Localized: Max Pain and the Groovies

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Photo: Peter Anderson

SLUG Magazine celebrates 22 years at this month’s Localized music showcase! Join the SLUG Mag crew as we celebrate over two decades of Utah subculture on Friday, February 18 at the Urban Lounge! We’ve handpicked a stellar, local line-up just for you!  We’ll see the blues influenced rock of Max Pain and the Groovies,  metal rockers Speitre and the sickest guy in town on the ones and twos, DJ Knucklz. $6 gets you in.

Tcoy Coughlin – drums  
David Johnson – singer  
Shane  Preece – guitar  
Dallin Smith – guitar   
Jake Brimley – bass

“People like to let out a lot of emotion at our shows. There are people throwing each other around and couples dancing super close to each other,” bass player Jake Brimley says when describing a typical Max Pain show. The description is spot on. At their CD release show at the Sugar Shack in Nov. 2010, the crowd exploded in a multitude of directions.  The front row was made up of guys head banging throughout the set. Behind the row of head bangers it didn’t take long for a mosh pit to swirl out of control. On the peripherals of the crowd you could find girls writhing and grinding as if possessed by the mysticism of the music.  It was the kind of show where everyone who attended could only describe it as “fucking crazy.” “It’s easy for people to get loose when they see other people get loose. And we got a groove,” says drummer Tcoy Coughlin.

If there is one thing this band knows how to do, it’s getting loose. At any given show, despite the venue or size of the crowd, the boys of Max Pain are putting on one hell of a performance. Lead singer, David Johnson—who often rocks a pair of shades and black, wide-brimmed hat—commands attention on stage in a way that calls to mind prolific front men like Mick Jagger. His over-the-top vocal performance is backed by sometimes sloppy, but always bluesy rock n’ roll. What is most surprising about the group isn’t their high-energy performances or ability to entice a crowd to dance, but the fact that they’ve only been playing together for a little over a year. Max Pain and the Groovies’ first show took place in the front room of their former house with Spell Talk on New Year’s Eve 2009. “My drums almost caught on fire and the ground got burnt,” Coughlin says. In approximately a year, these boys have recorded a five-song demo, built a following within the Salt Lake music scene and have a tour in the works for the end of February. 

The Groovies played their second show with Holy Water Buffalo and The Spins to a packed house at Kilby Court in early April 2010. After that the fairly new band continued to build momentum—playing gigs during Salty Streets Flea Market, at Snowbasin with Spell Talk, at Urban Lounge and Uncle Uncanny’s mountain music festival in August. The onslaught of live shows didn’t end as the weather turned colder either. “I thought during winter it would die. I thought we were going to have a break, but we are playing even more shows,” Brimley says.

February finds Max Pain and the Groovies playing Park City Television, Fats Grill, SLUG’s anniversary party and at the end of the month embarking on a short tour through Colorado. The band estimates that lately they have been playing approximately three to four shows per month.

According to the Groovies, the friendly and supportive local music and skate scenes of Salt Lake City are some of the reasons they feel they’ve gained notoriety so quickly.  “We are so new we just look up to everybody and they’ve never once turned away from helping us out,” says Coughlin of the Groovies’ relationships with other local bands. They say that local groups like Fox Van Cleef and Spell Talk have been particularly supportive. “They had been in the game for a while, so for them to tell us everything they knew and put out the good word for us helped us a lot,” says Preece. Coughlin says that every local band the Groovies have played with during their short history has been an exciting opportunity. “You can tell it’s a whole bunch of friends that just want to keep playing shows together,” says Coughlin. When the Groovies hear they will play the anniversary party with local metal band Speitre the room erupts in a chorus of “fuck yeah” and “sick.”

The supportive scene aside, what makes Max Pain stand out is their ability to whip a crowd into a wild frenzy. They roam the stage like seasoned music vets, provoking the crowd to let go of their inhibitions and let their hair down. According to the band, their reputation of a wild crowd is partially rooted in the party house from which they initially arose. “People are willing to let themselves come out and really groove to us and that’s what’s so rad. No one is afraid,” says Preece. “I think that goes back to that house that we had where we first started jamming. It was just a party every night. Everyone felt welcome, and everyone was really welcome. We had at least 30 people over there every night.”

Experience the party when Max Pain and the Groovies play SLUG’s anniversary party at Urban Lounge on Feb. 18.


Photo: Peter Anderson