By Kristi Kates
Most of todays up and coming bands - with good reason - dont like to be pigeonholed, nor do they like to be limited. Indianapolis band Max Allen Band, who will be performing in Traverse City the first week of July, are no exception.
This band has been influenced by way too many genres and artists to list, Max Allen explains. We like to call what we do rock fusion - theres some rock, rap, Latin, funk, blues, bluegrass, baroque, R&B, electronica - if it sounds good and it moves us, well play it.
See for yourself when the band plays the Loading Dock in TC this Friday, July 1.
Hailing from Indianapolis (born and raised, Allen says), Max Allens band formed in stages (no pun intended.)
I met my drummer, Shaan France, through another friend, Allen says. My current drummer at the time couldnt make the gig, so Shaan filled in for him. Later down the road, I needed another drummer to fill in, so I called Shaan again. A couple of months after that, the old guy called it quits, so I simply asked Shaan if he wanted the spot.
Five years later, and France is still quite solidly the Max Allen Bands man behind the drums.
I dont know if hes good at putting up with antics (in general), or if hes just become accustomed to putting up with mine, Allen laughs, but hes one of the best drummers I know.
Bass player Dace Robies road to the Max Allen Band was a slightly different one.
I will stand by what I have always said, Allen states, he was sent to me.
Allen explains how he actually met Robies father, first, when the elder Robie was a stagehand at one of Allens earlier gigs.
He told me he had a son who was a great bass player, Allen remembers, my thought was sort of like the bouncers response to the guy at the door of the club who runs the line, my girlfriend is in there - I thought, yeah, a lot of peoples sons are great bass players.
But a couple of months later, Allens bass player dropped out of the picture. And I was left to find a new low-end frequency friend, Allen jokes.
Allen tried out a couple of other musicians, but none of them stuck.
Then, the same guy who introduced me to Shaan made a few calls, and came up with Daces name, Allen says, I gave him a call, he started filling in, and we just went with it - hes been with us for about two and a half years now. So Daces old man was right - his son was, in fact, a great bass player.
Now that the trios firmly established - as is their own studio in Reelsville, Indiana (Big Walnut Records), Allen has recorded five albums, his latest with the Max Allen Band (France and Robie included) being their current set, Ending Sun.
Weve had great reviews on the album, Allen enthuses, Ive had a lot of people say that they can see how I matured as a musician and a writer - although I still act like a child, he laughs.
I feel every album has to be better than the last - you gotta step it up, even if it takes recording it twice, he continues.
The Max Allen Band - who actually like to sell their CDs in bundles (so you can get the history of the music were playing, Allen explains) - are back at Big Walnut, and are also working at Indianapolis Static Shack, working on their next album, Everyone Thinks Youre Weird, to be released this summer.
Its our finest work yet, Allen says, we have string arrangements, organ, synth, guitar synth, and marimba, and weve been working with a great producer/engineer, Gary Mielke - his knowledge of music and recording is vastly greater than any of us in the band.
That aforementioned guitar synth will reportedly be making an appearance at the Max Allen Bands Traverse City show, too (I know it sorta sounds cheesy, but its very cool, Allen says) - but most importantly will be the focus on the songs, and the people who work together to craft them. Allen thinks the fans will see - and hear - the improvements in their next album, too.
Ive worked my whole life to surround myself with the best people I can, Allen says, and I think it will show with this next album.
More info on the Max Allen Band can be found at www.maxallenband.com and www.maxallenmusic.com; the band will be performing at The Loading Dock in TC on July 1.