A talk with
MAXXXWELL CARLISLE (Guitar)
(Questionnaire by Sloof)
Recently, I reviewed the ‘Full Metal Thunder’ EP of American shredder Maxxxwell Carlisle, and because there are several things in the pipeline, it would be cool to have some more info, directly from the master himself. Let me introduce you to Maxxxwell Carlisle, a young, gifted, guitar player that is ready for some action!
Q: Hey, what’s up, how are you doing recently?
A: I’m doing great! I’ve got lots of stuff in the works that I’m looking forward to, both with my solo band and with Hellion. Ready to take over the universe!
Q: Did you see and read the review on the Metal To Infinity Webzine? How’s your reaction on it?
A: Yes I did. Great review. I have to say, it’s hard to argue with anyone who says, “this shredder is a maniac!”, and “he’s a rollercoaster when he holds the strings!” Good stuff right there. Some musicians don’t like to read reviews because they think it will change how they approach their music….such weaklings.
Q: Maxxxwell Carlisle might be a name that isn’t really familiar to the common metalheads in Belgium and Europe, but I believe that things are ready to change. First of all, introduce yourself and tell us how it all started!
A: Heavy Metal Shred Guitarist. Specializing in mind-numbingly fast solos and riffs that drill into your brain and stay there forever! I have released 4 solo albums in addition to several guest appearances including the new Michael Angelo Batio CD, “Intermezzo”. In addition to my solo band, I also play in the legendary LA based metal band Hellion. I have been playing guitar since age 14 and I love what I do!
Q: Your first name is written with triple X, which refers mainly to the adult movie scene. Why that reference, what has porn to do with your musical skills?
A: It’s funny…. Everyone thinks it’s a stage name, but it’s not. It’s my actual legal name. My Dad gave me that name and he refused to tell me why. He’s dead now so I guess we’ll never know. Another great mystery of the universe.
Q: You were also a professional body builder, with a lot of competitions under your belt. Can I say that music and physical appearance are the main goals in your personal live?
A: Music yes, but physical appearance no. On the outside bodybuilding seems like it’s just about how you look, and to a certain degree the competitive sport of bodybuilding is about that. However, the fundamentals of bodybuilding are simply about improving yourself, becoming more focused and disciplined and always having a goal to work towards. I can’t even explain how much it has helped me in other areas of my life. In music for instance… the way I exercise in the gym is very similar to the way I practice when I’m learning a new song or guitar technique.
The music industry can be very, very difficult and depressing and just lame in general. If I hadn’t had the discipline and internal drive of bodybuilding I probably would have quit a long time ago. Also, just to clarify, I am not a “professional” bodybuilder in the sense that I don’t compete for money. It’s sort of like the Olympics. It’s very hard work but you don’t compete for money, more for the recognition of your achievements.
Q: The body builder that we know best in Europe is Fozzy, I guess that you are familiar with him as well? He also played the Alcatraz Festival in Belgium last year, and the overall reaction of the crowd was beyond all expectations. Perhaps Fozzy is a kind of example for you, a kind of guideline how you want to work on your career, or am I totally wrong?
A: I think what Chris Jericho is doing with Fozzy is great. He has made a great segue from bodybuilding and wrestling to music. He’s definitely an inspiration but I wouldn’t say an exact guideline. I have a very clear vision of what I want to do and I feel like I’ve already made some great strides down that road. But I do admire what he’s doing and I hope he continues to have success in everything he does. I would like to arm-wrestle him someday though.
Q: You were involved in metal bands like Graceful Chaos and Deathriders, but nowadays you spend most of your time with Hellion. Before we start talking about Hellion, I would like to know a little more about the previous bands; How would you like to describe their musical style and direction?
A: Yeah for sure. Those bands were a lot of fun. Graceful Chaos was really the first band I was in. This was back when I lived in Seattle in my late teenage years. The band was really a hard rock / classic metal band. Not too different from what I’m doing now actually but you have to remember, this was in the 90s when Grunge ruled and we were doing a style of music that was not very popular in the US at that time. We played a lot of shows where we were the only real metal band on the bill. It was all pop-punk and hardcore bands. They still all sound the same to me….
Deathriders was later on when I moved to Los Angeles. I had actually already released my first solo CD by then and I was asked to join the band to replace a guitarist who had recently quit. Deathriders of course is the thrash metal band led by original Anthrax singer Neil Turbin. It was a total rush to play those classic Anthrax songs with the original singer. “Death From Above” is still one of my favorite songs! It kind of reminds me of the time that an asteroid exploded over Russia.
Q: I guess that you are mainly interested in the one and only U.S. Metal, the real stuff with loads of guitar solos and a lot of breaks and twists. Is U.S. Metal from the 80’s the cradle of all metal styles, do you agree that U.S. Metal is a kind of source, a kind of well of which all the rest is born?
A: US Metal has its own style. It’s unapologetic, in your face and unrelenting. Kind of like me I suppose. That being said, I have to give credit where credit is due. I think a lot of the real “source” metal bands came from England. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, X Japan… the list goes on. There must be something about being trapped on an island that makes you decide to rebel and play the most kickass music possible!
