Post № 1000 & what a way to celebrate, on our birthday and with a true legend!
This week I caught up with Faithless legend and E Type Boys front man Maxi Jazz to see what up, what new and whats to come…
Maxi has received many plaudits for his highly poetic lyrical style and this is, again, plainly evident in his latest body of work.
A sense is conveyed of his great love for the human spirit, along with a playful sense of humour. The E-Type Boys live are a powerful rock band, a Wild Funk outfit, tight and direct. Maxi Jazz is back to his roots.
How did the E-Type Boys all come about? Well, I wrote a song on my guitar in Jamaica in 2015, my first one actually. Kind of odd circumstances, but I was waking up at 2:30 in the morning as I was ill and I’d just bought a Strat in Kingston two days earlier. I hit on this plan to stay up long enough so I could sleep the following night. I took my Strat in to the bedroom along with a pen and paper and decided to take this four-chord progression I had and make it in to a song… I wrote the whole song in an hour! (laughter)
Fair play, did it come naturally then? Well it felt like it, to be honest with you it just kind of fell out of me, I didn’t even know that many chords at the time (laughter). I wrote the words, then spent another two hours on it, because at that point I had no idea about singing and playing. But, having just written a song that I liked, I wanted to sing it to my mum in the morning. So I spent longer learning to sing it and play it, than it took to write it. That was the start of it all, I felt “Great, I have a song”. The next one was like, three years later (laughter). I wasn’t taking it seriously as you can tell. Then the following year I wrote three, then another three and I was like “Hang on, I got five 0r six songs this year, let’s see if I can do more“. Before I knew it I was getting around 13, 14 and now I’m beginning to think “Well hold on a minute, I have a few songs here that I LIKE” and I’m REALLY picky when it comes to music. So, I’ve written something I like and this is really unusual. So I ring up my keyboard player, a good old mate of mine, 30 years I’ve known him, I send him my songs as I.m doing demo’s in my studio in Jamaica. He said “These songs are great Max”, “REALLY I said” (laughter), he was like “YEAH!! REALLY!!”. So, then we were like, come on then, let’s make a band, let’s do this, let’s do that and here we are! Otherwise I’d have been making Hip-hop albums, in fact I was halfway through making one that was going to be my next thing after Faithless. Logically I would have been doing a Hip-hop thing, then I made this big left turn.
One of the things I love about your new direction is the different musical elements I can hear. Take your new single for example, ‘Change Our Destiny’ first thing I hear is Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ THANK YOU!! You’ll do! You can come again (laughter)! It’s very 70’s New York… yeah, I totally get it. Honestly, I can’t tell you where any of that comes from. Did you grow up in a musical environment? Ohhh man, listen, the 60’s and 70’s was like the golden era, mainly for music but for radio you know? ‘Cause there weas the Showaddywadd’s and the Rubette’s. But you didn’t have to listen to the radio for long before you heard something amazing and plus there was that psychedelic thing going on in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Music wasn’t just about verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, out – the bridge would take you somewhere you know? There would be that trippy, psychedelic stuff going on and ya know as a young teenager, it was like ‘this is amazing’ trying to take it all in. Quite often on the radio you’d hear something you’d never heard before so for me it’s almost a natural thing. If I’ve got a riff that I really like, I’ll find another bit that goes really well, that’s your chorus, but the bridge has to go off somewhere. (Jason – Yeah, yeah – sure) If possible, if it’s a rock riff, the bridge might be a bit jazzy or a reggae thing. The trick is to take you off somewhere, somewhere you don’t expect to go, then bring you back ever so gently so it makes you think, ‘hang on a minute – what just happened?‘
The 60’s and 70’s were defined by certain genres of music, do you think it’s harder for musicians these days to be original because of that, as most of what is possible has been done? I think it’s impossible almost. You know? You have to try and get your music out there and get people to get a judgment on it at the very least, but there’s so much music out there, stuff being promoted all the time by everybody. It’s difficult to make an impression. (Anyone can put their music out there now). Exactly! Back in the 70’s labels would sign up a band, like The Eagles, who didn’t sell a bean for three albums and of course their fourth, bophh! Off they went for several years and that’s how it used to work. Labels used to nurture you, develop you, put their faith and money in you. That would never work in 2017, you’d get signed up for a single, then get dropped immediately (laughter). (It’s a tough game man). Yeah, it’s really hard! One of the things I thought I’d do with the E Type Boys is NOT put myself through that. I thought, “I’m gonna give the record company the record, once I’ve finished making it”. But, I absolutely didn’t want A&R people coming in to the studio and saying “You need to do this, you need to do that” etc. So, I thought, “I’d do it my way”. Then you can sell them the record, rather than you!
