By Shelby Smoak
When I get Maxwell Feinstein on the phone for our interview he is walking the streets of New Jersey on his way to Silver Horse Sound, the recording studio where Maxwell can be found tracking his own music, streaming live music posts on Facebook, or working with other artists who have booked time with him.
Today he has two rehearsals, a bass tracking session, and a mix session. “Tomorrow sees us doing two more recording sessions unrelated to the session previously mentioned and I’ll be meeting with a potential songwriting partner for some children’s music,” he adds. In a world where earning your keep with music has become an almost impossible task, Maxwell, a person with hemophilia, is able to keep things moving.
Maxwell got his first guitar at age eleven inspired by Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the “teen spirit” to play music struck hard. “I had been participating mostly in choirs or theater before this,” he says, “with brief flirtations (weeks of interest at most) on violin, flute, clarinet and saxophone.” But once Maxwell found the guitar, he took school hours to steal away into an unused handicapped bathroom which he transformed into his band room. “People used to use that space as a make-out room,” he says, “and I would just sit there practicing.” Maxwell adds, “If you wanted to get some necking in, you’d have to put up with me practicing” because nothing was getting between him and his guitar.
Now, in addition to running a studio, Maxwell dons a guitar or bass—depending on the need—in a bevy of touring bands: Jaime Della Fave (Jaimerosey), BWQ (or Project BWQ), Terra Electric, The Love Network and Debra Devi.
“My policy is basically that I’ll perform with anyone who asks!” he enthuses. He also writes, performs and records his own music, some of which can be heard on his solo release Round of Sound. In talking about Round of Sound, Maxwell calls it a labor of love with himself and other friends who helped him complete it. “I played most of the instruments save for the drums, and we did it in our rehearsal room just stringing microphones up and grabbing the sounds 60’s style with little regard for sounds bleeding onto the tracks.”
Stand-out track “Mad Dog’s Promenade”, released in 2012, highlights Maxwell’s whimsical style with its off-the-cuff lyrical refrain, “Smile to myself as I walk.” “It’s a song about walking around town, going about my business while musing on how good I have it if I get to go make music when I’m done walking around,” he says of the track. But not all his songs are easy-going tunes. “I’ve written about coping with those I’ve lost,” he reflects, “and I’ve written about loves current and past. I’ll often write about whatever’s interesting to me at any given time.”
And then there is Maxwell’s hemophilia, which, as he says, “visits me when it wants.”
He has lost cartilage in his elbows; played shows with ankle bleeds, knee bleeds and elbow bleeds; dealt with nose bleeds while on tour. “I had a nosebleed from two days before we left on a tour until the last tour day two weeks later,” he says. But it hasn’t stopped him. He takes care of his hemophilia so music can take care of him.
Before ending our interview, Maxwell offers this advice, culled from his own experiences: “Try your best to figure out what makes you happy and what builds community around you and how you can make it grow into something you can be proud of toiling for.” Maxwell has done just that.
Maxwell Feinstein’s music can be found at: http://www.maxfeinstein.com