Max Easton is a one man DIY culture machine – writing both fiction and non fiction; playing in bands such as BB and the Blips, the Baby, Basic Human and Romance; running the ‘Meatspin’ label, releasing zines and most recently hosting and producing the ‘Barely Human’ podcast. A deep dive into punk and DIY music. With 11 episodes out thus far, focusing on an eclectic range of musicians who embody the DIY and punk ethos – such as Randy Newman, Stick Men with Ray Guns, Dick Diver and others.

The logo for the Barely Human podcast.

Interestingly for someone so immersed in the counter culture, Max only discovered the world of DIY and punk in his early twenties.
With Max stating,

I tried teaching myself guitar at 21 and then joined bands a few years later… it only became considered after finding all those underground DIY bands in Sydney, and realising that you don’t need to know what you’re doing…
It was welcoming…
I felt welcome to suck at what I was doing.
That was the first time I’d had a sense of belonging since I was playing footy really. It turned out that’s what I’d been looking for my entire life, but I’d just had no exposure to it from the South-West.
So much of my internal politics and ethics and belief systems were given some sense when I found that world, and it was the first time I’d really engaged with them.
People like to make fun of that, but punk and DIY communities unlocked a lot within me and a huge motivation for me contributing to that is the hope that it opens someone else up to something that makes sense to them.

With Max currently working on his debut novel, and continuing to release culture of all type, we thought now was the perfect time to ask Max some questions about his many projects, growing up in Australia, punk, art and a whole lot more.

Read it all in the interview below…

Getting Acquainted

Name + D.O.B?

Max Easton

10th April 1988

City, State and Country you currently call home?

Arncliffe, Sydney, NSW, Australia

City, State and Country you’re from?

Liverpool, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Please describe some memories from key stages of your life: music, art, toys, romance, comic books, school, politics, crime, religion… ANYTHING really!

* Age 5 – beginnings:

My brother came home  from school once with a bag of lollies he got given in a scripture class and he essentially kicked the door down yelling, “I love Jesus look at what he gave me!”
I remember realising that there was something suss about getting paid off by representatives of the church.

My first memory is of a chook delivery to the place we lived in Albany, WA when I was 4 and 5… a hessian sack full of chickens pecking from the inside, very Lovecraftian, very embedded in my brain.

Max as a kid in his footie gear.

* Age 10 – continuations:

10 – 15 is hard to talk about, some sad things happened which made me kind of insular, but I coped by reading a lot, learned to be diplomatic and learned to care for people I think.
I had to grow up really quickly.

I think a lot around this age became embedded in me at the time… my Mum was a Nurse and Dad was a builder, we lived in Liverpool in South-West Sydney so the unionist roots were strong.
Mark Latham was Liverpool mayor around this time… so when he later ran for PM in my teen years I just assumed he was a champion of the Left. Then decades later he revealed himself as a crackpot revealing that I’d been hoodwinked by CENTRISM.

* Age 15 – getting serious:

In this time I was pretty much only focused on making it as a Rugby League player (which is hilarious to me now cos I’m 5’5″ and stopped growing at 16). It was all I cared about, and I was ok at it, but I gave the game up in my early 20s once University took over.
I studied Chemistry for 10 years, I still don’t know why.

Teen Max.

* Age 20 – young adult:

Early 20s were very lonely and confusing. I moved into the city and didn’t know anyone, was working my way through a Chemistry PhD which stressed and overcommitted my poor brain, and I was naive enough to blindly trust everyone and everything thinking things would just… work themselves out?

I think all people in their early 20s hit a moment when the curtain drops… and it reveals all the shit about yourself and what’s around you. After that happened and my PhD finished I moved to Montreal to work at a laboratory with no plans of returning, but came back with tail between my legs 12 months later.

* Age 25 – adult mode:

In saying all that, I eventually discovered Sydney’s underground music communities and that was the first time I’d had a sense of belonging since I was playing footy really. It turned out that’s what I’d been looking for my entire life, but I’d just had no exposure to it from the South-West.
I have Repressed Records to thank for that, and all the people who were playing in bands at that time and opening up a world that was lost to me.

