Musician, Producer, Studio Owner
Max Feinstein is a bit of an anomaly. He’s frenetic and excitable, speaking passionately about the guitar, songwriting, noise, production, studio work and inspiration, while at the same time thoughtful, measured, precise, prudent and deliberate in his approach to conversation. He’s the rare breed of musician whose mind moves at lightning speed, yet whose mouth can keep up.
In conversation he jumps like a treasure hunter from topic to topic, explaining how noise has always equaled his best form self-expression or the route which led him from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Megadeth to Frank Zappa or how his background in improv acting has served him as a shape-shifting musician. Somehow, though, there is a constant thread through his thoughts. One of collaboration, of listening and of appreciating the myriad points of view that anyone can bring to the table, either via music, conversation or any other form of interpersonal connection.
Perhaps it is this amalgam of rapid fire inspiration and real-world materialization that makes Feinstein such a highly sought after guitar player and studio maven.
Born and raised in and around Hoboken, New Jersey, Feinstein was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder at an early age. Angry at what he saw as a physical shortcoming, Feinstein found noise making as the most resolute way to channel his youthful rage. The immediacy of shouting, clapping or banging begat his earliest acoustical experimentation as he started to notice a shift in timbre, echo and sonics depending on his surroundings. The curiosity born from this, coupled with the rebellion of a young man doing exactly what his parents told him not to, and his self-avowed nature of standard-fare Italian-American defiance (despite his Northern European surname) resulted in Feinstein becoming a constant source of noise.
It was around age thirteen that Feinstein began to channel the noise he had always created into music. The prominence of outlets like MTV2 and New York’s rock radio K-Rock further pushed Max toward rock and roll, as the music of Blink-182 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers began to speak to him in an innate way. In these bands, he found that messages of inclusion, love and unconditional enthusiasm were paramount, which soon led him to pick up his first guitar.
His musical education soon got a massive jolt, however, as while working a shift at his brother’s restaurant, an older co-worker presented him with a CD of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke’s jazz fusion band Return To Forever.
Hearing guitarist Al Di Meola blend his ornate, experimental guitar playing with the band’s popular sound was, as Feinstein describes it, “an extreme experience.”
It was this mixture of pop sensibilities with downright weirdness that led him to such staple acts as Parliament Funkadelic and, arguably his most beloved, Prince, as both artists had a penchant to stretch out and find the oddities that were available in a pure pop song.
Feinstein’s next jolt of inspiration came through his budding obsession with thrash icons Megadeth. As he pored over Dave Mustaine’s guitar playing and examined the ways in which the band used the studio, Feinstein noticed drummer Vinnie Colaiuta’s name from some of his other liner notes. After a quick cross-reference he found the drummer’s name again, only this time it was on a Frank Zappa album and began to revel in the idea that Colaiuta was not only not limited to a single style, but involved with genres as diametrically opposed as Megadeth’s thrash metal and Zappa’s jazz-tinged experimental rock.
Feinstein began collaborating with as many people as possible, fashioning himself as a self-described “creature of utility,” constantly trying to write with adjacent musicians or to contribute to someone else’s music. Citing his background in improv comedy--the self-described “magnetic north” of his life--as the most utilitarian tool for blending ideas with other musician, Feinstein often feels most at home when he finds himself jumping on new material, pivoting and producing ideas from thin air.
Soon Feinstein’s slate was full as he found himself playing with, backing and collaborating musicians like The Devyl Nellys, Jaime Rose, Debra Devi, Precious Roy, Pyroclast and The Spines, and nabbing endorsement deals with Reverend guitars, Peavey amps and DiMarzio pickups.
Aiming to push his musical collusions even further, he opened his own studio, Hoboken’s Silver Horse Sound to record, produce and arrange other bands and artists while developing and cultivating the tried and true method of such luminous studios as Stax, Motown and Muscle Shoals FAME; that is to say, the in-house band.
With the help his longtime friends and musical cohorts John Roccesano and Benjamin Scott, whom Feinstein met while touring with The Devil Nellys and working at Nashville’s famed Blackbird Studio, the Silver Horse Sound house band began to take shape. Soon artists like Jamie Della Fave, Ross Sandler, Dead Fish Handshake, Liam Brown and Daryl Joo began finding their way to Silver Horse sound in search of the environment that Feinstein had created.
And while he will remain the frenetic, excitable, passionate well of curiosity, the constant thread of collaboration, of musical and interpersonal improv, and the readiness to always contribute to and with other artists will continue to allow Feinstein to grow as one of the most sought after and at-the-ready musicians, producers and arrangers today.