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Twin Citie's Down Lo on the cover of Maximum Ink September 2008 - Artwork by Cory Harrison

Down Lo

by Mike Huberty
September 2008

Funky, melodic, and heartfelt, DOWN LO from The Twin Cities is combining traditional (and not so traditional) jam band music with hip-hop and traveling all around the country with their latest record, In Our World. Guitarist and vocalist, Mark Grundhoefer, describes it as “a blend of a number of different genres. Passion’s the name of the game. Bluegrass to reggae, jazz, funk, we try to throw a little bit of everything that influences us in there. Plus, we do a lot of improvisation with jams where each musician steps up to take his role, so we try to keep it interesting that way.”


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Minneapolis' Heatbox


by Andrew Frey
May 2009

Vocal organists are a hard lot to find. Humans may all be born with mouths, but what emanates from that orifice varies greatly. Babies tend to be the most creative but also unrefined when it comes to their vocal expressions. Some folks however take the time to refine their vocal tool and the results can be spectacular. Case in point HEATBOX, the one man beatboxing sensation from Minneapolis, MN who describes his music as sounding like a “funky a’ capella group from outer space.” 

His new release is called “System” and drops on May 5, 2009, necessitating a tour and therefore a fantastic opportunity to see him live and in top form. I’ve seen HEATBOX several times over the past several years and he is always extremely interesting and entertaining as a performer.  I was pleased when he recently had a moment to answer a few questions. Since the amount of solo beatboxing performers is a slim one at best, I was curious as to how he chose his musical path.  “I have always had a nerdy spot in my heart for a’ capella music… and funk!” Heatobox begins. “But really I think it chose me.”

When performing, Heatbox is far more than just a simple a’ capella performer. Hums, whirls, squeaks, scratches, thumps and bumps are but a paltry attempt to semantically replicate the types of sounds in his arsenal of vocal slurries. I questioned if certain sounds are harder to generate than others?


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Hed PE

Hed PE

An interview with guitarist Jackson Benge
by Tina Ayres
July 2014

Hed PE is back with their ninth studio album to the delight of American Rapcore fans everywhere. Their latest offering, Evolution, is slated for release this July on Pavement Entertainment. Comprised of Jared Gomes(vocals), Mawk(bass), Jackson Benge(guitar) , and Trauma(drums) the band is back with sounds heavier than ever.

Maximum Ink: What were you like as a child growing up? What would you say are your fondest memories of that time?
Jackson Benge: I was a hyper kid. My grade school teachers would always write the same types of comments on my report cards; “He has a lot of energy,” or, “Distracts other kids.” I couldn’t keep still and couldn’t stop staring at the clouds. My imagination was my best friend and I used to love to draw. One of my fondest memories growing up was the first time I rode a bicycle without training wheels. As long as my memory is still intact, that will remain among the fondest.

MI: How old were you when you wrote your first song? Do you remember what it was about?
JB: I was about 15 or 16 years old when I wrote one of my first actual songs. Believe it or not, I wrote the lyrics as well. It was called, “Hold On,” and it was a cross between “Earth Angel” by the Penguins and “Don’t Cry” by Guns ‘n’ Roses. It was a simple love song about wanting to be with a girl you can’t have. At the time, many girls around me seemed to like that song, so I guess it was a relative success.

MI: Are you excited to be releasing your ninth studio album on Pavement Entertainment?
JB: “Evolution” is our 9th studio release and it’s always exciting to put out a new record, especially with a label like Pavement, which clearly has a solid grasp on how to treat their artists. The team we now have working with us is incredible. When I talk to others who have worked with Pavement, they have nothing but great things to say about them as well.


Madison's Know Boundaries in Maximum Ink in April 2008

Know Boundaries

by Dan Vierck
April 2008

Know Boundaries, speaking simply, is indefinable. Calling them rap-rock is misleading because they’re, you know, good. Allowing for a more complicated definition, they describe their intention “[to] mix hip hop and rock and not make them two separate styles of music but just one music using the power in both.”

