What makes new music worthy of anyone’s attention? Is it merely the fact that it’s contemporary and in a style and fashion that is popular and trendy? The pop music scene prizes glitzy superficiality over substance of any form to such an extent that the very art and craft of songwriting is in danger of withering away and going the way of the dinosaur.
Which is why every now and then, the discovery of a new singer-songwriter that adheres contrarily to the classic formats of 60s and 70s pop-rock is like a breath of fresh air, in a heavily polluted environment. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, in the background set out before, we give you Max Jury.
Jury released 2 EPs in 2014 – Something in the Air and All I Want: The Sonic Factory Sessions – and these seven incandescent songs represent some of the most promising rock ‘n’ roll (in the classic sense of that term) material of the last decade or so.
Songs like “Christian Eyes”, “All I Want”, “Black Metal” and “Something in the Air” uncannily channel the likes of John Lennon, Gram Parsons, Alex Chilton, Todd Rundgren et al through the razor-sharp perspective of a 21 year old American singer-songwriter.
We managed to get in touch with Max and he kindly responded to our queries.
How does a 21 year old get into someone like Gram Parsons who died 20 years before you were born?
I’m fascinated by the story and myth of Gram Parsons. I originally got into his solo work through Ryan Adams. And then I started listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers and his work with The Byrds.
When and why did you start playing? Which instruments do you play?
I started playing piano around the age of 6 or 7. That’s my most comfortable instrument. I picked up the guitar about 5 years ago to switch it up.
Who would you say are your biggest influences growing up? How did you discover them?
I was a big fan of Neil Young. My parents had a copy of Harvest. A listened to a lot of blues, too – artists like BB King, Taj Mahal, etc.
Which modern rockers do you consider your peers in terms of your musical approach?
I hear similarities in Ryan Adams, Tobias Jesso Jr., and Blake Mills I suppose.
“Christian Eyes” — was that based on personal experience or keen observation? What was the inspiration for “Black Metal”?
“Black Metal” is a true story, actually. My friend was dancing with this girl at a bar. She seemed very sweet and innocent. When we got back to our place we looked her up on Facebook and Instagram and noticed she was into some pretty dark stuff…
Your two EPs seem to ignore whatever is trendy right now — is that a conscious decision? Is it tougher to get people on board when you go against the grain?
No, it’s not a conscious decision. That’s just what pours out of me. But yes, it is tougher to get people on board when you’re not playing into trends.
What was the experience at SXSW like? Are you playing any other festivals this year?
SXSW was amazing. I was able to watch a lot of great artists perform and all of my sets went well. I’m playing a festival in Latvia this summer which I’m excited about because Robert Plant is headlining.
Are you recording new music for release this year? If so, can you tell us anything about that?
Yes, I’m constantly recording. I have a huge stockpile of songs. It’s just a matter of releasing them in the right way and having the financial backing and distribution resources to do so.
Any chance of heading to Asia to perform? Would you like to?
I’ve never been to Asia but I really really want to go. It seems amazing – it’s definitely next on the list.
What do you hope to have achieved with your music by the end of 2015?
I hope to continue to reach more people and put out a proper album!
Here’s our Spotify playlist of Max’s two EPs. Bloody essential listening!
Connect with Max!
… still there’s more …