tk: So why The Noise?
T Max: I was playing guitar in a band called The Machines, and we couldn't get any press. So we figured if we started our own monthly mag, we'd at least get one article per month. (T. pulls out the first issue, and sure enough on page 3 there's a Machines write-up.) At least we didn't put ourselves on the cover… It was a band effort, we'd write it, then one guy would make a thousand copies at his office and smuggle them out - page one on one day, page two the next day - then we'd get together and staple them.
tk: How long did the band last?
T Max: About a year from then. We did a 45, "Disposable Music," which made the cover of issue 3.
tk: By the time we met, I don't think you were playing.
T Max: After The Machines broke up, the other guys lost interest in The Noise, but I thought the scene needed it so I kept it going. It started feeling like a conflict of interest to be both playing in the scene and writing about it.
tk: I notice the very first issue has the famous bugle logo…
T Max: …which I lifted from Time Magazine. My mother-in-law worked for Time, and I asked her if she thought they'd mind. She told me no one who read Time was going to read The Noise. I occasionally played a bugle in my very first band, TCD - Mr. Timothy Charles Duane, dating back to high school on Long Island. We were very creative, used ukulele, clarinet, bugle, guitar, and three part harmonies like the Andrews Sisters. We moved to Martha's Vineyard together and got pretty popular. Then I started feeling claustrophobic on the island, and moved to Boston in '79. I joined Artyard -
tk: I remember them!
T Max: I thought I added a lot, but I eventually got kicked out. I was trying make it my thing when it was already their thing. I guess I wasn't meant to follow.
tk: But you're playing again now.
T Max: I'm doing the solo singer-songwriter thing, though I gig with my Gretch (electric) instead of an acoustic.
tk: Go Gretch! - The main character in my book plays a lime green Country Gentleman. You have a new CD out, On British TV, that's about half your songs and half covers, including a Sonny & Cher tune (!), and a stark, Leonard Cohen-esque "No Reply," which was also on the Low Budget Beatles tribute Across Their Universe.
T Max: I've been opening my shows with it, people seem to like it. I recorded the CD in Haverhill, out in the country, very different vibe than Kenmore Square…
tk: …which was where my band's rehearsal space was. When I moved to town it seemed The Noise always championed the underground, avant garde bands that wouldn't get played on WBCN.
T Max: BCN was such a big deal - they had a local Top 3 they'd run in the Phoenix, and those bands could pretty much count on sold out shows that week. I interviewed Oedipus (WBCN's music director) early on; he liked The Noise. But who we covered was pretty much determined by our writers. I never said, go out and write about so-and-so. The writers have never been paid, so they write about who they want to.
tk: Yeah, I did some reviews for The Noise, and seem to recall that… One thing that impressed me about the Boston scene was the accessibility. I'd lived for five years in LA, and the record companies all had security people prowling the lobby, you could barely talk to a receptionist without an appointment. But Boston had the Cars building a studio, with one of their stated goals being recording new bands.
T Max: Synchro Sound [the Cars' studio] was The Noise's first paid advertiser.
tk: That period, early-to-mid '80s, seemed like a very hot time, with the Cars' studio on Newbury St., Aimee Mann working across the street at Newbury Comics and then her band 'Til Tuesday getting signed. Publishing The Noise for 30 years now, are you aware of ebbs and flows in the Boston scene?
T Max: It's funny, whenever somebody asks me that, they always remember their time, the five or six years they were active on the scene, as when it was really hot. We had a great scene in the late '80s, then the goth scene in the '90s, and all the Boston Rock Opera shows [which T Max was one of producers of, from 1990-2000]. I've come to the conclusion that there wasn't one Boston scene - there are five to seven scenes happening at any given moment, who don't know the people outside their own scene. I only know because my writers write about them.
tk: Has the magazine changed now that you're up in Gloucester, after leaving Jamaica Plain after 28 years?
T Max: I used to be out in clubs every night. Now it's more like a few times a month. You'll notice our masthead now says "Music New England" - I want to cover artists who have had some success, who are doing creative things, across the region. Freezepop (on the cover of the current issue) did two completely different videos for their latest single, and set up their website so you can toggle back and forth between them as you listen to the song. That deserved the cover.
tk: I notice Rita and Lolita - the Rona Barretts of Boston rock - are still at it.
T Max: They were in the very first issue. "The question of the month" was an excuse to talk to people. Even though we were a tiny little fanzine, I always thought of us as a real magazine.
tk: That sounds like a good note to end on. Can you imagine stopping?
T Max: No - I've always been attracted to creativity, and that doesn't change.