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Local Listens: MAX presents Slow Rage


Written & photographed by Max (they/them) | @theundeadllama | Contributing Writer

Every so often I’ll come across an artist who screams originality and genuine good vibes. Slow Rage (@slowrageofficial) has two of them, consisting of the superior Max, Max Hill (any pronouns) on vocals/guitar and the insane speed demon Sam Hatley (he/him) on drums. If you don’t know them, then fix that and go check them out - you won't regret it. Slow Rage is a genre bending band with attitude, who’s live shows hit a level few others achieve. For the past year they've been smashing it playing gigs most weeks, but now they are taking a year in the studio to work on new stuff, some of which will be out later this year. I’ve been shooting their gigs for a while now, so I caught up with them to learn more about the band's origins, their sound, and if they think I’m their best photographer. 

MAX: Hey, Sam and Max, how are things?

Sam: Heyyy. Things are good! Things are very good.

Max: Hello! Things are lovely. Things are amping up in terms of our creative process right now, and it’s something we're very excited about to finally release some new stuff.

MAX: Is there a song that you guys recommend to people if they haven't heard of you? 

Sam: I would say Rat Poison and The Mirror!

MAX: So for those who aren't aware, What is Slow Rage? Where the fuck did that come from?

Sam: We were always friends, and we’ve always loved music, but as things went along, Max had this solo project, which was Slow Rage, and we were doing another band separately.

MAX: Which shall not be named.

Max: Bananas in Pink. What. I didn't say anything. Wow.

Sam: Anyway! Yeah, so it was that, but I was thinking “why don’t we just merge the two”, since we're making similar music anyway. So we did. That eventuated in ‘THE LOW-DOWN’ releasing, which was us figuring out what our sound was and how we worked together. 

Max: Yeah, I think our musical chemistry depends on how close we are as friends a lot of the time. Last year, we became closer than we ever had, and so you can hear that in the quality and style of our new music. It just feels like two friends making shit that they love.

MAX: And making love?

Sam: And making love, AND making shit.

Max: Ahh I didn’t think you’d bring that up but ahh… yeah.

Sam: The people need to know…

[everyone laughing]

MAX: You’ve both played with other bands - Max with Coast Arcade and Sam with Back To The Hillside; has this changed how you two have made music together?

Max: Yeah, I mean, there's only so much that you can learn from staying in one creative project. We were both very insistent on going out and doing other projects, and then taking that knowledge and applying it to Slow Rage. Coast Arcade was my first time with an “industry band” that does tours and festivals and stuff. Figuring out how that works was really good because with Slow Rage, we plan to do that kind of stuff as well, so I’ve kind of gotten the inside scoop on how we're supposed to operate in that kind of environment. It’s also great working with other people, because I fucking hate Sam.

Sam: Boooo!

Max: Haha, nah! It's just great to be in a room with different creative people.

MAX: Your shows feel almost choreographed in a sense, but you guys don’t write a set-list. How does that work?

Max: All it is, is trust. We trust each other to mentally prepare for the sets, just to have them in mind when we're playing the shows. 

Sam: When we rehearse, we just bang out a bunch of songs. And then if we want to swap something in the middle, I'll be like, “Max! Can we do this?” 

Max: He’ll just shout it out during the show. A big fun part of that is that we don't always get encores, obviously, but we don't plan encores either. During rehearsal, we just play a bunch of songs that we in no way intend to play. If people want another song, we ask “what do you guys want to hear?” And it's been quite funny recently, because we've been practising a lot of our songs, except for this 100 gecs mash up that we do (editors note: this shit live fucking rips). We never practice it, and then it always gets asked at the show. So I feel like us doing it live is our version of practice. It's slowly gotten less and less sloppy as time goes on.

MAX: Okay, so on the music side of things, I know both of you are heavily influenced by IDLES. Are there any other bands that reflect your own personal tastes?

Sam: Ugh, this is SUCH a fun question. Sam proceeds to pull out his phone. 

MAX: Don’t look at your phone!

Max: He’s going on his phone in a fucking interview!

Sam: I was trying to look for bands!

Max: I think there are bands that we individually have our own connection with, and then there are others that we’re on the same wavelength with.  Drug Church is a great example! You mentioned IDLES Max, they're basically like the American IDLES. Like IDLES are more…

Sam: English. Drug Church are more American.

Max: Probably cause they’re from there.

Sam: Yeah, yeah exactly.

[Both laughing]

Sam: The next album is inspired a lot by dance music - we love Underworld. They were my “Oh, there's more music than rock music!” band. I'm also really into hip hop, Spanish jazz like Arthur Verocai, and I started listening to African chanting music and shit. Punk, hardcore and rock has a lot to do with our band, but there's a lot of other stuff that I listen to that doesn't have anything to do with the music we make.

