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By Amanda Savage
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The early days of the Makers were decidedly violent; fistfights and flying bottles were regular occurrences at Makers shows. This is the band that, while playing a gig in Austin, called Texas small and said that all Texans are faggots, resulting in a riot.
Such aggressive instincts, coupled with the Makers' equally primal talent for '60s-style, stripped-down, snarling garage punk, made the Spokane, Washington, outfit the unwitting leader of a garage movement centered in the garage of Estrus Records owner Dave Crider's home in Bellingham, Washington.
But that's the past. These days the Makers are on their fifth full-length LP, Psychopathia Sexualis. The band honed its crass stylistics to a fine edge on its last recording, Hunger; Psychopathia is pointed in a different direction. Filled with soul, longing and passion, the recording is a monument to the Makers' maturity as a band, to their ability to reexamine and diversify once a pinnacle has been reached. The requisite flailing and wailing is present, but manifests itself in a hip-thrusting, drooling explosion at the point where lust, rage, art and style intersect. In contrast, softly textured ballads and a spoken-word track (by Michael and Don Maker's older brother, Vic Mostly) temper the maniacal patches of Psychopathia.
Because the band has deigned to bless the Valley with its presence on Thursday, August 6, Revolver rang up Michael, ultrasuave vocalist and co-producer of the new recording, to glean insight into the rock 'n' roll anomaly that is the Makers.
Revolver: Tell me about the transition between Hunger and Psychopathia; there's definitely a palpable difference.
Michael Maker: It seems to me it's a little more soulful. Every album pretty much is just a reflection of how we're feeling at that time. Our albums before were what we were feeling that minute, and we'd get it down on tape as fast as we could. Our latest album, we spent a little more time with it. Not a whole lot--we spent like four days in the studio as opposed to two. There's a little more personal feel to it, more than just like the energy level turned way up. We didn't really decide to do that; it just kinda happened, y'know. We spent more time and put more thought into each song.
I like this album a lot, but I like Hunger, too. For me, it's a success if we successfully put down the passion of that moment. Hunger, for that year, sums up that year for us; that's how we were. Psychopathia is how we are now; we're still, like, discovering new things and wanting to always see new places and hear new music. We've in no way found our niche; we're still moving, and I never wanna stop. I want our next album to be different, y'know.
R: The Makers are synonymous with the whole garage-rock scene in the Northwest, but this record really pushes the boundaries of that genre. Was that intentional?
MM: We've been trying to get away from that for a long time, 'cause I think the whole scene has kinda been bullshit for a long time. I kinda feel responsible for a lot of it. When we came out, us and bands like us, we defined the whole genre, and now, it's almost like our responsibility to step up and out and move on. It's just a matter of doing what we feel like now, fuck any formula, don't get caught up in what you know. Take some chances, go where you've never been, do what you don't know.
For us, it was getting to the point where if we just kept releasing albums like Hunger over and over again, we would make a lot of the purists and hard-core fans happy; they would like to hear that, but that's not what we would like to do. A lot of our good fans understand: "They don't wanna get caught up, stuck in a rut; they just wanna keep doing new things and making new music themselves." There's so much friction you get in a scene like this; it's real fascist, y'know. You either stick with the guidelines or you're fucked, they don't wantcha. If you can successfully diversify yourself, or change, or do anything that you feel, then you're lucky.
That's how it should be, especially in independent music--you should do what you want.
R: The violent aspect of the Makers has faded into the past. Is rock 'n' roll as dangerous and exciting to you now?
MM: Oh yeah, it's definitely dangerous and exciting, but in a lot of different ways. When we just started it was dangerous 'cause people didn't like the way we looked and they'd throw bottles at us and it was physically dangerous, getting in fights and all that. That's obvious danger, y'know; now the danger to me is just making the music itself.