Q. When you founded the band Graceful Chaos, at the age of fifteen years old...did you see your music career going as far as you have come and making it big time?
A. That’s a really good question...I mean I think back then, I really didn't see it going anywhere...it wasn't something I was really thinking about...but that was just like I wanted to get together with my buddies and start a band and have a good time. I never really thought about it as a career choice. I was in my teens and was just having a good time.
Q. In 2007, when you moved from Washington to Los Angeles, were you nervous at all? And what was your favorite venue to play while living in LA?
A. I wouldn't say I was nervous...I mean it was definitely a big change as I was born and raised in Seattle Washington...so I lived my whole life up there. But I was ready for something new. I was ready to kind of broaden my horizons or whatever you want to call it, and also I wanted to challenge myself. So I knew when I moved to la, some of the best musicians in the world were playing in la. So when I moved to la I knew I had to raise my standards and could not just be mediocre. If I was going to play music I was going to have to step up my game. So that was a big part of moving down there to learn from the best and rise up my own standards. Favorite venue...the house of blues on the sunset strip was a very cool venue. Unfortunately, its about to get torn down from what I hear...but you know there is a lot of cool places on the strip...the Roxy, the whiskey...which they have good and bad things about them. I guess I would say the house of blues on the sunset strip. And hopefully when they do tear it down...they will build a new one to carry on the legacy.
Q. What was your most memorable moment working with legendary studio icon, Ken Scott? What did you learn as a musician from this British legend??
A. Just his whole overall character and attitude about things. I mean he totally lived up to the British extremely like British legendary producer like name. I mean he would sit back in his chair with his feet up on the console...and he would have his hands crossed on his chest...and he would be like that was ok let's try that again. And he would be sipping tea...he would be drinking tea all of the time and that kind of a thing...and he would hassle you in a fun way. I would play a solo that I thought was the best thing I played and he would be like...oh, that was ok...its all right...but let's try that again. Just the whole overall thing and his personality. And he had all of these great stories about working with john Lennon, the stones, and some of these other amazing musicians...and it was fun that whole thing.
One thing that he...the stuff that was valuable to me was the technical things that he taught me. He told me the story about this one guitarist that was struggling to record a lead part. So he had him mute everything that he was playing to, he had him completely turn off the song and just play with the click track and not be able to hear any of the music he was playing too, just playing the lead part...and the guy thought this was a stupid idea, it was never going to work. And then he played the solo... And then they brought everything up...and it was like this amazing part...that he never would have come up with. And that was one of the things I did in the demo process, when we were first working with the songs. It was the same thing...there was a part and the parts were somewhat predictable to me and I kind of wanted to come up with something fresh sounding...and so I did that and it just was like amazing...and to have him communicate that to me was really cool.
Q. On the Karma's A Bitch album...did you have any of your own influence on the style of music?
A. Absolutely. The writing process really began with me and Ann Boleyn and then getting together with Simon Wright. It was definitely like that. When Ann and I first started talking...that was one of her first questions to me...are you comfortable writing?? Are you interested in being involved in the writing process? Are you comfortable with that? So that was right up front. And so after that conversation I started coming up with riffs...and then I would send them to her and she would say whether she thought it would work. Its something I am really proud of...my contribution to the writing on the album.
Q. Ann Boleyn has worked amongst some of the most famous rock artists of all time, most notably Ronnie James Dio. What have you learned from Ann and how does it feel to hit the stage with her as your front woman?
A. Yeah. It feels great. I mean the whole band in general has really good chemistry. And one thing about me is I have previous experience with working with a female front woman before. And I think the dynamics are a little bit different because there is always going to be more focus on her than the rest of the band because there is only one female and she is at the front. So it’s a little bit different of a dynamic. And she gives great advice to me and the rest of the band as well and has really made things go very smoothly.
Q. What bands did you idolize growing up as a young boy and what musicians most influenced your playing style?
A. Well some musicians influenced me as a guitarist...and some musicians influenced me more as a songwriter. I mean if I had to pick one band off the top of my head I would say Judas priest. Judas priest was a huge influence in me...of course Glen Tipton and KK Downing. They influenced me both as a guitar player and songwriter. So there’s really specific things they do...especially in the solo sections of songs...and the harmonized leads and such. That definitely shows up a lot in my own songwriting. And I still love Judas Priest. As a band I loved them the first time I heard them and its still with me today.
