. I love the intimate environment and seeing everyone’s faces is something that is unforgettable. Playing festivals is good to feeling that mass of energy. I couldn’t choose between them and there is always elements you can’t find in the other.
Singer, actor, model and dancer – is there anything that you can’t do?
Oh man! I really need to change my Wikipedia! Oh I man I feel like such a jerk! Music is my everything and I love incorporating bits of the rest in to the world of the music. Whether that is acting for videos, wiggling around because I’m not the best dancer those are the elements I like to make as the theatrics of the show and make it a special experience. I definitely can’t do a lot of things, I can’t do my own laundry!
Is there anything musically you are looking to pursue?
That is such a wonderful question, I love experimenting. I was talking about it earlier, I have been so lucky with a lot of different things in the electronic and hip-hop space where it is so fun to get to experiment. I know my voice and my voice over a dub step crazy track is something that we don’t do often. I have a side project with a guy called Tim Armstrong from the band Rancid which is more punk rock and my favourite thing with experimenting is finding the heart of where that music came from. In that way doing something with him and finding where the punk rock world meets pop world is so exciting. I would love to try anything with anyone from Marilyn Manson to Stevie Wonder, it is amazing to find a collaboration of genres to create.
Looking back at your career to date, does it feel like a bit of a whirlwind given how quickly things have happened?
It has definitely been very bizarre and magnificent journey when I think about the way that I have got to where I am. There are have been a lot of dots that have connected to the next dot and that’s what I appreciate a lot to is how other musicians and artists have come up in their career. Some of them have done music their whole lives and for me it has felt way longer than it has but definitely influences why our style of show is unique from others in the theatrics of it all. It definitely is really interesting to look back two years ago to think I wasn’t married, my music wasn’t m out then, it is funny whole things stir up a whole new life.
How important was the whole Nickelodeon world in terms of setting up your career?
The biggest thing about it is that I had such a short time on it and it was wonderful that people discovered my stuff through that and stayed with us since then. It is great and a fantastic platform but more than anything that I have realised recently that I leant the most was not conforming to what people expect of you and to take those risks. The movie Rags is the first one I did in the Nickelodeon world and when I auditioned for it there was this hip-hop musical sent to me and I was told to go in and be this hip-hop guy. I always have my ukulele with me and they said don’t take your ukulele but go in and wear clothes you wouldn’t normally wear. That wasn’t me, it was for a part and a part I didn’t want to play.
Unbeknown to them I brought my ukulele to the audition and they accepted that and the people at Nickelodeon took who I was and made in to these characters and incorporated the ukulele in to the movie then things started moving to my style. That was something that was definitely scary because I could have very much not got that part and my whole life would be very different but it did teach me to take that risk and not afraid to be myself in that way. What’s the point if you’re not being yourself and hiding behind something you are not? It has be the biggest lesson early on by sticking with what you believe in.
Do you want to do more TV work?
Eventually, I think for me music is everything I want to do forever and I would love to experiment and dabble with. Look at guys like Justin Timberlake and Lenny Kravitz, you see Lenny in Hunger Games he is the rock star music guy who happens to jump in to something else. I would love to go back to it eventually and do some strange fun part but overall I see myself doing music forever and just jumping in and out for different experiments such as TV and movie things.
Do you feel incredibly proud looking back at what you have achieved?
Oh yeah, it is amazing especially when we put the album out at first we didn’t really get a lot of press or a lot of push which I’m glad because it instilled a real sense of purpose to really believe in the music and finding a way to get it heard. The single Lights Down Low has been the greatest lesson of all and wraps back in to the Nickelodeon thing I mentioned of sticking with it even if not everyone believes in it. When I wrote the single for my wife and proposed to her with the single, I was secretly married to her for a while as I wasn’t open about my marriage because so many people say you’re married and you won’t make it in music, you’re in your twenties and you do pop music which I knew was wrong for my life and not to be open about it.
I can’t lie about because I am a very transparent person so revealing the story behind the song and getting to go around the world now and sing it for people and say what it stands for love, no matter someone’s sexual preference or where they are from or who they are, we stand for that song everywhere we go. I have found that so rewarding compared to any other experience in my life. It is so much more important to do things that fulfill you rather than do things for money or the fame, those are such felting moments and feelings and the feeling of fulfillment of something that you create that you believe in and stands for something is the most incredibly rewarding thing.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Be sure to catch Max on the remaining dates