Max Stern of Signals Midwest / Meridian will be in the country next week to start a summer tour alongside Wil Wagner and Pinch Hitter. It all begins on Thursday 20th at Beatdisc in Parramatta and will run through until March 9th. This week in The Hotseat we caught up with Max to answer our questions. Expand this post to take a read of his answers and to re-cap all the tour dates and venues. Stay tuned later in the week for something special from Max ahead of the tour.
Name : Max Stern
Band : Signals Midwest / Meridian
Job In Band : vocals / guitar / writin’ songs
Website Address : signalsmidwest.bandcamp.com // meridianohio.bandcamp.com
Hometown : Cleveland, OH
Hometown is best known for : Terrible sports teams, Drew Carey, that one episode of 30 Rock, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Best venue in your hometown : The Grog Shop, Now That’s Class
Favourite show you’ve seen in your hometown : Against Me at The Agora, Sept. 28, 2005 (my 16th birthday)
Favourite show you’ve played in your hometown : Signals Midwest “Light On The Lake” record release show (11/22/13), opening support for The Lawrence Arms (1/15/12) or any show with Bomb the Music Industry 2008-2012.
How did the band first come to exist? Signals: Loren (bass) and I played together in a ska band in high school. We started listening to bands like Dillinger Four and the Lawrence Arms when we went to college. We turned 18 and wanted to start a band of our own. A few months later, Loren met a girl at school who said her boyfriend played drums. We went to meet him one day after class and that was Steve. We had our first practice later that week and that was that.
How long has the band been going? First practice was Sept. 2008, so over 5 years now.
Any particular story behind the name? A long time ago, a good friend moved from Cleveland to Portland, OR. I had written a song for no particular project that used the line “I guess you’ve pointed your signals west” and the phrase kinda stuck. Steve said it should be “midwest” because that’s where we’re from.
What’s your most recent release? Tell us a little about it… “Light On The Lake”, Oct. 2013 – Tiny Engines Records. It’s a collection of songs that we wrote over the past two years which saw us tour around the US a few times and play over 150 shows. It’s a bit slower – we had fun experimenting with different tempos and tunings and letting the songs breathe a little bit. We recorded it in a week in a warehouse in Cleveland and pulled 9 straight 16-hour days. I’m more proud of it than I am of most things, but we’re already working on the next one!
Got a personal stand out achievement of your band to date? Our last US tour was 32 days and covered 10,000 miles. We played 29 shows. It was a blast. Playing the Fest the last two years has been pretty unreal – our sets down there are always crazy amounts of fun. Mostly I’m just stoked that we’ve been a band for over 5 years and have a few hundred shows under our belts. It’s been an amazing way to see the country (now world?) and meet people.
OFF THE STAGE
What was your first introduction to music that made you think seriously about playing it? Probably watching Blink-182 videos on MTV after I would come home from middle school. “Adam’s Song” featured them playing their instruments very prominently and was one of the first things I tried to learn on guitar. I also got really obsessed with the guitar riff to Weezer’s “Island In The Sun” at age 11 or 12.
Any particular band / album or song that you personally credit as a major influence? It’s cliche as hell but I’ve gotta go with The Clash “London Calling”.
Your first band name, and what style did you play? The first band I ever played shows with was The Skatastrophes. We were a ska band, if you couldn’t guess. We were active right up until Signals started, so from about age 13-18.
Most prized music related item you own? Hah. Don’t have too many. I bought a really nice acoustic guitar from Jesse Michaels (Operation Ivy)’s cousin. I also have a seafoam green ’72 Deluxe Telecaster that I treat like it’s my firstborn child.
When you’re not doing band related stuff, what are you usually found doing? Graphic design. You can see some work at dribbble.com/maxwellstern. I don’t do much else. My life pretty much revolves around music and design.
The thing you most look forward to just before a tour is… the half-hour per night of pure adrenaline where I forget about everything else.
The thing you least look forward to before a tour is… I love everything about it. I love the shitty long drives and gas station food. I love the bad sleep spots. It just makes sense to me.
