Cut Worms' latest release is so much from past and present.Photo by Joyce Lee
Max Clarke of Cut Worms has been writing songs since the age of 12, and it's obvious that his music has grown leaps and bounds since then.
"I don't know what those songs were about, I was just trying to write pop songs. Discovering different styles and imitating what those were. The things I was writing came at some point, from reading what others had said. It became apparent that you had to write tons of bad songs to get to the good ones," remarks the singer and songwriter.
The singer and guitarist has become known for his illustrations and graphic work as well, though songwriting had a pull that artwork didn't. "I still do illustrating and graphic design, songwriting was something that I knew how to do for long periods of time. My eyes start to hurt from lots of drawing, and I don't get that from songwriting," he says.
Over the years, Clarke has had his music compared to some pretty hefty names, including Bob Dylan and the Everly Brothers, though it could be said that his music is closer to the works of Donovan and Leonard Cohen. "I mean, the people I go back to are (Bob) Dylan, The Beatles, (Leonard) Cohen and Patti Smith. At some point, learning about all of these artists over the years, you can tell what continues to be good and what you lose interest in quickly. The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan, there's something there that doesn't die."
The debut E.P. from Cut Worms, Alien Sunset had a real throwback sound, almost as if it were recorded in another time with vintage tape machines on vintage gear. "I always say that I wasn't trying to make it sound old, but just make the music that I'd like to hear that would have come from that era. I'm more into the songs than the methods used to record them. When people ask me about a particular sound, it's the content I'd rather discuss than the approach."
On his latest release, last year's beautifully crafted Hollow Ground, Clarke and company evoke a bit of the past while employing a more produced sound with Jonathan Rado of Foxygen behind the console. "I was introduced to John by the label. There was a period, where a lot of my stuff was sent to other people through my management, which was cool. But working with John was great and it was a lot of fun making the record."
The album's lyrics, have the grit and depth of a seasoned storyteller who's lived an involved life. "I still see myself as young and naive. I don't see myself as worldly, but I've taken in more than I could out of situations most of the time. Artistic content for me comes from film or books and music over experiences. I'm just looking for the tapes of stories that inspire me."
You can purchase Hollow Ground directly from Jagjaguwar Records or directly from their Bandcamp page. You can also stream the album on all platforms as well. You can see Cut Worms live and in person, when they provide support for Lord Huron at Revention Music Center on September 27. The all ages show has doors at 7 p.m.; tickets $31.
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