1: Tell us who you are/a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me on this digital interview! I'm Max Yassky. I recently flew to Nashville to drum for a couple shows and on my flight over I asked myself how exactly do I market what I do? I'm a drummer, always have been always will be. My first instrument was piano and I've learned how to play (at the most basic levels) sax, violin, harp, trumpet, clarinet, trombone, guitar and bass. I'm a trained composer - I've scored a full length film - wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed it myself - I've done the same for some short films and advertisements. I've produced full length albums. Songwriting has become a big part of what I do - several of the artists I drum for I've also had the privilege of co-writing with, either in their bands or in side-projects we start together. I love helping people make their art and seeing how my part in it elevates their expectations of their own work.
2: What inspires you to create?
Everything. Things I believe I understand and things that bewilder me. Little things, big things. I'm easily and regularly awe-inspired - I'm so grateful for that fact.
3: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a creative profession?
The advice I've gotten, which is the rain to my crops, is most of what I would in turn share with someone seeking advice in a creative profession. I can't think of one morsel to suggest to someone without knowing what specific problems they're facing. There's bigotry to overcome, be it based on your external body or your mind. Personal insecurities - like self doubts and the doubts of others we're often internalizing without realizing. Then there are practical business concerns, like navigating the "professional" aspect of being a creative professional. Creative advice and professional advice are so different from each other most of the time; It's worth considering that you'll be embarking on two separate yet tangential journeys. All in all, maybe the best thing I could say here is to be kind to yourself, DO - don't just hope - and keep working. OH, and NEVER knowingly undercut your colleagues.
4: What's the best piece of advice you've received from another musician?
Warren Odze told me once over soup at Pret that he tolerates a whole lot of professional abuse but virtually zero personal abuse. That tidbit has been echoed by some of the most amazing veteran music pros I've ever met. The director chews you out for being late or missing a hit? Nod your head, listen, never make that mistake again. The director chews you out for having a big nose? Tell 'em to go fuck themself.
5: What is your favorite venue to perform at?
The bottom stage of Sunset Sunside in Paris. But generally? Who doesn't love a packed house show where all the folks know all the words and shake the foundations with raucous dancing.
6: Are you from a musical or artistic family?
My mother is an art historian; She wrote her PhD dissertation on intellectual property rights. She used to play the piano and flute - not at the same time. My uncle, her brother, is a professional clarinetist and music teacher. He gave me my first drum set, drove me to all my college auditions, and has been there for me any and every time I needed musical, professional, and personal advice. Their father, my grandfather who passed when I was months old, was at some point a trained actor and singer. Professionally though he was a ship builder and then ran a vet supply store. Me being an artist tracks, but I'm far out by the standards my family set.
7: Who is the first band or artist that became your favorite?
I grew up on the cusp of looking things up on the internet. I was watching VH1 some morning in 2000 when the music video for Trouble by Coldplay came on. I loved it, forgot who it was by or what it was called, and kept it alive in my head by playing it on the piano. I can play things by ear well. 5 years later I was in Harrod's, the superstore in London, when Trouble came on the radio. My 13 year old self tried to shake down the staff for answers as to what was playing, but got none. 3 years after that, sitting in front of YouTube, I realized the potential to look things up. All I had to go on were the lyrics, but that was enough to find the tune. I don't mind saying that I wept for a long time then.
8: What is your favorite format to listen to music on?
It's a tie between music videos, which kind of feels like a cheap answer, or the hybrid format of checking out a dozen cd's from the library, downloading them onto my computer, drooling them onto my iPod and finally zoning into that whole haul on some long ride.
9: What outlets do you find out about music from?
Friends and colleagues, that's always been the way for me. From pre-teens on busses passing around burnt copies of Led Zeppelin on portable CD players to whispers backstage about St. Vincent.
10: Name a band or artist that you think everyone should listen to.
Follow Max on Instagram: @maxyasskymusic