Walloping heaviosity threaded with streams of blues and thrash (plus a large side order of Hendrix and the Doors) doesn’t begin to describe The Macks’ sound. This is music that takes you places—and it’s catchy, too. What more do you want? Hair? Well, there’s that too. And lots of it.
The band’s new album, Rabbit, features 10 tracks, from the irresistibly bouncy “Dripping Off the Lip (”The Enema Twist)”—great title, right?—to “Sequel of the Times,” which is almost eight minutes of controlled mayhem. The album was created during the months of the pandemic that The Macks spent living together in North Portland after losing their day jobs.
“It’s hard to say what Rabbit would’ve been without the pandemic, but I know that lockdown and no shows meant we had to really reckon with the music we were making,” says guitarist Ben Windheim. “We were forced to love the songs we wrote during that time, which I think is why we expanded the sounds we were making considerably. I think if there wasn’t a pandemic we would’ve written some similar songs, but we would’ve been thinking about our live show more and it would’ve kept us in a bit of a box.”
The Macks—brothers Ben and Josef Windheim (drums), Sam Fulwiler (vocals), Jacob Michael Perris (keys) and Aidan Harrison (bass)—formed in 2015. They still practice in their basement where, Fulwiler says, they have thrown together “a couple of couches and added soundproofing. It’s also where we are recording the next record.”
“Lyrics are tough in a pandemic,” Fulwiler adds. “Seeing the same things every day stuck in your house makes it hard to add any variety. Everybody was stuck and down. We didn’t want to dwell on the situation.”
Fulwiler has a spitfire delivery that can easily shift from the lower register Axl Rose uses on “Mr. Brownstone” to a Johnny Rotten snarl. “Sam had panache since the day I met him on the basketball court in the fourth grade,” Ben Windheim says.
For The Macks, songwriting is an ever-evolving challenge.
“Recently, our writing process involves jamming on one or two small ideas and just taking swings at playing it,” Josef Windheim says. “If it’s compelling enough, we keep at it, and the ones that get finished are usually the most compelling. So really we think we know it’s good before half the band has even figured out their parts. And if Sam wants to write words to it, we trust it.”