So much of my internal politics and ethics and belief systems were given some sense when I found that world, and it was the first time I’d really engaged with them.
People like to make fun of that, but punk and DIY communities unlocked a lot within me and a huge motivation for me contributing to that is the hope that it opens someone else up to something that makes sense to them.

A photo of Max playing bass for BB and the Blips back in 2017.

* Age 30 – fully formed:

Figuring yourself out in your 20s is great, and 30 seems to have become much easier until I recently realised that figuring yourself out means you know who you are, and when it feels fixed that creates a whole other set of problems.
Identity crisis part two.

Personal motto(s)?

I refer to the holy text: Album – Generic Flipper, which doth wrote:
“Life. Life. Life is the only thing worth living for.”

Music, Writing and Culture Questions

For those reading at home who may be unaware – please explain the who, what, and why of your Meatspin record label and publishing house?

Meatspin came out of the desire to highlight a number of new Sydney bands with common ideas to demonstrate that something very interesting was and is happening here.

The bands I try to put out all reflect shared values, have inter-connected members, tend to think of community first and individual success second, it’s an attempt at community-building I suppose?

The idea of adding publishing to a record label was about trying to communicate ideas as well as music, and doing it in print was to try to help in building a permanent record of our existence.

This is all wishful thinking of course, but that’s the motivation at least! The who includes… Tim & The Boys, Basic Human, The Baby, MUM, Xilch, Enderie, Call Compatible and Allistics.

The Meatspin logo.

When and why did you first start to make music and write in a considered manner?
… and any pivotal music and writing moment(s) / influence(s)?

I tried teaching myself guitar at 21 and then joined bands a few years later… it only became considered after finding all those underground DIY bands in Sydney, and realising that you don’t need to know what you’re doing.
It was welcoming…
I felt welcome to suck at what I was doing.

I was always writing. I started writing a book when I was sixteen, I don’t know what happened to that… I tried again at nineteen and then moved into music journalism for a bit of extra cash ($30 a review, $60 an interview… which was bad pay then but I’d kill for anything right now!)
I used to write fiction and publish it sheepishly on a tumblr page, but I’ve only made that a primary project this year.

The pivotal or influential people were two Sydney writers… one was Nathan Roche, who writes like six unedited and very sloppy books a year. He was once sat me down and told me to worry less, and to just do things and put it out there; it took me five years to listen to that very good advice.
The other was Shaun Prescott, whose early short stories were just very good, simple, incredibly written and in his own voice that I wasn’t seeing elsewhere (the writing schools seem to create a hive mind where it feels like if you can’t speak the hive’s language then you can’t publish anything). Shaun’s book The Town is one of the best things I’ve read in years.

What do you do for a day job at the moment?
… and how does your day job impact / influence your artistic practice?

I’m really lucky to have had just enough funding to pay myself from my writing projects, and was given a bump along last year through the NEIS scheme.

For a long, long time my day job was as a research scientist, so maybe that’s been more influential… I think it taught me to look for patterns and trends and connections that aren’t obvious at first glance.
Working methodically as well as playing loose.

Please describe the usual process involved with producing your art?
– your writing?

It comes when it comes.

I constantly keep notes, always have a notepad on me, try to stay in touch with my memory and try to build stories around them. I read and listen widely and try to connect ideas together where I can.

I feel lucky to enjoy writing, it helps me make sense of the way things intersect.

 – your music?

Music is done entirely in the bandroom with the other band members. I hate practising at home and if I’ve ever told anyone I went home to practice a riff that was an out and out lie to save face.
I like to do it all in the shared space, pick up what other people are doing and let myself change and evolve with each practice.

I used to think that made me lazy, then I thought it was my ‘process,’ now I think it may be just a liiiittle bit lazy…

Max playing bass in Basic Human, circa 2019.
Photo by Jake Ollett.

– your zines?

I try to get the ideas out as quick as possible and edit as minimally as possible (for better or worse).
You can truly edit yourself into submission.

I listen to records and jot down ideas about that band… I read about history or the economy or some shit and think about how those things might be connected to era or place.

