Artists of Rock Bridge: Max Schaefer


Max Shaefer plays “Black Bird,’ by the Beatles.

Kat Sarafianos

Max Schaefer, Junior
How do you define yourself as an artist?
I play guitar and I sing, but I mostly just play guitar.
Do you play in a band?
Yes, but we haven’t played together for a couple months.
How do you feel about that?
I feel very sad.
Why haven’t you guys been playing?
Because everyone did a bunch of sports and stuff over the fall and the summer and so now that all those [activities] are done the plan is to start up this weekend again. ok, but, I don’t know knowing high schoolers that might not happen.
Who’s in your band?
It’s all people from Hickman*, I have Mikali Hawkins, Sasha Ross and Joe Holtfern.
What do they play?
Mikali and Sasha are singers and Joe plays bass and Parker plays drums.
What type of music do you guys play?
We do a lot of covers of soulful and contemporary stuff. The best song we’ve ever performed was probably, “Dog Days,” by Florence and the Machine and it was so cool because Mikali’s got this really soulful, deep voice and Sasha’s voice is higher so when they do the harmonies it’s amazing, and the guitar would come in with the harmony and the bass would fill out the low end and there was this steady rhythm that sounded so cool.
Where was this?
It was at battle of the bands at the Bridge, which is where I think we first performed it, in March. Or maybe May, I don’t really remember.
Did you guys win?
Yeah. (Max is smirking)
How did that feel?
It felt really good cause that was the first time that Mikali and I brought other people  into our band, because we’ve played together for years, and so it felt really cool because even though we had practiced a bunch we were still pretty new to each other and we had never really performed together before [the battle] so it was really cool that we pulled together.
Did you feel a high when you won or played on stage?
Definitely. It’s really hard to describe. It’s like you’re so nervous and jittery that everything just comes at you, and it’s in this higher resolution and so you’re up there and you don’t want to disappoint people but you also think you could do a really good job and so you look out and lock eyes with all the people you know in the crowd, and it just feels awesome.
Is that why you play? For that feeling?
I play just because I enjoy playing guitar, and I like the people I play with, and I really love the music I play, But I also really really like the high.
Why do you enjoy playing the guitar?
I don’t  know, I’ve been doing it for six years, and so it’s just something I found that calms me down. I had actually played piano my entire elementary school career, but I never wanted to. I wanted to play any other instrument and up until the sixth grade my hands weren’t big enough to play the guitar and so when I was finally grown enough to try it, I just loved it.
Why guitar?
I thought it was just cool at first and we had one laying around my uncle had abandoned and so I was used to going up to it and just plucking the strings before I could do anything and I liked the sounds that it made so I just went for it.
What made it cool to you?
All my heroes from when I was really little played guitar like Dick Dale and Johnny cash and all these people that I just associated with being really great so I just wanted to emulate them.
Does your experience at Rock Bridge affect your ability to grow as an artist?
The thing I’ve noticed at Rock Bridge-and I’m not in band anymore-is that there are people in band and music programs here who really get to explore themselves and their instruments. Which is great, but at Battle and Hickman they have this thing called the “Academy of Rock,” which is a recording studio where kids who want to record their music can. They also have a club to go along with it where musicians and kids who aren’t in band or orchestra at school can still play and explore and do more with music because they don’t get the same encouragement you get with a class. It’s great for kids who don’t have an outlet at school if they don’t play like a traditional instrument and so, since the rest of my band plays at Hickman, I’ve gotten to be apart of that, and I wish we had that at Rock Bridge.
Do you think that’s something that could happen at Rock Bridge?
Most musicians who are gonna continue to be musicians are usually already in the music programs we have because they do play the more traditional school instruments. I’d love to see a program like that at Rock Bridge though and get people who don’t feel like they have an environment or outlet to play in an opportunity.
Have you ever had one moment where you wish you were playing music rather than what you were currently doing?
All the time.
Well, give me one.
Well, when I’m gone for long periods of time, like a couple years ago went backpacking in the redwoods and the entire time I just kept thinking, “I really wish I had my guitar,” and than I got home at like 4 a.m., and all I could do was play.
Does being alone help you play or does it hinder you?
It helps when I write, but I like to be alone anyway. Not all the time, but in general, since I’m around people all the time, I like separating myself and  playing by myself. It just helps me figure out what I have to do.
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