We touched briefly then on 60’s and 70’s being defined by genres – what genre would you put the E Type Boys in? Ahhh, I’m glad you asked that, we were talking about that collectively for quite a while and there isn’t really one! (Laughter) There really isn’t one, so we decided to make one up, we went with ‘Chunky Funk’ (Chunky Funk? LOVE THAT, I’m so glad you didn’t go with an amalgamation of words like Brexit – I hate that shit man) nah nah, yeah that whole text speak bollox that’s going on now, winds me up so bad, I love the Queen’s English man, can’t stand this brother nah, nah! (laughter) its drives me mad (laughter).
So, when you’re not making music, what do you get up to? I like to keep my feet on the ground, hang out with my mates and they bring me up when I’m not feeling too good. You know, this smoking ban has been a terrible thing, for smokers at least (laughter). We’re all of an age now so, you don’t get many places playing really great funk music or reggae or old school 90’s hip hop or something, you got to go find it now. So quite often I hang around my mate’s places or they come around here. If It’s a nice day, we’ll go down Richmond park, that kind of thing, you know. My working live is busy, so I’m pretty chilled when I’m not working. Failing that I have a rather large collection of guitars, every now and then one catches your eye and you’re just there for hours. (You got a Gold Top in your collection?) Ahh not yet. I have five Les Paul’s I think. I have a Les Paul 1960’s classic, an ES Les Paul, so it’s quite new, in fact very new. It’s like a hollow body Les Paul, but still sounds like a Les Paul. A Les Paul Custom and a Les Paul Dusk Tiger, the robot guitar that tunes itself (How does that work out, any good?) mate they’re amazing, with all the sounds that you have, with all the effects, take that away, yeah, it’s amazing, a really nice blues guitar. I also just bought a Les Paul SG shape, a ‘61 remake, fabulous thing, really bright, gritty sound. (What Colour?) White, if you send me an email address I’ll send you some pictures. (Will do man).
With the success you had with Faithless over the years, did that cause any anxiety when starting something totally new and different? Erm briefly yeah! (laughter) It has to be said yeah! (I guess it’s a big name to live up to with the success you had?) Yeah for sure! It was a massive thing, but honestly, I think what drove it first of all was we had eight songs, so it was viable. Write two more, then there’s an album. So it was like, it’s within the scope, I can do this! But also, what motivated me a lot was because it’s so radically different from what I’m known for, you can’t have a lazy journalist coming along and saying “well it’s not faithless is it, it’s alright but it’s not as good as faithless!” (Well they’re hardly comparable, right?) That’s exactly my point man, one’s an apple, one’s an orange and that really makes me happy because like I said, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s etc. Look at the Beatles, every album they made was different from the last. You expected musicians to grow and artists, and the music people made in their 20’s of course, was going to be different in their mid to late 30’s. I was 36 when we started faithless, I’m 59 now, I have different priorities, a different vibe going on and the E Type Boys fulfils that ya know? (Sure man). Also, they’re all great guys, we get on incredibly wel.-So being on the road is incredibly fun. I’m really looking forward to this whole adventure.
