Posted On 09 Aug 2018
Get to know the acoustic blues/americana duo, Max Caddy! On June 1st, they released their newest EP, “Straight to the Face.” Their single “Hear Me Out” was put out ahead of the collection.
Comprised of singer Corina Corina and guitarist Jesse O’Neill, both have had bustling solo careers. “Hear Me Out” features Liquor Radio‘s Coralie Colmez on fiddle and session drummer extraordinaire Alex Cohen. The recorded guest instrumentation is a first for Max Caddy as it strives to recapture its collaborative live sound. LISTEN TO “HEAR ME OUT” Here.
Learn more about Max Caddy in the following All Access interview:
So how has 2018 been treating you all? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year and how close are you to reaching it?
CC- It’s been busy! Many many wonderful things happening that have involved a lot of careful planning and focus. We have such a great time creating and playing music together, it has been so awesome to finally release another project.
The goal was to release this EP. Now we just need for people to hear it and keep on listening!
JO: 2018 has been pretty good so far. Max Caddy dropped an EP and has a summer residency at the Sidewalk Cafe. It’s an exciting opportunity to introduce more people to our music.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together?
CC: As most people know, we met when I was bartending and Jesse was one of my regulars. I was working on my first solo album at the time but trying to manifest a side project where I could sing acoustic blues music and in walked Jesse. We jammed once and it was an instant pairing. I don’t think we talked about it as much as we just knew this was a thing.
JO: Haha, do most people know that? Yeah there wasn’t much deep soul searching or contemplating, it just kind of came together and progressed naturally.
Has anything surprised you about it all so far?
CC: I think it’s just dope that despite all the time we’ve spent apart and all the things we do individually that we’re still invested and totally devoted to Max Caddy, it’s great!
JO: I’m pleasantly surprised that after all more than six years after we started making music, we were able to pick up right where we left off and continue to grow after a long (geographically forced) hiatus. It’s not even really a surprise, it’s a testament to our chemistry together and our need to create and develop this project.
How difficult was it to come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
CC: whatever else we were considering was probably really corny haha. Once we had the name we knew it was the name, it’s a fuckin great one.
How do you think your hometown NYC has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If you don’t think that it has, why is that?
JO: Well in my younger days I played in a variety of groups that needed lots of equipment to rock. I played electric guitar in rock and blues bands throughout middle school and high school and college and also played drums in a punk band after college. When I moved from Albany to New York in 2006, I sold my car and my musical career kind of dried up, partially because it was just not logistically attractive or economically feasible to lug around my gear to practice and to shows. Gradually to solve this problem I gravitated back to my first love — the acoustic guitar. I taught myself how to play on my father’s acoustic guitar when I was 12 and grew up listening to a lot of acoustic music and learning punk and rock songs on it by default because that’s what was available to me. So I defiantly played acoustic guitar with a much more aggressive approach than the typical folkie. I was trying to summon Jimi Hendrix on that thing. Badly. But when I got to the city I had developed my playing to the extent where it was fun to return to the acoustic guitar because I could easily just carry it on the train or walk it over to a park to jam with other musicians or play at a a cafe or open mic. I grew to love the simplicity of that, and understand that louder isn’t better.
I was neck deep in this new mindset when Max Caddy took off, and applied that simplicity to our band and haven’t looked back yet. I did briefly live in an apartment with a studio on the roof. It was awesome to be able to go crank up the electric guitar in there and bang on the drums. But the logistics of doing that professionally in Manhattan were still daunting. I have a 120 lb Twin Reverb that I pretty much only transport when I move. And I have not owned a vehicle in 12 years. So New York — you did it. You unplugged me. Don’t get it wrong, I am still available to turn that shit up to 11 and tear it up when the mood strikes however.
How would you say that Max Caddy has grown since you first formed in 2012?
CC: I’d say we’re a lot more focused on the overall package- marketing, presentation, etc. but more than anything, jesse and i have been through A LOT individually. Lots of life changes in the past 6 years which has made us both better songwriters and overall just stronger people. We’re also just really really close friends and our chemistry is tighter than ever.
Let’s talk about your newest single “Hear Me Out.” What was the inspiration for it? How did you choose it to be the first track released from your new EP “Straight to the Face”?
JO: I wrote that tune after band practice one day in just a few minutes as a message of encouragement to Max Caddy, and it’s not every day I’m inspired to write such truly happy unironic fare. I think the positive energy behind the composition was captured really well in the studio, in no small part due to the additions of Coralie Colmez on fiddle and Alex Cohen on drums. And it’s catchy! It’s definitely our most radio friendly pop tune.
Besides “Hear Me Out,” what are some other songs on this collection that you particularly proud of and excited for people to hear?
CC: We have a pretty large arsenal of songs we do based on the huge amount of shows we’ve played. We carefully selected 5 songs (4 originals, one cover) to give a snapshot of all our strengths as a duo so they all stand out in their own way. We love all of them for different reasons.
JO: ‘Who You Are To Me’ is a fun back and forth shuffle number that really plays to both of our blues strengths. ‘Show Yourself’ is a nod to my low budget indie rock roots. ‘That Empty Chair’ is gut wrenching Corina jazz singing at its saddest and best. And I hope we brought something new to one of my favorite Beatles songs ‘Things We Said Today.’ It’s a pretty arrangement and in my humble opinion it’s much more in the spirit of that song than any other cover I’ve heard. So, you’re welcome Paul McCartney. I know you’ve been waiting for someone to do it justice. Haha.
How does the music of Max Caddy compare to both of your solo projects?
