MAXIMUM RNR with Snot Rockets at Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen West), Saturday (November 26). $5 at the door. 416-504-4239, www.bovinesexclub.com.
It took one of the seediest restaurants on Queen for MAXIMUM RNR to feel comfortable enough to do an interview. Granted, the Barn is mostly inhabited by harmless seniors and smoke-coated plastic plants, but the choice couldn't be more appropriate.
The Toronto-based no-bullshittin' rockers have gone to extremes to remove any polish from their raw punk 'n' roll aesthetic. If it meant boycotting razors, forgoing colour in their artwork and recording in analog, so be it. This kind of rock isn't for the precious.
I'm sitting across from RNR's two Keiths, guitarists K. Maurik and K. Carman, who insist they aren't technophobes existing in their own little world of black leather and fuzz-tone guitar pedals. But they admit they probably took longer than most bands to make a few necessary technological leaps of faith.
"We toured all of Canada twice on those first two 7-inches, and we thought we were selling lots of records," laughs Maurik, whose five-year-old band released two singles prior to a self-titled compilation of the two. "Then, on the third tour, we were like, 'Holy fuck, people like buying CDs way more than vinyl. '"
"Fourteen-year-olds would ask me how to play those 'big black CDs,'" groans Carman.
MAXIMUM RNR'S new CD, Horns Up, should appease some of those kids trying to jam vinyl platters into their computer trays, if only for a short while. The blazing six-track EP is an ephemeral experience, and length-wise it's comparable to how long it takes to rip off the shrink-wrap, open the case and toss it in the player.
"We were probably some of the most surprised people about that, too," admits Maurik about the EP, which clocks in at under 10 minutes. "We had two days in the studio and wanted to do eight songs, but it came down to Ian [Blurton] mixing six with, like, 10 minutes left on the clock."
"None of our songs is particularly long anyways," says Carman. "To us, a song will feel really long; then you listen to it and it's, like, three minutes."
"Our epics are three minutes," quips Maurik.
Venerable rock player/producer Blurton's lo-fi, purist philosophy meshes seamlessly with MAX's stripped-down style, which is no surprise considering that Blurton, who leads C'mon, hails from the same world of high-gain amplification and on-switch energy.
"That's why we appreciate him. He's one of those guys who put it out live," says Carman. "He's a live artist, so he knows what we're about, and I'd like to think that his appreciating us has something to do with it, too."
Maybe Blurton can collect a decent paycheque once they finally cut their first full-length, something most bands a half-decade old would've done long ago. After this EP and an upcoming single on American mega-indie Relapse (home to Zeke), it'll most likely have to wait a bit longer. Not that Maurik and Carman are in any rush.
"You shouldn't be doing that unless people want it," says Maurik. "Why put out 20 songs when no one gives a fuck? It's about quality control."
You can see that RNR are savvier than they let on. Still, it's hard to picture what the apex of stardom is for this kind of straight-up rock band. Heavyweights like Turbonegro never came close to filling a stadium in North America; their keyboardist to this day still works in a pizza parlour. Perhaps MAX's humble aspirations will be the key to their longevity.
"We've already done more with this band than with our previous bands combined," Carman says.
"We have to remind ourselves that we can play locally on a Friday night and people will come out," adds Maurik. "I'd just be happy if we could come out with some sort of legacy, where 15 years from now people will say, 'That was a good band.' Maybe like, 'They suck now, but back in the day.... '"