The main thing I think for me is to try to develop all my ideas first and then fact check them… it’s a great feeling when you were onto something, and it’s kinda exhilarating when you’re completely wrong too.

A collection of some of the zines that Max has written and released.

 – your podcasting?

The podcast is an adaptation of the zines so it’s a similar process, just with more connection making… trying to think of a time period and a thematic thread while putting bands into that context and pairing them up with someone unexpected.

Speaking of your podcasting, if you had to explain ‘Barely Human’, to some recently crash-landed aliens. What would you tell them?

Telling a recently crash landed species about your podcast does actually sound like an extremely ‘guy with a podcast’ scenario so that’s probably not as absurd a question as it sounds…

Barely Human is the music history I wish I’d been exposed to when I was growing up to save me some time, it took me decades to figure out my own ethical framework and taste in music and art.
Maybe I’d tell ‘alien’ or ‘past me’ that I think there’s a lot of fucken bullshit music out there made by a lot of fucken bullshit people for a lot of fucken bullshit reasons… and Barely Human might be a way of viewing that perspective.

How do you separate and approach each of the various mediums you work in – both thematically and aesthetically?

In my twenties I tried really hard to make distinctions between all the things I did: I was a scientist by day, then I was a music writer at night, then I played bass and guitar on weekends…
I think it was ultimately damaging to split myself into composite parts.

Now I try to see everything I do as related, and working towards a common goal or framework. The music I make with bands of people I have great respect for is obviously tied to the podcast series, and the ethics underneath all of that I think make up what I’m writing about in my novel too.

Aesthetics, I dunno, I realised in the process of Barely Human that how much I really do love the oppositional artist… so the anti-art, dadaist, postmodern, absurdist trash makes sense to me aesthetically.
I think?

What impact has punk culture and music had on your life and creative expression?
…and what does “punk” mean to you anyhow?

This is a hard one cos I have a fraught relationship with the idea of punk.
It saved me when I found it, but there’s also so, so much I hate about things that are identifiable as punk too.

I’m ultimately a normie you know, I was a scientist for ten years, I was a pseudo-jock trying to make a Rugby League career work… a very normal kid from the Western Suburbs, so I don’t think I will ever truly feel punk the way many who adopt it as an identity do.
But it has helped me with realising that a framework is useful, it’s helped me realise art and music shouldn’t be a pissing contest from one pedestal to another but something accessible to anyone with or without the means.

Punk to me doesn’t mean anything, but the ideas underneath it, and the responses to it do… My takeaway from punk’s evolution is the importance of dissolving idols, industries and institutions: my three most disliked things.

Max playing drums with The Baby circa 2019.
Photo by Nick Nolan.

Favorite other writers, musicians, record labels and publishing houses?


They’re a band from Brisbane who write and publish the Soot zine and release mixtapes by the bands around them. The writing is smart and welcoming, it’s trying to figure the world out in their own way and links ideas in a strong, funny, intelligent way.

They’re collective-based and open to anyone.

The band itself is unbelievable, and has this push for the new with a rare understanding and love of the past too. Soot and the bands around them are to me the most interesting arts movement happening anywhere in the world right now. That’s all very hyperbolic, but they sum up everything I look for in music, art, writing, publishing.

Soot achieved all the goals I set for my own work the moment they existed.

Any projects you want to hype?

I’m writing my first novel at the moment, it’s being released by Giramondo Publishing in 2021. I’m excited about it!

The writing community hasn’t had much interest in the stuff I’ve done, so it’s such an honour to have found a publisher who immediately understood me and saw some value in what I’m working on.

I nervously printed a small zine of short stories last year to sell at cost to friends, and on a whim I sent a copy to Giramondo with a typewritten letter and a typewritten ‘resume’ purely as a joke at my own expense.
It was a gag, essentially no publishers or magazines reply to my emails, so I was very  surprised when they emailed me back and wanted to publish a book!

It’s an episodic novel, some connected shorts that reveal some different sides to three characters who meet as kids through Rugby League communities in South-West Sydney, some ventures into music communities, some family secrets, spouse swapping, lots of different ideas that I hope are interesting to read.

