His name is Max Frost, and although his name might sound a little cold, he’s quite the opposite, as he is one of the warmest people with some of the hottest music out right now. Frost is currently on tour with fellow genre defying musicians, AWOLNATION and Twenty One Pilots. Not only has he taken his career by the horns and is running far with it, but he’s doing it on his own terms now. After scraping his old projects and his old way of looking at music from a hometown, homegrown perspective, he traveled, opened his mind and created Gold Rush.
Gold Rush, a stellar mix of stylings, vocals, and production, dropped at the beginning of October and is truly taking off with this gig alongside Twenty One Pilots and right after that he’s taking all his talent and all that he honed in on and is bringing it to life on his headlining tour. I spoke to Mr. Frost just days after catching his act in New York and was able to touch upon that performance, the dream achieving show, and more.
I was at the Madison Square Garden show the other night and I just have to take note of how much energy and talent you brought to the stage. I thought you were really fantastic and the perfect opener for such a dynamic show.
Thank you! Thanks so much for saying that.
Oh, no problem! Well, I guess that segues well into my first question: With these big arenas and maybe an audience that doesn’t really know your music too well just yet, do you get nervous before getting onstage?
In a certain way, yeah. I feel like most of the nerves really are there in the preparation for the tour. Like anything, the first few shows are the most nerve wracking and I think what it’s really about, for me, is beating up the show really hard during the rehearsals that I know that by the time I get to the show — or at least I try to tell myself that by the time I get to the show that even if only 80 percent of what I hoped comes across, comes across — then it should work. You never know, because you are always walking into the first time in front of a new audience thinking, “Is this music going to get a response? Am I too this or am I too that?” But I was very fortunate for the first few shows to find that the audience that they’re bringing to these shows seem to really connect to what I am doing.
Absolutely! I mean your songs are really great and they are truly genre defying. I have found that you blend a lot of different genres within them.
Thanks, yeah! I try to, at least.
I think that is really evident! So, I was wondering what inspires you and what you pull your own influences from when you write these songs and create your music.
I’m just trying to make stuff that I think that I have never heard before. You know, when I’m making music I’m trying to find something that feels connected to what I love, but not a repetition of what I love all the way. I feel like probably one of my main things that I have to work from and challenge myself to do as a songwriter is not to be too retro with a lot of my melody ideas. I was so raised on old school soul music that sometimes it’s hard for me to break out of that rut. But at the same time, I’m also so obsessed with hip-hop that it’s sometimes hard for me to find that balance where my music is able to find something in the middle of the two that I feel like really captures it all at once. The inspirations for me are truly all over the board, so that is almost the difficulty of making music for me is trying to touch upon all of it subconsciously while still saying what I am trying to say.
That makes a lot of sense, and like you just said, you credit hip-hop as being a big influence of yours, as well as bands like The Beatles. Are there any acts right now that are on the rise or are big right now that you are really finding to be unique and doing great things?
Yeah, I mean Twenty One Pilots is someone I was a fan of long before I was tapped for this tour. I think that to me they are another band that really bend genres in a cool way and are just writing songs that I think are really kind of setting a new world in the new tone for what can be done. I am a big fan of Jon Bellion, too. He is someone that I worked with awhile back, but he is actually putting out new music soon that I have been checking out that I am into. Those would be kind of the main two that come to mind.
For sure! They’re both great acts and vibrant talents right now. Speaking of Twenty One Pilots and opening of them, I know that you were about to embark on your own headlining tour when this opportunity came up, so I was just wondering as to how all of this came to be.
So, I was pretty much ready to go on my tour, as you know, and then literally three weeks out from it I got the call for this tour and it was a tough decision, it was like choosing between going forward with all of the things I have made plans for and knowing that I would have some fans that have been waiting for this and were upset. At the same time, this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I had to do it, but luckily, I was able to reschedule these dates of mine for the spring. They’re pretty much already locked in and I am waiting to announce them until right after I finish this tour, so those will be eminently announced for the Spring of 2019 — early spring.
That’s fantastic! Touring is something I know a lot of musicians love, so what is your favorite part about performing live and going out on tours?
The arena experience of this tour has been very, very different than most of the touring I have done. My favorite part about it is how many people are involved in making the show happen and how that becomes sort of a little city, a little family that is moving, working, getting to know each other. I think that’s kind of my thing.