And then there were a lot of other guys and players that influenced me as a guitar player that kind of shrapnel era of thrash style. Players like Tony McAlpine, Jason Beckert, Marty Friedman, Michael Angelo Baio. Chris Impelliterri. The list goes on and on and on. There are also a lot of great Japanese guitarists as well that I like. Shui...a guitar player in a Japanese power metal band.
Q. Full Metal Thunder is extremely underrated in my opinion. Can you explain what the song is about and were there any special circumstances that may have influenced this song?
A. That song is about...I mean that song and that entire album ep is basically a tribute to metal. A tribute to metal, to the music, to the attitude that people have when they play it and when they listen to it and the camaraderie of the fans and I wanted to make an EP...I mean all of the songs are about metal in one way or another. In fact three of the songs have the word "metal" in the title. And I wanted to just make an album that any fan of metal can put on and have a good time...that was my goal. And as far as circumstances I mean there was just certain elements that I wanted to include in the album. Especially in the title track, lyrical things and harmonized leads. Guitar things...ideas. I just wanted to take all of these metal ingredients and mix them together and that’s what came out.
Q. In 2009, you covered the muscle beach classic for bodybuilders.com. What did that do for your career as a bodybuilder and were you able to make any connections to help jumpstart your music career?
A. That’s a really good question...in fact I have never been asked that question before in an interview...excellent. That I mean I have been involved in bodybuilding for a very long time almost as long as music...not quite...but almost. At that time I was really really busy. I was working on one of my very first solo albums...I was competing in different body builder competitions...and I was getting into doing interviews related to bodybuilding. I have not continued that particular avenue so much as far as doing press and interviews...simply because my touring schedule has become so intense...its maybe something I can come back to in the future. I did however have a terrible and short lived girlfriend from that interview because I ended up interviewing another guy's girlfriend...I don’t think it showed up on the video but I interviewed this girl backstage and we dated for three months and it was absolutely terrible!!! So there we go.
Q. What was the very first guitar that you ever played? What brand do you play now and does anything significant about this brand define your style?
A. The first guitar I played I don’t even think it had a brand name. It was this terrible kind of a butchered strat copy imported from the moon or something like that. And it had a really bad electronic design on it you know it had the three single coil pickups like a strat does but to select the pickups each pickup had its own switch like an on or off switch...so to switch pickups you would have to turn one off and then turn another one on. It was the worst possible design...I mean whoever built it never played the guitar that was pretty obvious. I played that and it sort of got me started. But the second guitar I got I think was called an arbor wich is a copy of a Gibson flying v...and that played very good and decently. I went through a long series of guitars. And now, I'm not particular to any one brand it kind of depends on what style I want to play. In hellion...like now I'm on tour with hellion...I’m playing a pair of Jackson warriors. I do like Jacksons...I do like warriors because they are balanced and plus I love the way they look they look totally awesome. I also have some ESP guitars...sometimes I play them in my solo bands. I have an old Washburn...like the late eighties one with the 29 frets and a BC Rich Mockingbird. If it's a great shred guitar I will play it.
Q. On March 17th, the Ronnie James Duo Stand Up and Shout Cancer fund hosted its third awards ceremony in Hollywood, California. As one of the guests that night...explain how it felt to share the stage with the likes of Rob Halford, Lita Ford, Vinnie Appice, Jack Russell, and many others of metal's elite musicians and brethren?
A. Well, in all honesty...I myself did not share the stage with them. I mean I was attending there and it was great to see the performances because those are all top-notch musicians and they were performing at an event that they all cared deeply about so there was an investment that benefited the show. And the other great thing is to be able to rub elbows with those people. Sometimes you can talk a few words in passing and sometimes you get to sit down with these guys and get advice.
There was another great benefit show that I did play at...a little bit later Chris Broderick also performed at that show. And so I got to talk to him awhile. And I actually asked him some questions about how he stays in shape while on tour because he is definitely into fitness and that kind of thing and I think he actually liked the questions because he probably does not get those questions. It’s always great to talk to those guys and it is inspiring.
So I hope everyone learned some neat things about Maxxxwell Carlisle. Maxxxwell, thank you for this opportunity to get to know you up close and personal. Good luck on stage tonight as you perform with Hellion!!!