Max: We can sometimes be on different wavelengths, but then it comes together to form this cohesive sound. I'm more leaning towards hardcore, a lot of the time. When I first heard ‘Jane Doe’ by Converge, I thought it was the coolest album I'd ever heard. It was just so abrasive, and I was like, “Oh my god, music can be this insane and still listenable!”. Also, lately I've been listening to a lot of shoegaze. I'm really getting into Wednesday, and their guitar tones have influenced me a lot. In terms of my vocal style, it's hard to pinpoint where I take inspiration from, but I listen to a lot of soul singers like Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye. Also Hayley Williams, but I can't sing that high!

Sam: Hayley Williams was also inspired by soul music! She grew up in gospel churches and stuff.

Max: Yeah! So that’s the blueprint.

Okay, we're getting into some very serious shit right now. Y'all good with that?

Sam: Yeah yeah I'm fucking ready

Max: Yeah, fuck yeah. Keen as.

MAX: Who’s your favourite photographer?


Sam: Nahhh…

Max: What!? SAM! [Sam laughing] What the fuck! Who else is there that's better?

Sam: No! It is, it’s you. It is the one in front of me right now

MAX: The fuck, guys. There are so many amazing people out there!

Sam: Well, I guess we're wrong…

MAX: With my photography, I don't wanna be too professional. Do you guys ever feel that way about music? 

Sam: Punk Rock? 

MAX: Yeah, exactly.

Max: I think it's hard for musicians to be considered professional because most people think it’s not work, and that you're just fucking around all day making sounds, but you absolutely have to be a professional in order to make money from your music. 

Sam: Yeah the creative process is unprofessional, but the way you do everything else is. I don't think anyone is like, “well, it's 12 o'clock now, so I'm gonna go write a song!” But the other stuff is more calculated.

Max: But there does have to be a balance. If you're doing music, and you're not having fun. Why? Why are you doing it? If you’re making art it’s supposed to be fun.

MAX: Do you two feel you've got a balance of that, or is it still something you're trying to figure out?

Sam: 100% we’re still figuring it out. I feel like you have to practice everything else as much as you practice the music itself. Like, marketing and strategies with releasing stuff, that's not something that comes naturally to most people.

MAX: Totally!  With that, do you guys feel that the current Aotearoa music scene is “healthy”?

Sam: Healthy? That is an interesting question… I think there are bands that keep it healthy like, Late to Chelsea, Melanie and DARTZ. They help keep live music exciting, but people don't always want to seriously be in a band because it takes a lot of commitment, money - and stupidity, in a good way. 

Max: I think a lot of bands find it hard to break out of the local scene a lot of the time, like us! We've been trying for five years. It's. Really. Fucking. Hard. And I don't know why that is, if you look at Wellington you can play at San Fran or Valhalla and people will turn up, even if they don't know your band. Almost instantly you can get a following, but, in Auckland, I feel people tend to come to the gigs because it's a gig. It's something to do, you know, not for the music. And that's fine, people should experience gigs and enjoy gigs in whatever way they want, but it just means it's hard for bands to maintain a following of people that are engaged with what they're doing.

MAX: Do you think that it could be a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ thing?

Max: it could be, it could be. You've just got to keep at it.

Sam: I've heard of people who go to Australia, and then wouldn't recommend it, because it's just going from one small music industry to another, “bigger” small music industry. But also I think in some ways it’s an advantage to be really good at New Zealand music, because it's not all doom and gloom, there are great bands here, and every time we play a show we get a little bit blown away by how much talent there is in Auckland and the country as a whole. It's just really common for people to say, “what's the music scene in Aotearoa?” But there's so fucking much out there, you just have to pay attention.

MAX: Any bands in particular?

We went on a super long and rambling tangent about lots of random bands and mutual friends, gigs and junk, so here is a list of cool NZ bands in no particular order. Check them out!

Chlorine, Feshh, Fish Bait, Ringlets, Office Dog, The First Child, The Weather Here, Synthesis of Self, High Voltage, Buzz, I.V.Y, THE DUD UGLYS, CARTHAGE, Mull Brain, Melanie, [Allophones], The Beatniks, Groopchat, Pocket Money, Drop Off Point, Xile, Miss June, BRAWLER, Take Hold, ELLIOT & VINCENT, The Ideas, Chasing South, Club Ruby, CON.DRIA, Exit Sign, Cyanide Altar, Jack Bromwhich, Thinking Foxes, HIRI, The Boondocks, Late to Chelsea, DARTZ and many more!

MAX: Okay, that’s probably enough for the interview. 

Max: NAH!

MAX: We could literally spend hours talking.

Max: Nah yeah that's fair, we could.

MAX: Sorry if something didn't get mentioned, blame Sam & Max, not me. Wait - that Max, Slow Rage Max…

Sam: Nah, gonna blame this Max.

That’s been Slow Rage, and if you missed out on their last gig at the start of April then sucks to be you, they’re taking some time off from live shows for a bit while they work on new material. They've got some tunes on the way that’ll be out later this year - so keep an eye, and an ear out for it over on their insta @slowrageofficial. Or mine, I’m sure I won’t shut up about it when it drops.


May 14

Love it Max (they/them).

Gillian (she/her) x


May 14


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