The Whipping Post presents...
Torman Maxt Interview - Added 01/06/02
Read along on as I interview Tony Massaro of the progressive metal band Torman Maxt (left on above picture). This has been one of my favorite interviews yet and, I think, a very interesting read.
Whipping Post: Even though you guys have been around for quite some time there are many out there who are unfamilar with your band. Could you give us run-down on the history of Torman Maxt?
Tony Massaro: All three of us in the band are brothers, so I guess I've known them all my life!!! Vinny and Dominic are older than I am and started playing their instruments as teenagers, a few years before I picked up the guitar. They played in cover bands doing Kiss, Scorpions, Motley Crue, etc. songs for a while. I was never good enough as a guitar player early on to learn covers or do solos, so out of frustration I began writing my own songs. I made a
few rough 4 track recordings and played them to my brothers and convinced them to make a demo with me. After that, we were all hooked on doing original music. We worked with various singers over the years doing quite a few demos, and did our first album with Martin Debourge (who is no longer with the band). After a long time of frustration trying to get him to put the kind of effort we wanted into our project, we mutually decided it was time for him to leave the band. I have been writing vocal melodies to my songs since the beginning of Torman Maxt; in fact, I wrote all of the vocal parts on our first CD, so I thought it was worth taking some voice training and trying to sing on our second CD. So now its just the three of us brothers.
WP: You guys have had a long period of time in-between albums. What were the reasons for this long delay?
Tony: The long delay between the albums can be attributed to a couple of things. First, we worked for over two years trying to get Martin to learn the songs and lay down the tracks. After we realized he was unable to put the effort required, I decided to do the vocals. Although I had written vocals for many years, I never actually tried to record them. So it took quite a while of vocal training to bring them up to a level of quality that we felt comfortable with. I took all of 1997 to sing the album then ended up re-singing them again a year later. The second factor was our decision to record the CD ourselves. I bough a computer and software and basically learned from scratch. So there was quite the learning curve. Finally, because we were incurring no studio costs, I was able to keep redoing and refining things to a point of satisfaction (or actually a point of driving myself nuts with perfectionist expectations). I think anyone who has
experienced unlimited studio time can relate to that.
WP: Your first album was "Just Talking About the Universe...So Far". How did that album do as far as sales and response from fans?
Tony: Just Talking About the Universe was received quite well for the few people who actually got a chance to hear it. We sold about 3500 units without any kind of distribution. Not being picked up by any kind of distributor or label kept our visibility low. This was all before the internet, however!!! I have lots of letters of people who really like the CD. It is positive feedback and people who are impacted by the music, and not sales or money, that makes doing music and putting out CD's worthwhile.
WP: I'm very impressed with the job you guys have done on your new album "The Foolishness of God". Are you satisfied with the outcome of the album?
Tony: We are very satisfied with the outcome of the new CD. It is everything we wanted it to be both musically and lyrically. I know it is cliche, but I can honestly say, we did the absolute best we could. It took over two years to mix, but the last 5% of refining the songs made all of the difference in the world. We were not able to do that on the first CD.
WP: "The Foolishness of God" is a great title for the album that catches people's attention. What brought about the title and the theme of the album?
Tony: I used to attend bible studies with Walter Martin of the Christian Research Institute before he died. He had a cassette entitled "The Foolishness of God". The phrase is taken directly out of the bible in 1Corinthians. As a
Christian, I had never really written a song directly about the person of Jesus Christ. So I felt this would be an interesting approach to writing a song about Christ; using the concept of how God works seems like foolishness to people (Noah's Ark, Moses parting the Red Sea, etc.) and presenting Christ as the biggest foolishness or stumbling block to people. The song sort of follows the outline of Dr. Martin's sermon. Also, I just felt it was an interesting and eye catching title! The art on the album cover tries to juxtapose the crucified and resurrected Christ, which is the greatest event in all history, with human technology and human achievement.
WP: You guys did a terrific job lyrically on the new record (my favorite being "Silence Isn't Golden"). How important are good lyrics to the band?
Tony: The lyrics are the most important part of the CD. Writing music that is worthy of the creator is our highest goal. When we get reviews, the most rewarding thing to read is how people received the lyrical concepts and
that they know that we are Christians presenting Christ in a way that is honest, well thought out, and interesting.
WP: Where can fans pick up your new album? Will it be available in any stores or from mail order companies?
Tony: We are doing are best to get the CD out to as many distributors as possible. Because the disc is only a month old, we haven't really gotten it into many hands yet. There are a handful of on-line shops where they can get the disc. Or, they can go to our web site www.tormanmaxt.com and order it from us directly.
WP: What kind of musical background do you guys have? How long have you been playing?
Tony: Our web site lists all of our musical influences. They range from pure metal to progressive. We have been playing since we were teenagers. I studied music theory and counterpoint in college, not extensively, but enough to know the concepts and effectively use them as tools to create music.
WP: Your website says that your third album is already written. Will the direction of the next album be similar to "The Foolishness of God" or will we see a lot of changes?
Tony: The next album should be stylistically the same?I think. When we sit down to write, we just play what comes out and we don't try to aim at a style. The only real difference is, because it is a concept/rock opera it will
take on a much more prog feeling arrangement wise. But the vocal overlays, and multiple guitar parts will remain.
WP: What other bands are influences on the music the band makes? What bands do you guys enjoy listening to?
Tony: This may sound strange, but I don't buy much new music or listen to music nearly as much as I used to. (Maybe that's just a sign of getting old). I constantly revisit our early influences to rediscover new things about
them. Dominic is really into Radio Head. I still love listening to King's X, although their lyrics don't inspire me the way they used to. Vinny is into Tool right now. I think the new Divine in Sight CD is terrific.
WP: What do you guys feel is the purpose for Torman Maxt?
Tony: I'll start by telling you what I think the purpose of Torman Maxt is not: It is not to be famous or rich or be on MTV. I think the purpose of Torman Maxt is to write interesting and creative music, worthy of our creator, with lyrics that deal with Christian concepts centering around the person of Jesus Christ.
WP: Who do you say that Jesus Christ is?
Tony: We are in agreement that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the second person of the trinity and that there is no other name given to men, under heaven, whereby we must be saved.
WP: What do you guys do in your spare time outside the band?
Tony: We all work day jobs, and are active at our church in Costa Mesa. We all play in the worship band (which really rocks, I might add). I have a son with a daughter on the way and parenthood can be quite time consuming.
WP: According to your Bio on your website you a big fan of King's X (I love them too!). Which album of their's do you like the best and why?
Tony: I am a huge King's X fan. I think their sound is so original. I must say I miss Ty's vocals on the new CD, however. I would have to say it is a toss up between King's X (the fourth album) and Faith Hope Love. My two
all time favorite King's X songs are "Fool You" from Dogman and "Picture" from Ear Candy.
WP: Any final comments?
Tony: My final comment would be thanks to you for this great opportunity to do this interview and for your support of Torman Maxt.