photo by James Pederson
Christmas albums can often be a fairly staid affair, usually a little too willing to play it safe and mostly too reverent to have much fun. The new “Madison Area Christmas Compilation” (nicknamed “M.A.XMas”), however, isn’t afraid to grab Santa by his jollies and roast his chestnuts on an open fire. With bands running the gamut from rap to punk to metal, they’re fully embracing a hard rock holiday where nothing is sacred.
Madison rockers Jeremy Gehler and Jon Kussow of Kuhler Music (whose title is a mashup of their names) were hanging out talking about the Ringo Starr Christmas Album Gehler had just obtained (a kitsch purchase that he’s brave to admit in the first place!) when they realized that the Madison needs one too and definitely in 2010. That was September 24th, which meant they’d have less than 12 weeks to organize, write, record, and produce it. According to Gehler, “We quickly moved to compiling a list and calling every band that we could think of. About two hours later, we had Dan-O (Dan Stoffels from Danchez Audio) on board as well as about eight bands that wanted to get involved right away.” They knew the production process might be grueling to get the CD out before Christmas but they figured with everyone’s help, it could be done. As Kussow elaborates, “Everybody knew the deadline but was excited as hell to get going and to make it happen. We all pushed each other along.”
When Dan-O jumped on board, he offered the services of the students at Madison Media Institute where he’s an instructor and that not only helped them book the necessary studio time, but it offers the students a lesson in real-world record music production. As Stoffels elaborates, “I teach the studio recording class every week and the students come in and record and I’m there to supervise and produce. It’s a win-win where the students get a really good fast-paced recording experience in the classroom and we all get a high-quality recording out of it.”
Almost the entire album was recorded over the course of several weekends in late October and November at MMI,and ten bands volunteered to write an original song as well as pick their favorite Christmas song for recording. Stoffels equates the process for this album to a conveyor belt, with bands all in the studio working together to get the tracks done on time and he says “There was a lot of collaboration, a lot of group vocals. People from other bands would help perform each others songs and that was great.” Kussow’s favorite track to listen to so far is the hip-hop 626’s “626Mas” while Gehler likes the ska of 4 AM’s “Santa in a Ski Mask” (with some Silent Night, Deadly Night influence.) Stoffels’ favorite is GOVERNMENT ZERO’s “Christmas Made In China” (a little commentary about modern toy production), but they all have kind words for KILL JUNIOR’s “Christmas Morning Sex” and they all laugh at one of their favorite lines from the record so far, “Here comes the buttsex!” (trust me, it makes complete sense once you hear the song.) Other bands include local favorites like AXIOM, LOT 74, WALL OF FUNK, LORDS OF THE TRIDENT, and YLAB and you’ll hear everything from a heavy metal “Greensleeves” to a particularly ridiculous rendition of “Carol of the Bells”.
Preorders are available at Kuhler Music’s website, www.kuhlermusic.com/maxmas but the guys encourage the bands’ fans to get the CDs directly from the artists themselves because the artists make the money from the CD sales. The release party for M.A.Xmas at The Annex on December 18th. And it’s not going to be just a regular rock show, but a full production. Nine of the bands from the compilation are appearing as well as guest emcee, Chris Frutiger, helping out with stories and skits between the acts. Santa’s making an appearance as well, but the spirit of the season will be well represented by a canned food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank as well as a portion of the door being donated to The United Way.(3433) Page Views MAXmas Online:
CD: Madison Area Christmas Compilation Record Label: Kuhler Music