An Interview with MAX
I spoke to Max Schneider just before his support slot in Birmingham on the Fall Out Boy Mania Tour. We spoke about Fall Out Boy, social media, and the reaction to his music. It was great to speak to him during such an exciting stage in his career, the conversation was as energetic as his performance later that evening.
Ellie: Hey! How are you? Are you looking forward to the show later?
Max: Hey! Really good thanks. Yeah, I’m very excited. It’s my first time performing in Birmingham and my wife actually grew up pretty close to here so it’s nice to be in the area.
Ellie: Awesome! It should be a good night. So it’s the first show of the tour right? Are you looking forward to the tour in general?
Max: Yeah, first show of the tour and I’m so excited. I love the whole Fall Out Boy squad, they’re all such amazing guys and their hard work is so inspirational, that’s really the reason they’re still doing their thing. It’s amazing to be able to learn from them and watch their show every night. I also get to fan boy over the classics like Dance, Dance and Sugar We’re Going Down which is fun. I grew up obsessed with those records!
Ellie: Yeah, I can’t wait to see them play those songs, I grew up on them too. I know you have quite a link with the band being signed with CDC2 Records which is Pete Wentz’s record label, and having toured with them in the past.
Max: Yeah that’s right! I toured with them in 2015 with a bunch of other musicians like Wiz Khalifa and my friend Hoodie Allen and that was actually the tour that I started dating my now wife so it all comes full circle!
Ellie: Oh that’s awesome, it must be really great to be back then. So could you give me a bit of history behind being signed by CDC2?
Max: Sure, I was releasing music on my own and I had been through a couple of different, terrible label situations and Pete just kind of caught wind of me, he heard my music and loved it. He definitely has his ear to the ground and he just reached out and asked if I wanted to go to a show so I went to one of their shows with two of my best friends who were obsessed with them as well and we hung out afterwards. He kept inviting me to things and we kept hanging out and then he asked me to be a part of the label which was a dream. I love all of the acts and it’s amazing to be a part of it.
Ellie: That’s really cool, I was going to ask how they’ve been as a label but it sounds as if they’ve been amazing.
Max: Yeah, totally. What I love about it, and about them in general, is that it’s always about the little details, like Pete showing up for a music video and shaving my head, and all the little anecdotes and bits of time that we spend. I think that quality is what made Fall Out Boy the act that they are and it’s what makes the label work so well.
Ellie: Tell me more about when Pete shaved your head for a music video?!
Max: (laughs) Yeah so…I have a song called Holla and in the video I really wanted to take a big risk and go for something totally different. I’d told Pete and I was trying to figure out some fun hairstyle or something and he showed up on the day and just shaved my head into this Mohawk style for the video, it was a really fun day. So yeah, I ended up with a Mohawk for a while, which I then figured out is not my preferred hairstyle but I can say I had one styled by Pete Wentz which I’m glad of!
Ellie: That sounds fun. It makes the whole thing like a little family doesn’t it? It must be great to have all of these little stories because it’ll be a time you look back on with such warmth.
Max: Yeah absolutely, it really is like a family. Patrick is great too, we have a song that we wrote together for my last record called 10 Victoria Secret Models, he’s just such a legend. Getting to learn from, write with and tour with them is just such a pleasure.
Ellie: Totally. Am I correct that you’re 25?
Ellie: Because I know you just mentioned that you were a Fall Out Boy fan when you were younger, were you a bit of an old school emo?
Max: I wouldn’t say totally. I definitely liked the emo scene but I was into so many other things as well, I was kind of all over the place but I loved Fall Out Boy and I loved Panic!. I was like a shiny emo boy.
Ellie: I was the same! I loved the emo scene but I was never allowed to dye my hair or get my lip pierced so I didn’t really fit the part. It was such a huge part of our generation though right? What’s your favourite Fall Out Boy song?
Max: Yeah it really was. Dance, Dance is forever the one for me. I don’t know what it is about it but it’s such a classic; I love the story behind it, the passion, the song itself, and now I know everyone it’s become more and more my favourite. In the music video there are a couple of people that we all still work with and now I know their faces it’s even better to see them in the video.
Ellie: That’s awesome. So for 25 you’ve done quite a lot with your life! As well as music you act and dance, so tell me about some of your favourite things that you’ve been a part of?
Max: Yeah, I’ve been very lucky to have done everything that I have. Everything with Nickelodeon was wonderful and I learnt a lot from that, it was really special. The Dolce and Gabanna advert with Madonna was very surreal. Broadway was great too. All of these little moments just contributed to me realising that I wanted to do music really. It helped me develop the act and led up to where I am now.
Ellie: It all comes together really well, it must be a dream for the producers of you music videos!
Max: Haha yeah!
Ellie: So it was always music that you wanted to do then?
Max: Yeah it was. I spent a lot of time being a yes guy, I said yes to every single opportunity which is why I’ve done so much. More recently I’ve realised that it’s actually okay to say no to things, so instead of taking part in movies I’ll happily say no, I want to go on tour or work on my next record or whatever. I always knew that I wanted to do music but I was never ready to commit really. I wish I had learnt to commit earlier but you can’t regret these things in your life, there’s a reason for them all. It’s really been eye opening and amazing to have the last couple of years just totally committed to music because it’s what I felt like I’d been preparing for.