CC: Max Caddy is pretty damn different than Corina Corina which is why I do both! Corina Corina is my primary project, I’ve released two albums (soon to be three!) and toured many times. It’s alternative r&b with a lot of hip hop and electronic/industrial influence. My songs are for the most part, pretty dark and angst and all deeply personal. Max Caddy is where I go to express the part of me that grew up playing blues music with my pops on guitar and when I want to be a little softer with my sound. I really love how stripped down and exposed my vocals are in Max Caddy and it’s also so much fun to play with someone else. As different as the two projects are, I am really grateful that Jesse and I still collaborate on everything, we’re both just fans of good music in general and for that reason we’re both versatile enough to do many styles.
JO: I feel like Max Caddy pulls me out of my head because I’m trying to impress Corina and make it more accessible. With my solo projects, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in my own head.
What did it feel like coming together as a duo after having being a solo musician?
CC: Max Caddy has just unfolded so differently than Corina Corina that it’s not even comparable. It’s a completely different genre and terrain. In my solo career I make every decision, finance everything, etc. with MC I get to create and play music with my friend and we have equal stake. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other they’re just…incomparable. It is definitely hard to juggle both though!
JO: I was in Max Caddy before I put out my solo projects. And I must admit that being in the band actually gave me the confidence to do that. I was always in bands before, and even as the front-man I was just a piece of a big puzzle. But being so stripped down gave me the confidence to realize that I can sing a little, and I have something to say using just my own voice.
Can you talk about some of the solo projects that you two are working on right now?
CC: My third album, Hangover Music has been done for awhile now. I’m shopping it to labels and have released one video so far, I have a second one due this summer!
I’m also in the very early stages of working on a (mostly) hip hop project with a friend of mine. It’s raw and angry as fuck. I’m excited to show more of that side of myself as an artist, I have a lot to say 😉
JO: I’ve been writing very dark weird songs and trying them out at this great open mic every week near my apartment to see the reaction. They are dark and dirty and murderous.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
CC: On stage, no question. We do have a great time practicing too though!
JO: I love performing but am growing more comfortable in the studio crafting the voices in my head into something digestible. I’d like to do a lot more of that.
Do you have any upcoming tour dates this summer that you would like to tell our readers about?
CC: we’ll be doing a monthly residency every first Friday of the summer at Sidewalk Cafe in New York’s East Village.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
CC: for me it’s just been going back to my roots of playing blues with a guitar. Jesse and I do whatever covers we feel like and reinventing them is a lot of fun. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s really just playing great music with my friend and pushing each other to be better musicians.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
CC: I think this time in history is giving people incredible fuel for creating great art of all mediums. For me personally, I put a lot of that fuel into my solo work from a very personal lens of being a queer woman and all the other inter sectional identities I carry. Although Max Caddy isn’t an intentionally political band, Jesse and I are both active and informed and have a lot of strong opinions about what’s happening out there and it naturally seeps into our writing and will continue to move in that direction. With that being said, I also think it’s important to be great entertainers. Not everything has to be politically charged all the time, creativity and joy are healing!
JO: After the elections I did have a thought that ‘ well hey maybe at least music will get better.’ I felt like after Bush was reelected in 2004, music did get better, particularly rock music. I don’t want to compare now to then. We are not at war or anything and Manhattan has not been massacred. That was surely the darkest period of any of our lifetimes. But I think the surealness of this political period has had an influence on music in general. I’ve played around with addressing it in various tunes I’ve written that have yet to be released.
How important do you think social media has been to this band? Do all you help to maintain all your sites or is one of you more into it all? Or do you rely on your PR/management team to handle it?
CC: ugh social media! We’ve never hired anyone to handle our social media, I mostly take care of it based on what I’ve learned from all the experience I have in my solo career.
Social media has an equal amount of pros and cons. It enables us to directly communicate with our audience without any gatekeepers in the way so that’s cool but it’s also really hard to keep up with and time consuming and distracting. I also think it’s created a whole culture of short attention spans so it’s harder than ever to get people to actually sit and pay attention, even with a project that’s only 15 minutes long!
JO: I basically do whatever Corina says. I am not very adept at using it and am a bit of laggard, but I guess that’s the way the world works now. It is however pretty cool to be able to connect with people all over the world instantly and share music.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group?
CC: So many people! One of my living musical heroes is D’Angelo, who we covered on our first EP, Caddy Tracks. I’m also obsessed with Fleetwood Mac so being in the presence of any of them in any capacity would be a dream! Dream producer for us is Rick Ruben for sure, Dan Auerbach is also dope as a producer. I always thought it would be really dope to have a contemporary soul project produced by by Isaac Hayes but it’s obviously too late for that now 🙁
I’m really into Hurray For the Riff Raff as far as modern folk goes. I’d love to tour with them or work with their producer, that would be dope! And Connor Youngblood is a young artist from Texas doing really cool soulful singer-songwriter shit. Other than that I listen to a lot of hip hop and alt r&b haha.
If you guys were all going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you want to take with you and why?
CC: i have the advantage of not having to carry an instrument around but maybe I’d finally learn how to play guitar or bass with all my free time on the island! But a record player with lots of records would definitely be essential. And a piano!
JO: Maybe a high pitched whistle? Would that be the best way of summoning help? My trusty Martin D-15 would be the second option of course.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
CC: the message is that acoustic music can be exciting, versatile and have a lot of bite to it. We’re not your typical sad boy coffee shop music, we’re city kids with a lot of influence between us and we’re not afraid of taking musical risks and creating a sound of our own. Cool teenagers can listen to us with their grandparents and you can listen to MC under and circumstances!
Where can our readers connect with this group?
We’re @maxcaddymusic on all social media. Reach out!
(All Photography Provided By Effective Immediately PR)