Self-described as “ham fisted rock ‘n’ roll skirting the boundaries of punk, metal and hardcore” Toronto-based Maximum RNR has been around the block. With roughly 400 shows under their belt, this punk rock juggernaut shows no signs of slowing. Armed with a DIY attitude, Maximum RNR does everything on their own terms, and their live show is proof they have a hell of a lot of fun doing it! The band recently released Rough Side of the Dial, a 12-minute ear assault that stays true to their roots, while blending in a few new sounds. We caught up with lead guitarist Keith Carman (now a resident of Wellington County!) to bring you this Q&A.
Maximum RNR is: Diamond Brent Panther – Vocals, Curtis Fox – Bass, Mike Child – Drums, Keith Carman – Lead Guitar, and KK Mauronik – Rhythm Guitar.
ML: How long has the band been together? Can you give us a brief history?
KC: The band actually started as Maximum RNB circa 1999 (yikes!) when K.K. Mauronik and I met at a Bob Log III show in Toronto. We were on that path until 2002 when we grew weary of people not understanding that our name was a Who reference and kept booking us with actual R&B acts. That, and we switched to a new singer. It was the perfect time to trade in the Who homage to one for the Punk Rock Bible via Maximum RNR. Since then, we’ve been pushing our version of punk rock ‘n’ roll as much as possible.
ML: You recently did a short tour in Europe. Can you give us a taste of what that was like? How do the crowds in North America and Europe differ?
KC: This European stint was our fourth overall and it just keeps getting better. People there are uninhibited. They’re outspoken if they like you. They’re outspoken if they don’t like you. Either way though, they’re not afraid to have a great time at a show. From the interesting sights to genuine music fans and amazing beer, it really is another world. That said, it is always great to be on home turf where people have been supporting you for…too long.
ML: Maximum RNR, like so many bands, has been plagued with member changes over the years. What do you feel Brent and Curtis (your newest members) bring to the band today?
KC: A rotating lineup is understandable as people’s lives change. Still, we’ve never regretted anyone that’s helped us along the way. They add their personal stamp to our sound/style. Moreover, if they need to go, it’s for the best. It doesn’t drag the band as a whole down. That said, Brent and Curt are actually getting pretty long-in-the-tooth with us! Their energy, spirit and vitality has been nothing less than a boost – or kick in the ass – to us geezers. Musically though, they have this awesome combination of fun and aggressiveness that’s a real riot.
ML: With so many shows under your belt, is it possible to pick a favourite gig?
KC: Yeah, I think we’re hovering around 400 as MRNR but there are still the highlights. They range from silly stuff like seeing Mauronik have to boot a guy in the chest in Winnipeg so the cat didn’t throw a monitor on him (dude was a little too excited) to performing at Rebellion, the largest European punk rock festival. Seeing a chunk of some 20,000 dyed-in-the-wool punks lose it for five stinky Canucks is incomparable. You’re thinking, “Who’s the idiot that thought bringing us losers here was a good idea?”
KC: The process actually varies. Mauronik is a completest, bringing in complete songs with every nuance addressed. It “decomposes” from that point to myself bringing in riffs and going, “Uh…I was thinking of something like this,” and waiting for input to drummer Mike Childs humming out a pattern while I ham-fist through it until playing what he hears in his head. That’s essentially how the Rough Side tracks came together: organized chaos.
ML: Are there any musical influences that all members of the band share?
KC: Too many! We’re all great fans of classic punk and metal bands as well as some of the overshadowed acts around the globe. Still, we’re all always in the mood for stuff like Hellacopters, Zeke, Supersuckers and Hookers while also championing the homegrown talent that inspired us to make our own noise: DOA, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Razor, Sacrifice…I’ll stop there so it’s not a tirade.
ML: Anyone who’s seen a Maximum RNR show knows that there’s a ton of energy up on that stage. Is your stage show something you’ve consciously cultivated?
KC: There’s not really a lot going through our heads when we play live, to be honest. It might be loud, sweaty and we’re all running around freaking out but it’s a pretty Zen situation. We’re in that moment and going with the flow. The only real mandate is to be true to that 13 year-old version of ourselves that picked up an instrument and said, “If I ever get to play a concert, I’ll give everything I’ve got!” How would the teenage you react? They’d go ape shit…and be pretty upset at the adult you if you were staring at your feet or whining about how many people are/aren’t there. Treat every show like it’s your last!
ML: Do any of you have any pre-show rituals?
KC: Bickering. Or trying not to, ha! It has morphed over the years as the lineup changes. Now, we just ensure one another is taken care of or has their space as need be, seeing as each person has their own independent ritual from stashing beers to panicking.
ML: What’s the strangest thing in your rehearsal space?
KC: Five sweaty guys playing punk rock ‘n’ roll? I wish we had something freaky to share like a six-foot baby bottle full of KY Jelly or a football helmet full of cottage cheese that we all ceremoniously eat from but really it’s just beer cans, posters and beat-up equipment.
ML: What’s up for the future for Maximum RNR?
KC: Bickering. Or trying not to, ha! We’re back in to our groove of the Ontario/Quebec circuit for a spell and looking to get back out across Canada post-winter. That is, unless the Euros let us back, hint hint.
Photos courtesy of: www.jezkeefephotography.com