Timing is everything. Timing and luck. And good people. A lesson, or a question perhaps, in how music is shaped by those forces that are just beyond our grasp is what Max Winne can attest to with the music he performs as The Maykit. Winne has a new album, the yet-to-be-release Over Water, and he talked with Concerted Effort about a few considerations a self-promoting folk artist might have when creating and sharing their craft.
Some things about the business side of music can be confusing: I mean where do you start, anyways? What is easy to understand is the unexplainable urge to keep playing music, as Winne points out. And maybe it's as simple as knowing you have one base covered, and you're ready for the next batter up to hit that home run.
The Maykit will be performing this Friday August 3 at the Meadowlark with Serious Moonlight, the Belle Jar, and Anthony Ruptak. The show is 21 and up, and begins at 9:00 PM . See the Meadowlark's website for more details.
CE: You are a singer-songwriter, but you have recorded some songs solo and other songs with a full band. Whether you're recording or playing live, what makes you choose one over the other?
MW: In high school when I was in a band, I realized I have a hard time getting along with people for a long amount of time. I didn't want to recruit my friends and end up hating them. Now that I'm an adult, I can get along with people for a longer amount of time. For shows I wanted to start bringing in a band because I recorded my new album with a full band. It's silly and unfair to play live completely by myself all of the time. It's too different from [the record]. Compared to [what I was playing before], it's like night and day.
CE: What's the name of your new album?
MW: It's called Over Water. I haven't released it, but it's been done for a while. I'm just trying to figure out the best route to take. I have been sending it around to buddies at labels and stuff hoping that somebody will point me in the right direction at least. But we'll see. I'm just kind of letting it do whatever it has to do, letting it run its course . . . But I want to give it to people. To people that actually seem like they'd want to hear it.
CE: So are you waiting for a deal for promotion through a record company before you release this album?
MW: No, not really. I don't really know what I'm waiting for. It would be nice to have better distribution and [not set up my own tours]. . . It's hard to explain; I'm not worried about a label release. I'm completely fine with releasing it on my own, but right now I don't have money to. So I'm just passing it around, and seeing if anybody is interested in releasing it or promoting it. Or just if anybody is interested in it at all. I'll probably end up releasing it by myself.
CE: Do you see yourself going on tour at all?
MW: Touring is one of my main priorities; I'd like to see myself on tour as much as possible.
CE: You have two brothers that are your band right now.
MW: No, they aren't actually my brothers. Oh, but they are brothers, yes. I just like to say that we're all brothers, but we're not really. But they're brothers with eachother
CE: When you're doing things on your own, how do you fund a tour?
MW: I've done it before; I'd like to get it into the hands of someone who would like to assist me. It's hard doing my day job, the entire business side of the music, and playing shows like I have been every week since I played with David Dondero in Denver (this past June 19, at the Hi-Dive).
CE: What are the other records you have released to date?
MW: I have two. One is a split EP between me and my buddy Adam Fisher, and my friend Angela out in California. Adam was in a band called Fear Before the March of Flames, that was like kind of big. They are like metal or something. He (Fisher) started doing solo stuff and we decided it was stupid not to release a split EP. That one's called Hangs. Then my other record is full-length, it's super quiet and it's called Songs About Things That Lack Definition. I just wanted to make the title as long as possible.
CE: That's great. One of the things I noticed when you were performing with David Dondero was that you have a sense of humor.
MW: Yeah I try to.
CE: Do you think that comes through with your music, or makes sense with your music? Because folk singers aren't usually funny, or sometimes they are and it's really subtle. Do you try to put personality in your songs, or does it just happen naturally?
MW: Well I hope they have some personality. They're (the songs) all pretty heavy-hearted, lyrically. But live, I've learned that just playing by myself it's harder to, I don't know . . . they're super sad and I have to lighten the mood in-between them. Or else you're just going to bum people out
CE: How long have you been playing music?
MW: I started playing live in 9th grade. I wasn't playing music like this; it was heavier, more angsty.
CE: When was that?
MW: 2001. Yeah, it's scary to think about it. That's a long time.
CE: Wow, you're younger than me. I usually assume that musicians as far along the road as you are have to be older than me for some reason. But that obviously has nothing to do with anything; it's all luck or chance, and being in the right place. Right?
MW: I lucked out. I think when I started playing, the people that started booking me for some reason seemed to believe in me, which was nice. And they just have taken care of me since. Ben DeSoto and James Irvine. And Ben's girlfriend, Lisa, too. They have just been a big help.
CE: Where is your favorite place to play in town? And, is there any other places you like to play not in town?
MW: My favorite place to play is the Hi-Dive. All of my favorite bands that I've played with have played there. Not to say the other places I've played are bad by any means, but the Hi-Dive has always been great to me. Ben always puts me on something that I want to be on. James is great about that, too, but there's just less folk-acoustic stuff at Larimer Lounge and other places like that. When he puts me on shows, they're great shows but I feel like the Hi-Dive is kind of my home base. But I play Meadowlark all the time, too, or not all the time but more and more often as time goes on, and I've always had a blast. They have a really small room that fills up really fast.
Outside of Denver . . . When I was a kid I used to go to this place called Club 156 in Boulder and I played there once. I liked that place, it was on campus. If you get the right show, it can be a good time. I didn't really get the right one, but I still had fun. I played this place in Ogden, Utah called Mojo's that was great. I don't know. I prefer the Hi-Dive, and I prefer Denver. It's nice seeing all your friends, and seeing people in the music scene that have helped you.
CE: What would you say is a Denver artist that you like a lot?
MW: There's an old band called the Alan Baird Project; they were great, but they're not a band anymore. I love Churchill. I love In the Whale. I love the Photo Atlas. I mean there is too many to really name. By buddy Dwight Forsee, he's an amazing folk musician and he's starting to play more and more. It's great to see him play, it's incredible. Oh, and Lizzie Huffman, I don't know if you have heard her, but she's amazing. I highly recommend her.
CE: Do you have more Denver shows planned?
MW: Yeah, Denver shows - I can't NOT play them. I tried to take some time off and focus on real life, and see what that was like for a while. But I just wanted to play too much.
CE: Why do you want to play music?
MW: I have no idea. I've always liked writing and I've always envied people that can play the guitar really well. When I first was getting on stage and playing in front of people, I had the worst anxiety ever. I remember a show where I turned the microphone and faced the wall. But after a while I just had to do it. An itch. A habit. It was a strange thing.
The Maykit has some music for you to listen to on their Bandcamp page. You should check it out, and go down to the Meadowlark this Friday and listen to Max perform some new songs from Over Water.