Who: Jayson Smith (vocals, bass), David Mullis (backing vocals, guitar), Mark Bassett (guitar), Travis Wisner (drums).
Sounds like: The urge to punch somebody and then punch yourself, and somehow finding humor in both.
For fans of: Red Fang, Unsane, Helmet, Harkonen, Botch.
When asked about the driving force behind his new band, Jayson Smith gives probably the last answer you'd expect from the frontman of an aggressive noise-rock act called Maximum Mad.
"From the get-go, my intent with this band was fun," Smith says. "Keep it light, keep it fun."
That might not seem like the obvious guiding principle for such loud, rampaging music, but for four musicians used to volume, distortion and yelling, the band's practically an extreme-music summer camp. Between bassist and vocalist Smith, guitarist and backing vocalist David Mullis, guitarist Mark Bassett and drummer Travis Wisner, Maximum Mad's members have done time in upwards of 10 other bands that hail from all over the spectrum, but share one attribute: "We all come from noisy-loud," Smith says.
Maximum Mad certainly checks that box. The band's first release, the Dear Enemy EP, opens with a squall of feedback before blazing ahead into an astonishingly catchy assault of in-your-face riffs and cyclical grooves that doesn't relent until closer "Obscene Gestures" concludes with—guess what?—more feedback. Grimy but melodic, shouty but not screechy or growly, thick but not sludgy, this should appeal to anyone who doesn't let their extreme tastes get in the way of appreciating pop melodicism and a sense of humor.
The band's name comes from a jokingly proposed title for a Mad Max sequel—Mad Max 2: Maximum Mad—and was selected from a group of potential names that also included Wiseass and Mekaneck, the latter being a reference to "the saddest" character in the He-Man universe, according to Mullis.
"As you can tell, we weren't taking things very seriously," Smith says. "And we don't. There's no reason to."
Regardless of intent, Dear Enemy certainly doesn't sound half-assed. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by veteran engineer Stephen Hawkes, who's worked with dozens of bands, most notably Portland stoner metallers Red Fang and fellow Stumptown noise rockers Gaytheist. The six-song set is spartan and cohesive, even if Smith once thought poppier cut "Unmanned" didn't fit. Hawkes wanted to record it and Smith says he initially protested, but then thought to himself, "There's no rules. We can do what we want!"
In the hands of less experienced noisemakers, that devil-may-care approach would spell unchecked disaster. For Maximum Mad, it's revealed the inherent fun in playing loud, heavy music with your friends.
SEE IT: Maximum Mad plays Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy Blvd., with Norska, Greenriver Thrillers and Drunk Dad, on Saturday, Sept. 30. 8:30 pm. $7 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.