Ellie: Yeah, I’m definitely a believer that everything happens for a reason. I think it’s probably a good thing that you were such a yes guy to begin with because it gave you the chance to put all of your experience together and do what you had wanted to do. So all of these experiences must have taken you around the world quite a bit, where is your favourite place to have visited?
Max: Great question. I love the UK of course, it feels like a second home with my wife and her family being out here. I love Amsterdam, that was one of my favourite shows of the last tour. It’s been cool to go to very different places like The Philippines and Hong Kong. I love seeing all of the different cultures. It’s great because it makes you think okay what is the common thread here? Which sounds translate to people? I love getting to really dive into places that I otherwise wouldn’t have known very well.
Ellie: So do you think travelling is something that you would have done a lot of if it hadn’t been for your career?
Max: Yeah I probably would have but I also love home, if I didn’t tour I probably wouldn’t be such a risk taker. I’m so glad that its part of what we do because otherwise I feel like I would just be taking naps (laughs).
Ellie: So a little bit about your music then, Lights Down Low is a big track at the moment, it was used on a Snapchat filter on Valentine’s Day right? How did you feel about that happening?
Max: It was indeed. I found out the night before, I’m so grateful it happened and it was such a great surprise for Valentine’s Day. I wrote the song for my wife and I proposed to her with it so it fits the theme!
Ellie: That’s so lovely, so the song must mean a lot to you.
Max: Oh it means the most, it’s everything to me. I’ve learned to fight for what I believe in and I make sure that every message I put out there is in its truest form. It’s the one that’s been heard the most by people and it’s beautiful that it is because our message has always been love is love, people should be comfortable with who they are and get to love who they want to love. That’s the vibe that I always want to bring and I hope people feel it at the shows, accepted no matter what their race or sexuality, they can come to this space and just feel free to be who they are, that’s what the song is about!
Ellie: That’s beautiful. So what are your thoughts on social media then? It’s a huge thing with massive pros but also obvious cons.
Max: Totally. Well I love social media personally, it’s influenced my whole life and career in tremendous ways and I am really grateful for it. I have different people that are now a part of the community we try to create who I can talk to on Twitter or Instagram. I can meet someone in Amsterdam and then be able to continue speaking to them through social media which I think is amazing because they can become more involved in our community and connect with more people from more countries, it can be really powerful and really positive. You can directly thank people for being a part of the world you’re trying to create, it’s incredible to connect with people. All of my artwork is done by an incredible artist who I found on Instagram so I may never have known about her otherwise. Of course on the other side of that, it is very addictive. You do look around and see everybody glued to their phone instead of talking to each other, and I am definitely somebody who does that and I have to stop myself. I do try to live in the moment more but it’s such a big part of our society now.
Ellie: Well the messages that you promote are so positive that surely it can only be a good thing that as many people are hearing them as possible.
Max: Totally, that’s good to hear so thank you.
Ellie: No problem. So back to music, who are some of your musical influences?
Max: I like so much. James Brown, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Prince, Etta James, anything from those artists to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Anything where you really feel that raw emotion and you can tell they went hard with it.
Ellie: There’s quite a mix there and I can hear a lot of it in your music. How do you describe your genre?
Max: I tend to say pop soul with a bit of electronic, but yeah, a mix. I always describe my music as an emotional party. I like my show to be raw energy and then intimate moments, no matter how many people are stood there in the crowd. That’s how I want people to think of it too. It can either be a massive energetic frenzy or they can just be lay in bed listening.
Ellie: Awesome. What’s your favourite song to perform?
Max: We have a song called Basement Party and that’s about when I grew up in New York and I always love to perform that. It’s about making your own thing, having your own party. That’s really fun to play. I obviously really love playing Lights Down Low too, its amazing taking it all over the world and hearing people sing it back in their different accents and languages, it never gets old.
Ellie: I bet that’s so great. What do you tend to look for in new music? For me it’s always lyrics, is there anything you particularly look out for or would you say it’s just that soul feeling that its really come from the heart that you’ve described?
Max: I tend to look for stuff that feels unique. I love hearing something that it feels like I haven’t heard before. It’s an amazing skill when artists figure out how to make something feel familiar but fresh and that’s definitely something I look for.
Ellie: That’s awesome. Well it sounds like you’re into a really wide range of music, do you have a favourite song of all time?
Max: I’d say Billy Jean by Michael Jackson. It’s just one of those songs. It’s so famous and catchy but when you really strip it down and check out the lyrics, it’s so brilliant and authentic. As a writer, it’s so inspiring to see and hear a song that can translate from a feel good dance track to an emotionally driven song.
Ellie: Great! Well that’s everything. Thanks so much to speaking with me and I can’t wait for the show later.
Max: Amazing! See you there, much love.
You can follow MAX on social media @maxhellskitchen and listen to Lights Down Low here: