Operation Offbeat – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
Max: A broke artist! …who would have guessed- surely not all the other Ska guitar players in their luxury mansions…
I am a fan in the first place. I love Reggae and Rock and Roll music, and I play so that my mental cinema would picture me a sold out Wembley arena, when for real we’re playing to four people (one who’d passed out) in a pub. I enjoy the roadtrips; the excitement, when the band does a new song, hits the stage or the studio. I think I am still an enthusiastic Rock’n’Roll kid on the inside, and I want to put that kind of spirit into honest work.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Max: I spent a few years gigging up and down Germany with my then-band The Crooners, until roughly 2015. We sometimes had a few fans from the UK over, who’d use easyjet and the like to pop over for Ska shows, and I made friends with one or two of them… So The Crooners got the odd gig request from the UK, but we never managed to make it. Which upset me so much, that I started an online thing that I called the „London-Hamburg-Ska-Connection“, trying to find like minded musos in London, for doing exchange gigs and possibly a London horn sec for The Crooners… The response was larger than expected, and a whole band came about, which we later renamed Operation Offbeat, after a gig that was so bad that I felt like a new start. Operation Offbeat gigged the London area and sometimes in Germany during the following years, with me commuting from Hamburg and couchsurfing. At some point Ville and The Animal Farm dragged us in the studio- and here we are, primarily online at the moment due to the plague… Waiting for gigs to return in manic pigheadedness…
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Max: I’d have to mention The Specials, The Toasters and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones for the obvious reasons- but, in honesty, I don’t listen to THAT much Ska when I’m home (I mean; who would sit down on the couch with a good read and crank up Bad Manners…). Bruce Springsteen is one of my heroes, those live shows are always going to be the benchmark in the game… Also Shane MacGowan and how he could sing right from his heart, and I love Brian Johnsosn on stage, radiating the pure joy and energy as he does! …from outside my musical mini-universe I’d say comedien Rich Hall is someone I could relate to; always upset with everything, but also willing to make fun of everything.
Greta Thunberg for an ability to take blows that I wish for myself, and -right from the news- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ optimism and willingness to work on a future without the planet blowing up (…no premature praise here though, but fingers crossed!) Last not least I admire Johnny Cashs standing power.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
Max: A gig in New York! And once we do, I’d want to make it a classic, dynamic, emotional, diverse show. I want to see couples hugging when ‚their‘ special tune comes up as well as a pit in a sprinkle of teeth!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
Max: Yours truly! Big words about small things are my business. I do try and write from the top of my head, but once i halfway know what I want to say, I try and squeeze out the last bit of optimism, even when running something down. The first song I ever wrote that was unironically meant to cheer someone up was „Fire“, and some other time it might be fun to just paint an absurd picture like in „Heavy metal is the law“. And then the usual stuff, breakups, drinking, the world ending soon, something we all can relate to.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
Max: Every one of our past attempts towards some sort of an overbred rockstar attitude didn’t work out. Mostly miserably. But since we moved to plainly and simply showing what we do and how we are, online promo is much more easier and funnier… I’m even considering a video about my skin care routine (that is once I have any).
We also do the odd video, which you can find on our channel
And regarding everything else, you’ll get the small (present) and the big (future) news here:
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
Max: I’ve never made a living on music, hence always prioritized attention over money. But: I sometimes think people would forget the live experience over the accessability of free music everywhere. It might be up for discussion whether some musicians earnings in the past have always been proportional with the amount of work they did. Which is true for only a vanishingly small amount of artists compared to the rest, nonetheless it’s the steroetype. I just find it sad, when by releasing music you wouldn’t even gain enough revenue to go on tour. Let alone the love and money that usually goes into an album production, that’s what you really want from it- to go out and meet the people. So downloads are fine, but a fairer money distribution and sometimes a tad more willingness to pay for a product you enjoy would be productive.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Max: The german national anthem. Then it would rather sound like the Benny Hill theme, with lyrics about invading other countries and getting your ass kicked for it. The chorus would be a complaint about my neighbours car parking too close to my lawn.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
Max: Musicians! Seriously, they’re annoying. ‚I got to eat‘, ‚Need to pay the rent‘, ‚Can we do a cover song‘, they go like that all day. But then they are my friends, and I don’t have that many friends (why though?!).
What I also don’t like is my 200km commute for rehearsing, but I still travel Hannover-Hamburg to do it. They didn’t want me in any band in Hannover. Smart of them. Which actually makes Hannover some sort of a pet peeve, but that would be the understatement of the year.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
Max: One of our last gigs was in support of Roddy Radiation, and when we got off stage, he hed waited backstage, waved me over and gave me a hug, that was great.
Also when we’ve done a gig in Berlin many years ago, I’ve spotted a guy in a wheelchair being punched in the face (tell me about posh venues), stopped it, handed out 2-3 free beers and carried on, which felt like a small victory… My current moment of pride and joy was actually the release of „Your idea of luck“, as banging that damn thing out has been a bizarre nightmare every now and then, over almost two years. Long story. A story of the past also; and what remains is, as I must say, a pretty nice album.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
Max: We’ve got 12 new songs finished in writing, so we plan on releasing a new album in spring 2021- hopefully along with live shows! Also; a video for „Cross the line“ ist in the making.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
Max: May I recommend our new album „Your idea of luck“ on spotify:
Hopefully soon, our first album „Prologue“ will be back on Spotify too, it’s been taken of due to… Well… Stupidity my end.
Operation Offbeat links:
Band/Artist location – Hamburg Germany / London England
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