Max Restaino, singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Donny Osmond and Gary Barlow, being taught to play the saxophone by Larry Van Kriedt original bassist with AC/DC, touring with Rebecca Ferguson and the release of his debut album The Time It Takes
Max Restaino is a singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist from Sheffield. The instruments that he plays include guitar, piano, harmonica, ukulele, saxophone and accordion.
He has supported such acts as The Vamps and Alisha Dixon and has also played accordion in the studio for Donny Osmond and Gary Barlow.
Having released his latest single, Give Me All Your Loving, his debut album, The Time It Takes was released in October of this year.
Taking time out from a tour of the UK in which he is supporting Rebecca Ferguson, he had a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Max how are you?
Hi Kevin, I’m good thanks how are you today?
I’m very well thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
That’s fine, it my pleasure.
And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?
Life at the moment is pretty good. I’m currently getting ready for the next set of gigs on the tour with Rebecca Ferguson. So all is good (Laughter).
You played The Palladium on Tuesday night. How was that?
That was actually a really good gig; everything went to plan and it was all good.
I recently read that you are described as being a twenty year old singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist record producer from Sheffield. Would you say that describes you correctly?
(Laughter) I know that it sounds a lot but yes, that describes perfectly what I am currently up to.
You mention being a multi-instrumentalist, I have seen you playing the accordion and the saxophone what else is there in your locker?
Well let me see (laughter). I also play the piano, guitar, a little bit of harmonica and also the ukulele.
So really you don’t need the band and you could do away with them as soon as possible (laughter).
It’s funny that you should say that because I have always said that if I could clone myself then I would be in a position to save a lot of money (laughter).
On the subject of the band, why don’t you name-check the guys in the band for me?
Right here goes (laughter). On drums we have Lawrence Giles who is a twenty-four year old professional musician and educator. Lawrence has now been playing the drums for twelve years. We first met when we were both playing gigs at The Cavern Club up in Liverpool. On the bass we have James Armstrong and the guitarist is Adey Thompson.
I have to say that you sound really good. It is a nice tightknit unit.
I have to agree with you on that. We have now been living together on a tour bus for the past few weeks which means that you get to know each other quite well (laughter).
You recently released your first album, The Time It Takes; were you happy with how well it was received?
Yes I am very happy. Lots of people have been buying it after each gig which is totally amazing. For me the best thing about people buying the album is that after all of the hard work that I put into writing, recording and producing it, people are actually now going home and listening to it. For me as a writer that really is a great feeling.
And were you pleased with the album or were there parts that you thought you could have done a little better?
The title of the album, The Time It Takes was quite ironic in a way because if I had had more time then yes I would have changed a few things and done things differently. But overall considering the time that I had, I am really happy with it.
Lots of artists who I speak to tell me that they find it really difficult to actually leave the album alone once it is finish. They all say that they are tempted to go back and tweak certain parts. Did you ever get that urge?
(Laughter) yes I did, but I had to simply step back and accept that the album was finished. I just had to keep telling myself that was it and I simply couldn’t go back anymore (laughter).
The song that I really do like off the album is Give Me All Your Loving. What was the rationale behind that song?
That was one of the first songs that I wrote specifically for the album. There are a few on there that I wrote years ago but that one was the first one where I thought that I would try to write a modern contemporary dance pop song and that was my first attempt at doing that. I have to say that for me, that was the learning curve song.
On the subject of your writing what comes first, the melody or the words?
For me it is always the melody that comes first. I always leave the lyrics until the very last moment (laughter).
(Laughter) so you try to shoehorn the lyrics onto the melody to see if they will fit?
Yes I do, I really do (laughter).
Are you always writing?
Yes I am, and at this moment in time I have got at least five hundred different recordings on my mobile phone. I am always waking up in the middle of the night recording something (laughter).
In that case you won’t be stuck for album two then?
I certainly hope not (laughter). I have got loads of different things when it comes to album number two.
Was it always going to be a career in music for you?
Yes, because I don’t think that I could ever see myself doing anything else really. Ever since I was six years old I have always been playing so I have always seen myself as wanting to be a musician, I suppose (laughter).
There have been comparisons made between you and Olly Murs. Does that bother or upset you at all?
No, not at all. Who wouldn’t like being compared to Olly Murs. Everyone does seem to say it so there must be an element of truth in there somewhere (laughter).
