Max Pain & The Groovies

Max Pain & The Groovies recently hit the NYC scene, bringing a tornado of chaos and rebellion with them. Brought together by skateboarding and kept together by music, these guys have found the key to staying young at heart.

Officially comprised in 2010 of David Johnson (keys/vocals), Kallan Campbell (bass), Shane Preece (guitar), Tcoy Coughlin (drums), and Dallin Smith (guitar) in Salt Lake City, they recently moved into a cheap basement in Brownsville, Brooklyn to take on the NYC circuit—they’ve been bringing everything they’ve got since! These long-haired, rebellious, wild boys play music that pours out of the fountain of youth; anyone and everyone who listens gets reverted back to those carefree and angsty days of being young and wild.

The members have been longtime childhood friends and decided to start playing together when they were all around 18 and 19-years-old. “It was kind of a way to continue staying young and not having to grow up and keeping that same mentality,” Johnson tells BTRtoday. “Everybody gets scared and wants to grow up all of a sudden and quit bands—it makes me sad.”

Skateboarding has played a huge part for Max Pain & The Groovies—they would have never met if it wasn’t for their passion for skating. Johnson admits that the best compliment they ever received was after playing with North Carolina’s The Nude Party, the bassist came up to him and confessed that their music made him want to skateboard so badly! “I was like, ‘that’s the coolest thing anybody has ever said about our music,’” he reflects.

Article photos by Devon Bristol Shaw.

He and Campbell also explain that their songs have been featured in skate videos and snowboard videos. “To see like ‘oh this guy’s using one of our songs,’ that’s badass!” Johnson says. Recently, their music was used in a video on Thrasher for Denver’s 303 Boards.

Coughlin is even often recognized for his skills in skateboarding.

Ultimately, even though Johnson and Campbell confess to their music being used as a tool to keep hold of their youth, they just want to see their audience getting lost in their sound.

“Personally, I like to see when people close their eyes or dance around and just let go for a little bit and are willing to have a good time,” Campbell explains. “We’re kind of a ruckus [on stage] and that’s reflective of how we go about our lives of just having a good time and usually leaving a wake of empty beer bottles behind.”

Their music can be described as psychedelic garage rock and metal, with some definite remnants of classic rock stars like Pete Townshend of The Who, Nick Cave (more so during his Birthday Party era), or Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. They’re melodic and blood pumping, but still dark and mysterious.

Their most recent album “Ancient Grease,” released on Lollipop Records, definitely gives off those deep, dark, and mysterious vibes that make you wonder what could possibly being going on inside those brooding heads of Max Pain & The Groovies. Well, Johnson and Campbell confess to BTRtoday that in fact, most songs are just jokes about friends.

For example, the track “Don’t Shake My Busch,” though fast and furious and filled with catchy yet intimidating vocals, is actually based on a story about a friend who accidentally shook the bush a homeless man was sleeping in, but also because that friend tends to drink Busch beer.

Even their band name came from their guitarist, Preece, because his name is Shane and they would call him Max Pain, but due to a stroke of serendipity the video game “Max Payne” came out on Preece’s actual birthday. Though there’s no actual association, the name was destined for them.

In March they kick off a 30-date European tour. After the tour they plan on focusing once again on writing a new album.

Campbell recalls a memorable gig they played in New Hope, PA on one of their U.S. tours where they ended up jamming with Mickey Melchiondo, aka Dean Ween, of experimental rock group Ween.

They didn’t know when the gig was booked, but New Hope is the hometown of Ween, but that’s not all– they were also booked in the same venue that Ween is known for getting their start in. “The green room had pictures of them and we were like ‘whoa, no way!’” Campbell recounts. “We got to talking to the bartenders and they were like, ‘yeah, you’ll probably see one of them tonight!’” Low and behold, they met Mickey, who caught their set and enjoyed it so much that he ended up jamming with them after the sets. “Everyone in the bar came down and was just loving it—it was the best experience ever,” he adds.

Make sure to follow them on all their social media outlets (website, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp) to keep up-to-date on where they’re playing next and to be the first to get a hold on their new stuff. Also, make sure to check out “Ancient Grease,” being streamed along with an interview on BTRtoday’s The Music Meetup.