Q: Nowadays you play with the band Hellion, that is going to release a next album called ‘Karma’s A Bitch’. Can you tell us something more about the recordings and songs on that album; What may we expect?
A: Anyone who has been a fan of Hellion at any time in their career will love “Karma’s a Bitch”. It has everything that Hellion is known for. Ann is singing better than ever and the songs are very dark and very evil. This is the first new Hellion album of all new music in many years and I think everyone will agree that is has been worth the wait.
The line-up of musicians on the album is amazing. Ann on vocals, myself on guitar, the legendary Simon Wright on drums, Scott Warren on keyboards and Bjorn Englen on bass! It sounds huge! Listening to the album is like being run over by a tank, only you probably won’t die. But it will be that loud.
I am totally stoked to be part of this album. We will be doing a major tour of the US starting in October and we hope to be heading over to Europe next year!
Q: How is it to work together with Ann Boleyn, one of the purest and best female singers around the globe!
A: Honestly working with Ann has been great. Very natural and effortless. I really enjoyed the writing process on this new album and we have already started working on some ideas for new songs for future records. Ann is a very genuine, straight-forward person and a very metal person in every way you can imagine. She has gigantic magical crystals and cats that are possessed by demons. I’m not even joking. Plus, I’ve never seen her wear anything that wasn’t black. So much metal in one person. It’s amazing.
Q: Is it correct that you are also going to release an album called ‘Visions Of Speed And Thunder’? If so, please tell us all about it!
A: Yes! The mighty “Visions of Speed and Thunder” compilation album! I have released 4 solo CDs. 1 is instrumental, and the other 3 all have different singers. I felt that if someone bought just one of my CDs, they wouldn’t get a complete picture of what I was about musically. So I decided to take some of my favorite tracks from each album, re-mix and re-master them, and then put them all on one CD.
Plus, I recorded some brand new tracks to top it off! The title track features the mighty Fang VonWrathenstein from Lords of the Trident on guest vocals. His voice will rip your head off, then carefully sew it back on, then rip it off again!! The title track is available now as a single and the full album will be out later this year.
Q: Will the songs be comparable with the tracks on the ‘Full Metal Thunder’ EP, which means, a lot of melody, nice chorus lines, but above all loads of blistering solo’s!
A: Yes. Absolutely. Melody, catchy choruses and blistering solos is what I’m all about. I’ve tried to write songs without blistering solos and I just couldn’t do it.
Q: What are the labels that will release both albums?
A: “Karma’s a Bitch” will be released on Hear No Evil/Cherry Red Records. We are still working with labels for the release of “Visions of Speed and Thunder”.
Q: Can you tell us something more about the guy named Benjamin and his Online Metal Promo. What is the purpose, what is the goal to reach?
A: I’ve actually never met him, but I’ve heard that he’s tall, good looking and popular with the ladies. What more could ask for? His purpose? Bring metal to the world and beyond! He does a damn fine job of it too!
Q: Do you believe that this kind of sharing and spreading is the way you should work to promote your band and music? Decades ago, tape trading was the trend, afterwards internet and E-mail conquered the world, and both are handy tools to spread the name of your band and promote your own music the best way possible. Internet is a curse, but also a blessing for the music industry, right?
A: Yes, a curse and blessing. Sometimes I wish it didn’t exist, but other days I’m so thankful that I’m able to do so much with it and talk to so many people who share a love of metal. Anything that unites metalheads is good.
Q: Let’s say, 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be able to do this interview, isn’t it ? Now it’s only a few mouse clicks away… What are the plans for the next coming weeks and months?
A: Well like I’ve mentioned earlier, the new Hellion album, the new Maxxxwell Carlisle compilation album and of course the upcoming Hellion North American Tour are my main priorities right now. I am always writing and working on new ideas for the future. There are only good things to come.
Q: Is there any chance that you will come over to Europe to promote and play, or is it too early to cross the Atlantic?
A: I think with my solo band, it may be too early, but I expect Hellion will be back in Europe very soon, probably in 2015 at some festivals.
Q: What do you know about Europe, let’s say more particular, what do you know about Belgium? Any expectations if you would make the trip? Any things that pop up when we mention Belgium?
A: I really hate to say this, but in the US Belgium is famous for two things: Chocolate, and hating the French. Of course there are some great metal bands from there like Enthroned and Ancient Rites. I would love to go there and learn more about the country.
Q: Well, it would be really cool if we could meet and greet, and most important to see you play the guitars and give us a night full of shredding! Any last or final words that you want to share with us?
A: Absolutely. Hopefully we will have that meet and greet soon! As for last words, just keep supporting and listening to metal! And also, tell your local government to support a global asteroid defense program. The earth is completely defenseless from asteroid strikes right now and just one hit could wipe out humanity as we know it. All those great metal albums would be gone forever. We can’t let that happen.
Sloof: I want to thank you very much for your time and interest in M.T.I. If there is news to spread, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we wish you all the best in the upcoming weeks, months and years! Metal On!!