There are far worse people to be compared with.
Yes I guess so (laughter).
You have worked with both Gary Barlow and Donny Osmond, how was that?
They were both great experiences for me. Donny was recording a live session in the studio and they were looking for an accordion player and I just so happened to be there at the time (laughter). So not only did I get to play on the live session I also got to be in the video which was quite cool really. It was almost identical with Gary really. He was in the studio recording his solo album and he too was looking for an accordion player and I managed to get myself onto that gig and it was really great.
Did they both treat you well?
Yes, I have to say that they are both really nice guys. However, at the time I was concentrating on the task in hand so I didn’t get the chance to meet them fully but they were both nice guys.
You have recently opened for The Vamps and Alesha Dixon. What have you taken from that experience?
That particular gig was at the Sheffield Arena and that was the very first time that I had played at an arena. Backstage I was full of nerves and anxiety but I have to say that it went really well. You are always learning different things when you play a gig such as that, even if it is a tiny thing that helps your performance. I have got a picture of me standing on the stage with my saxophone and behind me there are thirteen thousand people so there were lots of nerves that day (laughter).
But are you are getting used to all of that now?
Yes I think so. The first few nights were quite nerve-wracking, making sure that everything went okay but we have all relaxed into it now and are starting to enjoy it more. There is far less pressure on us now.
You are currently supporting Rebecca Ferguson, are you enjoying that?
Yes I am. Rebecca’s team are really nice and they have been really helpful. The sound has been great and there are fifteen nights in all and I am really looking forward to the rest of the tour.
After the tour what next for Max Restaino?
(Laughter) it would nice for me to look forward to having a nice quiet Christmas with the family but I am sure that things will crop up, they usually do (laughter). I intend to just relax and see what comes up as I am sure that there will be something (laughter).
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
That’s a very difficult question but I suppose that I would like to be earning a living out of playing music. For me that is all that I have ever wanted since I was a child.
We jokingly touched on it briefly but are you having thoughts already about your second album?
(Laughter) well I have literally just finished my first album but yes, I will be thinking about the second album very shortly. Making music is different to a normal job because you simply can’t leave it alone, even when you are off duty so to speak. You are always thinking about that chorus, that verse or whatever. You are always thinking about it and it never leaves you alone. It totally takes over your life. For me to write, record and produce my first album has taken me a whole year. Now we are out on the road performing the songs every night so as you can see it really does take up so much of your time and effort and believe me, it can be really tiring.
A lot of the artists that I speak to liken making a new album to having a baby. You are working on it for nine months, then you give it away to the world and hope that they accept your work favourably.
(Laughter) to be honest that is actually a really good way of looking at it.
Who were you listening to when you were growing up?
That would have been my two favourite bands who are Supertramp and ELO, together with the album which really got me into pop music which was Flying Colours by Chris de Burgh. Even now I really do still enjoy those artists. I still think that they are great. Also because I played the accordion as a youngster I would also listen to a lot of Folk music. I have to say that my first love of music was in fact Folk music.
What was the first record that you bought?
That would have been Breakfast In America by Supertramp which just happens to be my favourite album of all times (laughter).
Who did you first see playing live in concert?
That was Chris de Burgh at the Sheffield Arena a few years ago now. I’ve not seen him since so I really would like to go and see him if he ever tours the UK again.
Who has musically inspired you?
One of the only songs on the album that I didn’t write is called Satisfied and that particular song was written by my old saxophone teacher Larry Van Kriedt who just so happens to be the original bassist with AC/DC. Larry taught me how to play the saxophone when I was a kid and I heard a song that he had written on the internet which I loved so much that I decided to record and produce. Larry is my Mr. Miyagi in music (laughter).
Whilst it is still in its infancy and still early days with your career what has been the highlight so far?
That’s easy. The highlight for me was when I had a box delivered to the house a few weeks ago now. I opened it up and there was the album that was finished, mixed, mastered and all packaged up ready to go. That was amazing because all of the hard work and effort that I had put into making the album was there inside a little case that you could hold in your hand. That was a massive thing for me.
You haven’t released the album on vinyl have you?
No I haven’t and I have to be honest with you and say that I hadn’t given it any thought. I will keep that in mind for the second album.
On that note Max let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me and I hope to see you here in Nottingham.