His real name is Timothy Maxwell, but everyone knows him as T Max. And they know his magazine, The Noise, filled to the brim with music news, reviews and interviews, as a publication that has tied the New England music scene together for decades. Three decades, to be exact. The Noise brings its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration to its hometown – it got started in T’s Jamaica Plain home – for a on Saturday.
T, who is also a singer-songwriter, left JP a couple of years ago, but is looking forward to a return to his stomping grounds. He recently spoke about The Noise, how it’s changed over the years, and what it means to local musicians.
What exactly is The Noise?
It’s a New England-based, music-related magazine, published free, 10 times a year. We try to go more underbelly, instead of the upside with big stars. The rule has always been it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you just have to be based in New England. Although lately we’ve been allowing more star-quality people to grace the pages. The issue I’m working on now will have Peter Wolf on the cover.
What’s the biggest difference between the first issue in 1981 and the current issue?
The first issue was five pages, stapled together. But it was enough to make musicians realize hey, this is a little rag that we can get into. And that’s still what happens now; it’s like a stepping stone for new bands to start off getting coverage. It’s still stapled together, but it’s 40 pages now.
How did it actually start?
I was in a band called The Machines, and we were hoping to promote the band. We said, “Let’s put a monthly magazine out, and we’ll devote one page to us every month.” It soon got cut down to a half page, and I think we only put out four issues before the band broke up. But I realized that I liked doing this.
How has The Noise affected the local music scene?
I think it’s really helped the communication between musicians. That’s what unites a music scene. I like to think of The Noise as something that helps the pieces of the Boston music scene fit together.
There’s always been a strong music scene here.
Yeah, and it almost can’t die because of the way it’s built. It’s known as a big music place because of Berklee and New England Conservatory. So a lot of musicians come here, see what’s happening, and end up staying. That thing of new flow every year helps the clubs always have something new coming in.
Has your music been reviewed in the magazine?
Of course. The stance I took was that I was going to make sure I got treated just like everybody else. For my latest release, “Why Do We Go to War?” I went out of my way to find someone to write about it who didn’t know who I was. I didn’t get a great review. The guy was a hardened Vietnam vet – a medic who had seen so much combat disaster, he looked at my thing and thought, this is trite compared to what I experienced. And that was OK; I can deal with that.
What’s going on at the Midway gig?
I asked Mr. Curt to put the show together, but I’ll be playing a couple of songs.
The Noise’s , produced by Mr. Curt, is set for Saturday starting at 9 p.m. Acts include: Yani Batteau & the Styles, Jon Macey & Friends, T Max, The Grownup Noise, Bird Mancini, and The Nickel & Dime Band – featuring JP resident Rick Berlin. Admission is $10.