When you’re touring clubs and you’re in a small group, you’re really around strangers all the time. All the people in the venue are different every time, but with this, you’re with the same people every night: Every time the guys working the stage are the same, the guy doing my monitors is the same. It’s just cool to feel that sense of bond and already be 10, 11 shows in and know that these are some people that I’ll probably be friends with for life — or at least as long as we stay in touch.
I can definitely see how that would differ as compared to a smaller, kind of ‘different city, different people, different places’ vibe and experience.
So, your record, Gold Rush, dropped not too long ago; just about a month ago, actually.
What was the writing and recording process like for that?
So, that album really all began when I decided that I absolutely had to get the hell out of Austin, Texas, which is where I am from and where I still lived right after I signed. I just knew that I needed to really hit the restart button and get onto a new page creatively.
The first step toward the record was kind of making this connection with Michael Fitzpatrick from Fitz and the Tantrums, who came to me around the time that Twenty One Pilots had just about won their Grammy. It was literally at an afterparty that he and I had the first conversation about him stepping into A&R and executively produced this album that I was trying to work on. So, I moved to L.A., threw away all of the music that I had been working on and I started over.
Things started to connect as soon as we had “Good Morning” as a single. That was one that came pretty early and then for 10/11 days I was on a trip to London. So, I sort of spent the year sort of traveling around the world looking for inspiration and putting record together and Fitz, once these songs were written, would really kind of take charge in getting these songs finished, especially with these producers, like Mick Schultz, who finished a bulk of the record and then another guy named Augie Ray, who I did “Good Morning” with and another song called “Sometimes” on this album. Basically, it was like I spent two or three years trying to make a record, not succeeding, throwing it away, and then I moved, found new inspiration, and was able to make the record I wanted to make in less than a year.
That’s awesome! That must have been a lot of fun, as well, being that you were able to do what you love, as well as travel, all at the same time.
For sure, for sure.
What is the meaning or where did the name Gold Rush, come from?
It kind of comes from that move to L.A., because like I said, it’s sort of in reference to the historical gold rush…oh, what do they call them? Not gold miners, but those people who went to the west coast in search of a new life, which was kind of the point of my life that I was in with this new record.
As an artist and as a musician, do you set goals for yourself as an artist? Like, since you played Madison Square Garden the other night, did you get to cross that off on a career bucket list or anything of the sort?
Yeah, for sure. It’s funny, because I remember — and it couldn’t have been more than a few months ago — that I was doing an interview just like this over the phone where somebody asked me what the dream venue is, and that was the one I listed, thinking that in four years or something that I would play it. It was cool that that popped up. When I got the dates for this tour, that was the one that jumped out at me. It was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening!”
That must have been a definite dream come true.
Post Bandito tour, where do you think you are going to go from there? What can we expect next from Max Frost?
I want to keep dropping music. I want to stay focused on sharing this album with people and letting it grow and simmer on people, but I do really want to get back in the studio. I am super inspired coming off this tour and spending time around all of this. Really, seeing any great show is inspirational to me, but especially seeing their show has really been cool. I think it kind of has gotten my wheels turning in a different direction for songs, and even for my show! I definitely plan on making more music and putting it out. Then, really, I’m just going to get ready to deliver a set for my headlining tour that I hope is as impactful as this short that I have been doing, but a longer and bigger scale.
I think you’ve got a lot to base that off of! Being that “Good Morning” was such an impactful song for you and your career, even though Gold Rush is a really fantastic album, do you personally look to release more singles and individual songs, or would you rather put together a really concise album?
I feel like this is really an album. I feel like it was tempered to be that. There were a lot of songs that I really, really liked — loved — and it killed me to not put them on this album. It really was for the better good for this to be a real album. I say that now with confidence because of the way people have spoken to me about it…or at least, people whose opinions I care about and really respect who have come to me and said that they feel like this really has across the board consistency and it’s not all about one song. That was the frustration for me with previous EPs that I made. I feel like I put out some decent stuff, but it was always just one song that really mattered or one song that got all the focus.
“Good Morning” has sort of been the breakthrough song for all of it, as you’ve explained, but already from these shows I can see that “Money Problems” is going to have its own day and chord. “Sometimes” is going to have its own day. I think “Slow Jams” is going to have its own day. Really, every song off this record has a place and I see people out on their own talking about it and it’s a great feeling for me as an artist to feel that I’ve put a great piece of work out there where each thing is connecting to people — whether it is half of it or all of it or even just one thing, but everyone individually is finding themselves and something relating to and enjoying.