The six-piece, six-year Madison veterans have opened for groups as disparate as Cypress Hill and the Gin Blossoms. They’ve been sponsored by Budweiser’s True Music program, won multiple Madison Area Music Awards and have been showcased at numerous industry conferences.

The band is exceptional in that it follows through on its intention. The music of Know Boundaries has the energy and power of all exciting and powerful music, tastefully brought together in one sound. The rhythm is heavy - a deceivingly simple drum beat paired with an ambitious and audible, but not overpowering bass. This leaves the guitar to flit around on the high end mostly, ducking back into the general groove for the lush hooks and choruses. Out front the band flaunts a cooperative rap-rock ying yang. An easy symbol of the band’s musical ambition, the rapper and singer twist around with each other, always in support - never detracting from one another’s parts. Through all this the keys (a decked out and supplemented-with-gizmos Rhodes) steer this would-be chaotic ship through melodies that don’t get old when they repeat-they get stronger.


Les Paul holding a copy of Maximum Ink backstage at the Iridium Jazz club in New York City - photo by Otto Schamberger


An interview with director and creator of Launchpad Dennis Graham
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

“Some of the best original music today comes from high school garage bands.” –Les Paul

The Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is about to kick off the seventh year of the one of a kind music competition called Launchpad, using the same idea that the late great Les Paul personified in his quote. Launchpad is a statewide alternative music competition for high school students in bands formed outside of the traditional music classroom. Maximum Ink caught up with director and creator of the competition, Dennis Graham to talk about how the competition got started and where he sees it heading in the coming years.

Maximum Ink: Tell us about how Launchpad got started.

Dennis Graham: I was approached by the WSMA, which presents this program, seven years ago to talk about raising awareness on raising funds for them. As a result of my discussions with Michael George, the current Executive Director of the WSMA, and I brought up a couple ideas and the first was to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize people who had a successful music career and were also impacted by a music teacher. The first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Wisconsin was given to Les Paul. I hand delivered a letter that I wrote, which was signed by Governor Doyle, to Les inviting him back to Wisconsin (He hadn’t been back in twenty years.) October 27th, 2004 was Les Paul Day in the State of Wisconsin and it was just a marvelous day of honoring him. Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band), Les’ godson, came out and was part of it as well.


hip hop reggaeton from Madison/Milwaukee, Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre

by Mike Huberty
July 2008

Madison hip-hop/reggaeton group, LUCHA LIBRE gives a nod to their home turf in their song, “Midwest Bang” on their new album, The Takeover. With a nod to Coolio’s “Sumpin’ New” (quickly followed by a Buffalo Springfield quote), they chant “There ain’t no party like a Midwest party ‘cuz a Midwest party don’t stop.” It’s an interesting statement. After all, this is Madison, where hip-hop is supposed to be controversial and problematic. Amid that, LUCHA LIBRE is creating their own success in a city where hip-hop and rap fans have complained for years that they haven’t gotten the same respect or opportunities. And with their new record, they’re confident and stepping up.


the first Mifflin Street Block Party circa 1969

The Mifflin Street Block Party

by Mike Huberty
April 2010

The University of Wisconsin has traditionally held two giant student parties every year. One is Halloween (where out of town revelers caused so many problems, it evolved into Freak Fest, still a good party but one that turns State Street into a demilitarized zone each year) and the other is the Mifflin Street Block Party. Started in 1969 as a reaction to the Vietnam War (the event that seems to loom over every student activity or university story from that decade), the party has been an annual tradition some times at odds with the city and some times with the city’s blessing. After a long time of relative peace, in 1996, drunken and foolish partygoers decided to attack a fire truck that came to put out a bonfire started in the middle of the street. Next thing you know, there’s riot gear, people are screaming bloody murder, and lots and lots of arrests are made. Needless to say, the 1997 party was kind of a drag. But the fest has continued in the ensuing years, and now local music promoters DCNY PRO, Madison natives and longtime Mifflin Street attendees, David Coleman and Ny Bass, have taken the bull by the horns. They spearheaded the party in 2009 to one of its most successful years. On the fortieth anniversary of the festival and even with over fifteen-thousand people in attendance, arrests were down from the year before and in 2010, they’re bringing more changes to make it a friendlier and safer place.


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