The first time N.J. Racket covered a NGHTCRWLRS show, Cooper took about two hundred photos of the set, and I’d guess about one hundred of those were of the band’s drummer Max Rauch. His excuse was “that dude has too much fun for me to take pictures of anyone else.” Totally accurate assessment. The second time we covered NGHTCRWLRS played out pretty much the same, only this time we introduced ourselves after the show and were thrilled to learn that not only is Max an excellent drummer that has a ton of fun performing, but he is also an incredibly chill and good dude.
Max Rauch is a name you’ve almost definitely heard before on N.J. Racket. Aside from NGHTCRWLRS, we’ve also covered his other band LKFFCT and we’ve reviewed more albums that he’s recorded and engineered than I can keep track of, including Salt Pepper Ketchup, from our own John Cozz, and most recently Within My World, by Sunflower. Max is easily one of the hardest working members of New Jersey’s DIY community and I am endlessly impressed by both the quantity and quality that he continues to produce and the knowledge and talent he shares with so many other artists is truly invaluable.
This weekend, Max will be playing a series of shows with both NGHTCRWLRS and LKFFCT, Thursday night at The Footlong in Queens, Friday night at Stosh’s in Fairlawn (a show jointly hosted by Sniffling Indie Kids, Mint 400 Records, and N.J. Racket), and Saturday night at The Pharmacy in Philadelphia. Still, despite the crazy lineup of shows and the mountain of work in front of him, Max took some time this week to talk to us about what it means to be a part of the community and why he loves being a part of Sniffling Indie Kids.
N.J. Racket (NJR): So, I’m having some trouble trying to figure out what your “label” should be in this interview. Max Rauch – NGHTCRWLRS, Max Rauch – LKFFCT, Max Rauch – Washington Square Park, Max Rauch – Engineer? There’s a ton of options. Why don’t you get us started by briefly introducing some of the projects you’ve been working on or have been a part of?
Max Rauch: I think “Max Rauch – lover of indie rock music, the great state of New Jersey, and good eats” is a probably a pretty proper summary of what I’m all about. My first real band was called “Tourmaline” I played drums. We were pretty active in the mid – late 2000’s. We did some touring and put out a few records. After Tourmaline disbanded I started a band with Keith & Brian (of LKFFCT) called “Washington Square Park” we put out a record, did a bunch of touring, and played about 100 Meatlocker shows. Currently, I am the guitarist, and co-songwriter/vocalist of LKFFCT and the drummer of NGHTCRWLRS. I also produce and engineer some spectacular bands out of the SIK rehearsal studio (Ghost Camp, C.R & The Degenerates, Whiner, and Sunflower) just to name a few.
NJR: I really just want to ask “how?” You sound so busy, so involved with so many different projects. How do you keep it all straight and how do you keep yourself so hungry and motivated?
Rauch: When I was about 14 years old I made a decision (in my own mind at least) to pursue music full time and for better or for worse I’ve sort of kept that promise to myself. Originally I thought I wanted to be on tour 24/7 but I fell in love with recording my own music and eventually got the bug to record other bands too. Keeping my schedule straight is sometimes a bit wild (especially in the summer) but staying motivated is easy because I love the work that I do and I’m blessed to have a great family and girlfriend who are emotionally supportive and extremely encouraging.
NJR: You’re not “directly involved” with Sniffling Indie Kids (SIK), but you are in two bands signed to the label, two of which are with Frank DeFranco and Eric Goldberg who are two of the label’s founders, and you also record a lot of the bands that are putting music out on the label, C.R. and the Degenerates and Rosey Bengal to name a few. Even if not directly involved with the labels operations, what effect has your involvement with the label had on your projects?
Rauch: I met Frank, Eric, and Joe [Lanza] of Sniffling Indie Kids in 2010 or 2011 – those days were kind of hazy – while playing basement shows in New Brunswick with their old bands Holy City Zoo and The Nico Blues. We hit it off instantaneously but sort of lost touch for a little while. In 2013 when LKFFCT was starting to play some shows, Frank offered us a gig at The Court Tavern and asked if we wanted to join in on their monthly rehearsal space in Clifton. We took them up on it and we’ve been best buds ever since. Whenever I work on a record that I love I’ll show it to the SIK dudes and see if they’d be interested in releasing it. I like to spread great music and so do they. It all happens very naturally.
NJR: How would you describe the community around Sniffling Indie Kids?
Rauch: Frank, Eric, and Joe are some of the nicest, and most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. What they have been able to accomplish thus far is incredible. Talk about motivation! These guys all have full time jobs outside of the label and yet they still find the time to release a ton of great music while they shred in multiple bands. What sets them apart is their eagerness to help nurture and develop the artists that they believe in. There is no facade. What you see is what you get and what you get is honest tunes delivered by a label that passionately cares about what it brings to NJ and the world at large. The community aspect is very supportive especially when it comes to the sharing of resources. All of the SIK bands that I’ve had the chance to meet are sweethearts.
NJR: You’ve been in the scene for a long time, you’ve worked with a lot of different artists both on and off the label, from your perspective, describe the effect the label has had overall on our New Jersey scene.
Rauch: There are so many people, labels, venues, websites, etc. that are doing their part to make a positive impact on the NJ music scene and while I strongly believe that Sniffling Indie Kids is definitely one of them, I’d be remiss not to mention Mint 400, Little Dickman, Rat Brian Records, Killing Horse Records, In The West, Meatlocker, BoonTunes, Not Just A Boys Club, Tyler Devin Curtis of Sunflower, CoolDad, You Don’t Know Jersey, WFMU, Jersey Beat, Do Your Worst and Don’t Worry, Venus Fest, Speak Into My Good Eye, and my most recent favorite — NJ Racket! This list could definitely go on and on for quite a while though. The garden state is fertile and it is symbiotic. Everyone working together is what makes it work.
NJR: The show at Stosh’s on May 5, Cinco DeFranco, hosted by Sniffling Indie Kids, N.J. Racket, and Mint 400 Records, featuring NGHTCRWLRS, LKFFCT, Rosey Bengal, and ManDancing, is in celebration of Frank’s birthday. Do you have a special birthday message for him you’d like the world to read?
Rauch: WATCH YOUR DRINKS FRANK…Don’t spill your smoothie pal… Also happy birthday and thanks for being such a great friend and positive force in my life.
NJR: Of course, N.J. Racket is thrilled and honored to be a part of this special event with both Sniffling Indie Kids and Mint 400, the killer bands that have agreed to play the show, and of course Stosh’s for having us. I’m sure it’ll be a great time and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone there.
Rauch: It’s sure to be a butt load of fun! If you plan on coming to the show and we haven’t met please don’t be shy! I love to chat. Thank you, N.J. Racket for allowing me to ramble. I hope we can talk again soon. Peace & Love, Live long and prosper.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.