What have you got lined up for the rest of the year, are you on the festival circuit again? Yeah, we have a booking agent at the moment who is working his tail off, getting us gigs. We have some festivals lined up but not confirmed as yet. We have the Jazz cafe in April, a week after we are at the Cambridge Junction 2, then up to Newcastle (a full listing of confirmed dates will be below.)
On the festival front, I noticed Faithless are billed at some of the same events last year as the E Type boys. Coincidence? How did that all come about and is it going to be the case this year? Ahm, no. I was doing some faithless shows with the E Type Boys simply because Faithless had said they were putting out the 2.0 album and wanted to do some gigs to promote the album. And my first response was ‘actually I can’t do it’, because I couldn’t give three months away from the E Type Boys. I’d been rehearsing and recording the band over the past year and just didn’t have the time. So then then came back and said you can bring your band too and I’m like ‘well ok, that can work’ (WINNING) exactly! (Laughter). So we went and did shows with both bands, it was hard doing a double shift, it has to be said!
I can’t even start to get my head around doing two totally different shows like that on the same day. How? Well, what would happen is we’d do two shows where the E Type Boys would support Faithless, then all the others were on different days so it worked out nice really. For example, we were in Nuremberg for the very first festival we played, ‘Rocking Park’, a proper heavy metal festival. I thought ‘what the hell are we doing here?’ We rocked it! Then after the E Type Boys, on a bus to Frankfurt to play with Faithless to 80,000 ravers, then back on a bus back to Nuremberg to play Rock Am Ring again, to play in front of a heavy metal crowd! (Laughter) Quite often we’d do a huge festival with faithless then we’d do a very small show with a couple of hundred people. (That type of contrast is very cool, though right?) Yeah! it’s very cool (How do you prepare for that?) You don’t really, you just rock up and get on with it really and I love the little gigs as well. I’ve been doing the Faithless shows for a very long time so I know what to expect. I could probably do them with my eyes closed. But, you turn up with the E Type Boys and you have no clue what’s goning to happen next. You’re in a club that holds 300 people and with half an hour to go there’s like 40 people in there. Then out of nowhere like, these people rock up and you play for an hour and half, a set of music they’ve never heard before in their lives and at the end of it they’re all cheering loudly! You’re thinking ‘I like this’ (laughter).
I caught a TV programme you did some years back about your love for cars, I forget the title of it? Yeah, yeah Vroom Vroom? Yeah that was it! So, your love for E Types? Well, I don’t actually have an E Type yet, that’s my next acquisition if I can ever get enough money to buy one (laughter). I wanted a name for the band that reflected me I guess, which is a petrol head, quintessentially English and I really love the story of the Bentley Boys. Driving these big super charged Bentleys all the way to Switzerland or Italy or Germany. Go race and after, pull and drive home (laughter)! I just thought, ‘What a life!’ The E Type Boys came from trying to get something a kin to that really. The Mark ii RS 2000 Boys rolls off the tongue nicely? (lots of laughter) You got that exactly right! Although, I know there is a certain genre of people who would appreciate that, I know em’ all (laughter)!
Ok so a few quick-fire questions then I’ll let you get on with your day: Fire away.
V Festival or Glastonbury? Glastonbury
Dance Music or Chunky Funk? Chunky Funk every time
Insomnia or God Is a DJ? Insomnia, I think…??
Cassius Clay or Jimi Hendrix? Ahhh no no, you’re not getting me on that one! You can’t ask me that man, they’re both my hero’s. Both of them.
E Type or Mk2 RS 2000? E Type
Where is Palace going to be next season? We’re going to be in the Premier League without a question of a doubt, everyone goes through their troubles, we’re going through ours but we’ll be fine. You still on the board? Ah no, not really. That was mainly tied in to Faithless and the charity founding we did for the club but, I’ll be going back at some point to re-establish that.
Brilliant, thanks for your time today Max, I do appreciate it. All the best with the tour. It’s my pleasure, thank you very much too and thanks for the support from Flick of the Finger.