What We Are

If this is your first time at Max and the Marginalized, consider this an introduction. We know we have a lot of songs and this is a good place to start.

Welcome to Max and the Marginalized’s page/blog, etc. We are a political band in Los Angeles. We write and record a new song every week (as of this writing we’ve been doing this for 43 weeks straight), always about something that week which we find worthy of our protestations.

We hope you like our little (sort of) punk rock op-eds. Enjoy!

All of our songs appear on The Huffington Post with little blogs accompanying them explaining what they are about. Those can be found right here. We are also on MySpace like every other band in the universe, but are trying to move the operation to the non-Murdoch world at our Facebook Page.

Lineup: Max Bernstein – guitar + vocals. Dave Watrous – Bass. Jon Ryggy – Drums. Our friend Max Waker is a recording engineer and makes cartoons.

Some songs to listen to:

Museum of Mistakes
(A song envisioning Guantanamo as a museum 25 years from now)

Free Evenings and Weekends
(Verizon, AT+T, et al were all complicit in the President’s illegal wiretapping program, and many in congress are trying to give them immunity from punishment for their crimes. We don’t think they should get it.)

When the Dog That Keeps On Eating Things Throws Up
(A song written and recorded in November about how the evidence that the Bushies sanctioned torture would eventually surface and that they should be prosecuted for it when it does. Since we recorded it, the first half has come true. We’re waiting on the second…)

Weeknights at Six

(Lou Dobbs, for reasons I don’t understand, gets to go on television for an hour every night and rant about getting illegal immigrants out of this country. He’s responsible for a new kind of populist hate-speech which is considered acceptable because CNN sanctions it. We think he’s a xenophobic gasbag and should be dragged by the jowls out of the newsroom.)

Consider the Source
(John McCain accused Arianna Huffington, someone whose credibility it not in question and is also our pal, of lying when she said that he confided to her that he didn’t vote or Bush in 2000 after his campaign defeated him with rumors that he had fathered a black child. When asked about her statement, he said “Consider the source”, but he’s the one with the credibility problem.)

Here Come the Incidents
(Our dub reggae adventure written and recorded the day after the Bush administration tried to pass off a minor incident between Iranian speedboats and a US Navy ship as some kind of serious act of aggression.)

Fancypants press release thingy:

There was a time when rock and punk were seriously considered to be viable forms of social and political mobilization, and I think that’s really gone,” observes Max Bernstein, founder and singer-guitarist of MAX AND THE MARGINALIZED. “Even the bands that are considered political often write songs that are very vague, because they’re afraid that they’ll be out of date by the time their album gets through all the major-label red tape. It all but guarantees their music will be too vague to be relevant.”

Many have noticed how disappointingly silent the new generation of popular music makers has been about today’s realities – war, recession, the destruction of civil liberties and the environment being just a few at the top of the list. Aside from the Dixie Chicks, whose career was transformed by a concerted right-wing attack following one offhanded statement on the concert stage, such examples of politically committed music-making as Steve Earle’s album (and radio show) The Revolution Starts Now, Green Day’s American Idiot, and Pink’s album track “Dear Mr. President” have been so rare as to be newsworthy as soon as they appeared on the market.

Max and the Marginalized (Bernstein, Dave Watrous and Jon Ryggy) identify themselves as a political band with a uniquely 21st-century mission: They have, since October 2007, and every week since then, written a new song about a current issue or event, recorded it and released it as soon as completed on Thursday afternoon via their MySpace page, and the popular news/opinion blog site The Huffington Post. So far, they’ve done this for 33 weeks straight.

It may be looked upon as a simple idea — a regular op-ed column as a rock band. But Max and the Marginalized are dedicated to the heavy lifting of documenting the truth of our time — and working in a form popular enough to withstand the revisionism of time and the right-wing think-tank propagandists who have hijacked and cherry-picked history itself to make the political points of today and tomorrow’s election cycles.

It’s the here-and-now immediacy of the need that has been the driving force behind the band’s adaptation of the technology that has been so powerful in the development of a politically and socially effective progressive community on line. “We’re about specifics and urgency,” says Bernstein. “How can we make songs about getting the Republicans out of the White House for an album that wouldn’t be released until after the election?”