ON THE STAGE
When on offer, what’s your one must have item on the rider? I’ve never had a rider in my entire life. If I had one? Probably vitamin C tablets or avocados.
Favourite place you’ve toured… and why? I have a feeling it’s probably going to be Australia when that happens in February, but for now my favorite city is Philadelphia. We have so many friends there and the music and design scenes are incredible. Also, Montreal ruled when we went there over the summer.
Most memorable show you’ve played? and why? One that always sticks out to me was when we played the Plea for Peace Center in Stockton, CA. There were maybe 8 people there. But it was our first California show and the furthest from home we’d ever been up to that point and I remember thinking to myself as we started, “Okay, I’ve driven across the entire country to play music…what’s next?” I was 21 years old. It was perfect.
Got a favourite song to play live? Right now it’s “St. Vincent Charity’ from “Light On The Lake”.
Any embarrassing on stage moments come to mind? I usually get too excited when we play. I’ve fallen over a couple times dancing around like an idiot.
Any pre-show rituals? Stress out, look at my phone and scroll absentmindedly, drink too much water, don’t drink enough water, think of funny things to say during the set and then forget them all and say unfunny things.
What do you find is the hardest aspect of touring in a band today? The fact that unless you dedicate your entire life to touring, being a musician really isn’t a financially viable life choice. We all have other jobs. If we could support ourselves playing music it’d be a dream come true, but I’m not crossing my fingers.
Last song you listened to? Jeff Rosenstock – “Bonus Oceans”.
Last album you acquired? I just got my copy of French Exit’s “Guts and Black Stuff” in the mail today. I did the layout for that record. It fucking rules. Sounds like D4 meets Weezer.
Which band or album is currently on high rotation? The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me”. Thank you Chris Cowburn.
Tell us an up and coming band or artist you think we should go and listen to right now? I have no idea why Glossary isn’t the biggest band in the world. They’re not really “up and coming”, they’re just a working-class rock and roll band from Tennessee who happen to be incredible. Joey Kneiser can write the shit out of a song.
What’s on the cards for the next few months for the band? We just got back from an East Coast tour, so Steve is finishing up school while I tour Australia solo. After that, we’ve got a few midwestern shows in Chicago, Michigan and Cleveland planned. Hopefully some touring in May once Steve graduates and then we’re doing a month in Europe/UK in September!
You can pick any one album for your band to cover in full, what would it be and why? Everclear’s “So Much For the Afterglow” because it’s an incredible record and I want to play all those weird chorus-y guitar parts!
You can pick any one band / artist to cover one of your albums in full, what would it be, and why? This is a weird question. I just want someone to sample us in a hip-hop song that I can hear on the radio while I drive around in my Mercedes that I bought with the royalties. I’m down to sell my soul. I’m ready.
One band you wish you were able to see live but never had the chance? THE CLASH is the only acceptable answer.
One venue you have yet to play that you would love to? I want to play Red Rocks in Denver, CO one day.
The chance comes up to fill in for a member of a band for one tour, which band would it be, and why? Torche, because they write the best guitar parts in the world.
A headline tour overseas comes up, tell us two bands you’d take along to support your band. I’d take our friends Worship This! and a Limp Bizkit cover band. I don’t know. I’m tired.
Got any final words? I’m touring Australia by myself and freaking the fuck out about it! Come see me and Wil and the Pinch Hitter boys!
With guests MAX STERN and PINCH HITTER
20th – Beatdisc Records, Parramatta [AA]
21st – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle [18+]
22nd – Black Wire Records, Sydney [AA]
23rd – Phoenix Bar, Canberra [18+]
27th – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba [18+] * PH not appearing
28th – Crowbar, Brisbane [18+]
1st – Sun Distortion, Brisbane [AA]
2nd – Time Machine Records, Nambour [AA]
6th – The Gunners Arms, Launceston [18+]
7th – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart [18+]
8th – The Reverence Hotel, Footscray [18+]
MAX STERN and PINCH HITTER also playing
9th – The Old Bar, Melbourne [18+]