Maxdmyz is a London based metal quintet who has earned a potent reputation over the year as a live proposition and through their striking sound and releases. We were took the chance to find out more about the band with thanks to its members, exploring its origins, heart, and creative pulse…
Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?
Twister: So I’m Twister – I sing, write the lyrics, melodies and make the odd contribution to the tunes themselves. You’ve got Roger on guitar, A’Zedd on bass, and Vortex on keys and programming with Jay on drums and programming.
The band has taken different forms over the years – I’m the only founding member, although Jay and I have been working in the band for quite a while now. A’Zedd and Vortex joined a couple of years ago, and have each brought their own flavours to the band – A’Zedd in jazz and blues, and Vortex in goth, industrial and electronica. Roger was the brains behind German death-metallers, Apophis, and Jay has an incredible number of influences from Cardiacs to Nile and Squarepusher.
Have you been involved in other bands before? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?
Jay: Yeah, we’ve all been band whores ever since any of us can remember. I don’t think we consciously decided on one musical direction or another – what does mark us out though is an openness just to see where things take us. It’s a unique combination of influences and personalities and it’s that chemistry that gives us our sound, and everyone is welcome, in fact encouraged, to contribute as fully as possible to the best of their ability.
What inspired the band name?
Vortex: Twis likes to tell a story where it was a dyslexic founding member who came up with it – I’m still not sure whether I believe him but the name at least is distinctive and, if not memorable, you remember that you can’t remember it – er, if you see what I mean!
Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
A’Zedd: Wow, I’d like to say there is and that we have a sense of a specific sound and vibe that we want to create. But it would be a massive lie. It’s much less conscious than that and all the better for it. Emotional connection – that’s the beginning and the end of it, and our music is the vehicle to do it.
Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?
Roger: What do you mean – “was” fresh-faced – I think the band has developed over time, but whether progression or regression, who knows. As for evolution, well, every time we play or rehearse, we get closer and stronger – the material improves, as do our live performances. We are all incredibly driven, and always will be – it’s just a compulsion to connect.
So since your early days, how would you say your sound has actually evolved?
Twister: We’ve become heavier and more melodic – we started out really almost as loopy drum ‘n’ bass laced with samples, goth vocals, and heavy guitars. And it’s definitely an organic thing, although this openness to see where things take us naturally has definitely led to innovation and experiment?
Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations, you touched on it with Jay but are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?
A’Zedd: It’s weird, you know, but almost everything you encounter and process, musically or otherwise, has an impact – either as repellent or attractant. There are certain kinds of music and artists I don’t want to emulate – and that’s as much if not more of an influence on our music, vibe and outlook as anything else. But my native discretion forbids me from naming names.
Is there a regular process to the band’s songwriting?
Jay: Each of us is a songwriter in their own right – so what generally happens is that one of us presents an idea, even at a relatively early stage of development, and we jam and refine it. We all have our areas of expertise, but we are all very open to contributions and suggestions from band mates. The songs refine and develop through practice and live performance.
Roger: If one of us doesn’t feel comfortable with something, we generally dump it as we’ve all got to be happy with the final product if we’re going to deliver it with conviction; having said that, we are all happy to compromise. This is one of the most productive and democratic bands I have ever worked in – it’s just mutual respect and everyone working towards the same goal. Publishing is always divided five ways, regardless.
Vortex: Yeah, part of the pleasure of being in this band is that everyone works to get the best possible level of creativity out of everyone else – we all see ourselves as enablers of the others’ creativity and are glad to be so. It feels so good to be working in a collaborative environment where everyone is respected and feels represented.
Where, more often than not, do you draw inspirations for the lyrical side of your songs?
Twister: I guess this is my shout – since I write the damn things. It’s from the extremes of emotional experience, more often than not – or sometimes from some ironic or sardonic take on an issue that grabs me – from anorexia to suicide bombers. They’re noises made to music in the end and they either work or don’t work.
Can you give us some background to your latest release?
Jay: It feels a little weird talking about it, as it feels a long time ago now and we will be releasing a new album later this year or early the next – The Hate Plane was released in August 2014, although it still seems to be exciting interest and radio play etc. as if it had been released just a month or two ago; that may be a characteristic of the internet age, people come across this stuff online every day and for them it’s new and fresh. Grieve, the single off the album, is still getting a lot of radio play, especially in the States, as are All and Side with Satan.
Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind the album.
Vortex: Apocalypse, the counter culture under pressure, individual desperation in the face of personal powerlessness and alienation, anger, boredom, sex, mental illness, political injustice – you know; the usual stuff. The premise is, I guess, is that existentially you have to make a statement even if the only one listening is yourself.
Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?
A’Zedd: The answer is yes. I think you have to be as prepared and ‘finalised’ as possible and that’s because things will always change and that’s good. We can’t afford financially or creatively to mess around composing on recording time. That’s why, when I estimate how long it’s going to take to record anything, I estimate, double the figure, then double it again.
Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?
Roger: As a relatively new member, I can say that that’s what drew me to the band. I’d seen them in one guise or other playing live for a few years on the London circuit. It was one show in particular which I thought was electric – at the Dome in North London. Twister is a fantastic singer, and A’Zedd is such a fluent, effortless bassist. Vortex has this extraordinary presence. And Jay is one of the most phenomenal drummers I have ever seen, let alone played with. Playing with these guys is an incredible adrenaline rush and communicates that excitement to the audience, and that, in the end, is what it’s all about.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?
Jay: London is the last place in the universe you’d want to start or be in a band. There are probably thousands of different acts all trying to climb out of the sewer that is the London music scene. Some of the great metal bands have come from the UK, but culturally there seems to be less appetite for it than you’d think. There are opportunities to make a mark for new bands of course, but there is always that element of luck – being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people and so on. Rick Wakeman once said that any band looking for a deal doesn’t deserve one – easy for him to say, but he’s only half right. With the internet now though, it’s sometimes easier to make a mark somewhere else in the world rather than closer to home.
So how has the internet and social media impacted on you guys to date?
Vortex: It’s had a massive positive impact on getting our music out there. There is a fantastic democratizing influence that the internet has had – it kind of flattens out celebrity – everyone has a website – you can visit Slayer’s or Maxdmyz’s and the experience is much the same – you listen and you either like it or you don’t. True, it’s less easy to get rich off music if you’re an artist – well, it was never that easy, but so what! In what moral universe does Phil Collins earn millions of dollars off a song it took him three minutes to write, where the average ambulance driver or nurse earns naff all by comparison. And you don’t need any specialist skills apart from the ability to click on links and send emails, seriously.
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
A’Zedd: Well, thank you for your interest. Yep, we’ve just heard we’ll be playing Club Antichrist on 11th November. See you there!
The RingMaster Review 17/05/2016
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