Accordingly, the songs of Max and the Marginalized are fired-up pieces of passionate, immediate commentary, capturing the brand-new, illuminating spark of righteous reaction every week, in song and occasionally in video form: “Lectures for the Dying” addresses federally funded abstinence-only education programs in Africa; “Free Evenings and Weekends,” a slice of mod-punk, comments on the little-noticed fight over immunity for telecom companies complicit in illegal wiretapping; and “Black and White and Red All Over,” a fast blast of ’88-style hardcore, points out the rightward shift of The New York Times op-ed page.

These songs join the decades-long list of topical classics by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves,” The Clash’s Eddy Grant cover, “Police on My Back,” and The Special AKA’s “Nelson Mandela” (other favorite examples) among the socially-conscious and politically-defining songbook of the world’s youth culture – formerly disseminated through the radio station, dance club, political rally or rock concert, and now speeding through the blogosphere.

Max Bernstein, the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind Max and the Marginalized, is the son of the journalist Carl Bernstein — who, with Bob Woodward, exposed the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon — and the author and film director Nora Ephron. Bernstein’s plan for the group arose from the dissatisfactions of touring with three-year-old songs in his previous major-label band, The Actual. Following a tour opening for Velvet Revolver and a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, Bernstein broke up The Actual, leaving behind the band’s record deal, becoming “determined never to be in a band that existed only for the purpose of rocking out.” Max and the Marginalized was formed seven months ago with Dave Watrous on bass and Jon Ryggy on drums, and since then, the band has toured the U.S. twice, and released 33 new songs.

Whether you look at their music as a cool drink of water in a parched musical landscape, or a desperately-awaited bucket brigade arriving at a house on fire, Max and the Marginalized are a powerful truth serum injected into the on-line bloodstream.

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6 Responses

  1. Howdy!

    Like the new digs, my friend. I’m a WordPress user/fan.

    Will change my links at the blog.

  2. So okay, just listened to “Weeknights at 6” and gotta say there’s a lot of biting social commentary out there.

    And there’s a lot of really good songs.

    You managed both. “Weeknights” is just a damn fine song.

  3. Thanks Flip!

  4. I really appreciate your political/activist music, which is sorely needed these days as most people seem incredibly apathetic to the atrocities that are going on these days.

    I am a rabblerouser/whistleblower and have been trying my very best to expose a big ongoing scandal that involves (at least) four senior officials in the Bush Administration, including the current and previous Transportation Secretaries. In a nutshell, these individuals colluded to create a federal monopoly for a company in which some of them very likely had a substantial hidden financial interest. (It’s another example of the old adage, “follow the money.”)

    I’ve provided intricate details about this scandal to all the appropriate authorities (FBI, SEC, etc.) but so far they have all just swept it under the rug. Getting the Executive Branch to fully investigate a scandal in its own ranks is almost impossible in any Administration, but even more so in this one that has no moral compass whatsoever.

    I’d like to suggest a new song for you, with a title that’s a takeoff of the old Roman saying “Who Will Guard the Guards.” I’d be more than happy to work with you on the lyrics, based on this scandal.

    Again, great job — keep it up.

    Jerry

    P.S. By the way, I’ve been to Uganda and know exactly what you mean about the ridiculousness of the abstinence approach to “fighting AIDS” that’s been taken by this Administration. Since that campaign started, the rate of AIDS infection in Uganda has steadily increased after being on a decline for several years. It’s a real tragedy, and thanks for exposing it.

  5. Fell upon your tune “One of the regulars” on the Huff and fell out! Incredible use of lyrics and structure. Had to download and had to contribute.
    You got the music in you!

  6. A pleasure to hear the band in Cincinnati – the songs and the sound. Thanks for playing and thank you for the CD; excellent lagniappe, as New Orleanians say.
    In the mood of the music and the evening, I drew a sketch on the back of a paper plate. I want to send you guys the image as a gift – but I can’t find an e-mail address anywhere. Will you send an e-mail so I can return a jpeg?

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