About You: A Band With No Target Demographic
by Noah Adaikkalam
I joined Max, the lead singer and frontman of About You, a local indie band, for a three pm brunch. He was kind enough to cook potatoes and bacon for our interview. We talked about music and the current state of the band and local scene, as well as some of his influences, his artistic process, and where he sees the band in the future.
“If you call a band “About You” you can’t really go into it with a target demographic.” This quote really sums up the mission, or as Max would say “the manifesto.” The band’s main goal is to create music that brings people closer to themselves, to “God with a capital G, self with a capital S,” Max said. He paused, re-centering his knife on a raw onion, before continuing. Max explained that this was an entirely selfless project, and he stressed the importance of selflessness as the main operating mindset for the band, claiming that there is an inherent humanitarian aspect to all the members. It has to show up in all elements of their band’s operation, from lyrics to the merch table. He stopped focusing on the stove for a second and looked directly at me. “The biggest dream is to just be able to bring people closer to, whatever you want to call it, through my music, and the bigger scale I can do that on, the more effective.”
He grew up in Dallas, oddly enough in Steve Miller’s house, graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, a school that boasts graduates like Erykah Badu and Norah Jones. He found his way to Boston through Berklee College of Music for guitar but dropped out recently to commit himself to About You. It is safe to say that he has spent his life surrounded by music.
I asked Max about some of their songwriting, specifically their song “Cactus.” From the stove, he chuckled and said, “I was really into this girl and she was into the fact that I was into her.” I asked him to tell me more about Cactus again and one of their other tracks, “Hunkydory” (2019). From there, he just started talking about his process.“I actually wrote both those in High School, it’s just a long time coming. I just wanted to get those songs out for a long time and I’m finally doing it.” Beyond that, his formula is to start with a rhythm, then writes draft after draft of the lyrics, sometimes as many as twenty, until he finds something perfect. All that is left is to sew them together.
Their most recent song, “Pardon Your Figure”, came out on March 15. In it, Max talks about prescription pill addiction, both on a larger national scale and in terms of his own personal experience with pain killers.
He tries to create universal, yet specific lyrics applicable to anyone. “The more universal I can make things, the more true I am to the name. I found that in universality, it helps to be very specific,” Max said. He then trailed off singing some lyrics, before returning to tend to the bacon on the stove. After a brief pause, he continued. “It’s about being fucking honest and straightforward and admitting things to strangers I can barely admit to myself.”
Since dropping out of Berklee he has found himself as the manager, booking agent, lead singer/songwriter, and frontman for the band. He tries as hard as possible to work with a timeline and stay on top of his new responsibilities. Booking, he explained, was just emailing venues and finding a way to make it work. He wants to apply the same philosophy this summer, relentlessly promoting the band and not letting anything get in their way. Then he turned the stoves off, brought out plates, served the food, and sat down next to me.
About You wants to see more from the Boston music scene, Max said, because it was fairly non-existent. At this point, the band is moving out of their basement show phase. They had a tour lined up from Dallas to Boston, March 13th to 23rd. Starting with a show back home, then moving through Austin, playing some shows at SXSW, before heading through the East coast and back up to Boston. When I asked him how he felt about that, he answered really humbly, looking up from his plate. “It feels great,” he said. They plan on moving the band to Los Angeles over the summer to find a more palpable local market.
I asked him about aspirations moving forward. “I want to try to do a thing in Africa, Europe, and UK this summer. It’s super doable, I just have to make it work. Not a delusional make-it-work, but you do the things that need to be done,” Max said. He has always been that motivated, knowing from a young age nothing was going to stand in the way of his aspirations. That philosophy is what has carried him this far, he believes
After talking, we headed to the studio and met Pete, the band’s guitarist. The energy between the two of them was visible. I asked Pete what his role in the band was to which he responded, “Fuckin shredding,” and then we all started laughing. Pete plays in another band, and plans on moving out to California with Max come summer time. The entire band is moving up, and every member can feel it, motivating and pushing each other further. The sky’s the limit for them next year.
As for right now, About You has an album coming out later this spring, entitled “All There Is.” It will follow their same manifesto, promoting empathy, and generating as much good energy and fortune out into the world as possible.