FAULT Online Exclusive Photoshoot and Interview with MAX

Words and Photography: Miles Holder

Grooming: Shamirah Sairally

New York City born pop-soul singer MAX first hit our radar when we listened to the now famed hit single ‘Lights Down Low’. Currently sitting with over 30 million views on Youtube, it would seem that the love song written for his wife Emily, has now become a love song shared by many other couples around the world.

Most recently Max joined FAULT’s previous stars Fallout Boy on tour so we caught up with Max on the European leg to find out just what it’s like to pen a love song shared by so many. 

 

So you’re about to head off on tour with Fallout boy, excited?

Very excited, they’re good friends of mine, and it’s such an inspiration to see what hard work can do and the longevity that can come from it.

Do you like being on tour or do you prefer getting your thoughts out in the studio?

I think there are aspects of both, I love touring, but I also need to be careful of what I wish for because the last few years it’s been like ten months of travelling each year! This year we’ve come to Europe three times, and before that, I’d even never been before, so I’m fortunate to be able to travel so many places. Travelling also influences the writing because once you visit these different countries, you start to realise what connects in various languages and what energy is universal.

 

Is there anywhere you’ve been that pleasantly surprised you?

Paris, everyone says they can be the worst shows, but that was one of my favourite shows of the last tour and had such high energy. It’s said that the French have a lot of sass, but at the shows, they lose themselves, and that was really special.

What’s your best tour story?

Every time I stay in a hotel room I always leave the “do not disturb sign” on the door because I’m super messy and don’t want the staff to have to deal with it. We were playing a show in the Philipines, and it’s the only time I’ve had round the clock security.
So I’m in my room talking to my wife on the phone, and I look up at my bathroom mirror and see a hand-drawn message written in Sharpie on the mirror, like murder style! I’m freaking out! It said, “Hey max, if you want to see how we really party here, come up to the fourth-floor lobby”. It wasn’t a creepy message, but all I can think about is “someone has been into my room without me being here, climbed onto the sink to leave this message”. I call the front desk, and nobody comes, and I’m just in this foreign country freaking out – I move all my bags to barricade the door and don’t get any sleep that night.

As it turns out it was a fan who worked at the hotel and looked up my room number, asked the manager if this was a neat idea and the manager apparently said: “yeah, go for it”.

So you missed out on the best night of your life on the fourth-floor lobby!?

I know right, it could have been wild! I should have gone to the fourth floor, every time I tell that story people always want to know what was up there!

When ‘Lights Down Low’ was shooting up the charts, was there a “this is it” moment?

There’s been a couple of moments which was like “wow this is happening”. I think an amazing one for me was playing James Corden with a harp player, the very same way I proposed to Emily with. She was in the audience, and I saw a glimpse of her, and it was my first late night show in the states, so that was a cool moment. There was another moment when I remember being in Florida with my friend Nash and I had this amazing US military soldier hit me up on Instagram and say “hey, I’m getting married the day of your show and your song is my wedding song. I’m shipping out to Afghanistan the day after, and I was wondering if there’s anything special you could do on the day”. It was awesome, they’d just gotten married, but they came to our show, and we brought them both out on stage, and that was the first couple to reach out but such a fantastic couple. It’s great to have someone out there, being who they are and loving their life reach out because that’s what the song is all about.

Do you ever feel pressure to now top it or fear that you won’t?

Every day, but I try not to give in to that pressure. Sometimes you try to recreate something, but you can’t recreate special moments in your life, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t try to make those moments; you just need to keep taking risks and telling authentic stories. It’s empowering to know that one song that will always mean so much to Emily and me also now means so much to so many different people.

 

Is it strange to share what was such a personal song between you both with so many others?

Before we put the song out and showed off our wedding video, we had this discussion and decided, “if we’re going to share this news, then we have to share it all”. I think in this day and age with social media you’re either private, or you’re open, and you let people be a part of your experience.

What don’t journalists ever ask you?

I was saying the other day that journalists rarely ask about your bad shows. It feels horrible; it feels like you’re trapped outside of your house naked, with thousands of people watching you. This gig, in particular, was a private show, and we don’t always treat them as a regular performance. It wasn’t well communicated that it was going to be in front of 5000 people though. So we didn’t have our sound person, (our mistake), we were booked as an acoustic act in front of 5000 people, and it’s in Germany, so I can’t cover for myself in the same way. It was horrible, and no one booed or anything, but it was awful.

What is your FAULT?

I’m not a very functioning human; I can’t do my laundry or other life basic skills. I’m so thankful to have my wife to balance out my life; she’s definitely the boss. We’re all flawed but that’s what helps other parts of you excel but for me, I can’t function, if you just left me in the wilderness, I’d be fucked!

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