If people wanted to work with you, have a chat or buy something – how should they get in touch?

I’d love to work with more people on some different things, so many of my writing projects are very insular, so yes: email any time.

Buy things via email so bandcamp and paypal aren’t taking cuts but also is an avenue.
Please reach out!

A pile of Meatspin releases – including cassettes, records, zines and books!

Odds and Ends

If you could live in any place, during any historical era – where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?

To be honest… Sydney in 2013 was very, very special.

I miss venues like The Square, Blackwire, the Old Fitz, the rise of bands like Low Life and Oily BoysHousewives, The Friendsters, Destiny 3000 and Ghastly Spats, affordable rent… hadn’t had my first proper meltdown yet… the chronic pain hadn’t started… was writing regularly for Mess+Noise and people gave a shit about communicating: a very good and lively conversation and sense of community was happening!

Of course post-punk London sounds like it would have been an amazing time, but I get the feeling that it’s best looked back on than experiencing first hand.

What role did toys play in your childhood(s)?

I was a bit of a sickly kid with hayfever and asthma and had a stuffed bear that I named Alan.
It set off my allergies so my parents would have to sit it on a chair at the other side of the room which I’d stare at mournfully with a ventilator running until eventually falling asleep.

Mmm. That came out sounding way darker than I thought it would.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

Depends if you gotta go to work on Monday. Everyone who has experimented with drugs has wasted extraordinary amounts of time. Everyone who has experimented with drugs has also seen and experienced things that are beyond the capacity of the human brain… so what I’m saying is gateway with a couple days worth of being a useless shit.

I think they can be very important for people, hallucinogens have been very good to me.

What do you think the Australian zeitgeist is today?

I couldn’t say, it means so many things to so many people.

People like to think of zeitgeist as a positive term but I dunno… I mean look around you outside of our progressive bubble and ‘the spirit of the age’ in this country is… dark.

Who was your 1st crush?

When I was five my Nan took me to Disney on Ice and when Minnie Mouse hit the rink, I knew what love was.

A photo of the 1990s cast of Disney on Ice – with Minnie Mouse pictured at the back, next to Mickey Mouse.

Does sex change everything?

I have never had sex so I can not answer this question, but people do really seem to really enjoy it!

What are the top 3 items you own?

The Arncliffe gourd.
I grew this over the Summer, it’s huge and for a few months it was all I was thinking about.
It’s named Gourdon, and if we weren’t all in quarantine right now I wanted to have a ceremonial destruction of him that led to everyone getting seeds to grow their own giant gourds. I may destroy it alone and post the seeds though, so send through your orders.

Max’s giant gourd.

I’m not a huge record collector but there are a few on the shelf with back stories that make them prize possessions to me.
This one is a copy of the Randy Newman Good Old Boys LP that I picked up for 75 c when BB & The Blips were on tour in the States.
It’s not a special edition or anything, but the story of its role in that record store made me laugh because it’s how I picture Randy Newman’s life as a musician – There are two price stickers on the cover, beginning at $4 (already discounted in the used section), written over in texta to make it $1, then to make it clear no one gave a shit, dropped again to 94 cents (before being dropped in the unpriced 75c clearance bin.

Max’s marked-down copy of Randy Newman’s 1975 LP, Good Old Boys.

Look, this is a trite cliche I know, but this typewriter. My ma gifted it to me for my 30th and when I eventually used it it changed my whole approach to writing.
It brings me back to the tangibility of words, and considering I like to release everything in print where possible, it’s nice to physically watch a sentence take shape.
It’s necessary to be online now, but the intangibility ruins my mind.

Max’s typewriter – a gift from his mother.

Please describe your last dream in detail…

I recently had a dream that was not too dissimilar to this one described in the liner notes for The UV Race’s Homo LP:
I dreamt that I was walking down the street and a cop stopped me and asked to look in my backpack. I said sure and then he pulled out a 1kg bag of cocaine and then whispered to me YOU’RE FUCKED NOW.
He then put his hand in my pants and started to finger my rectum and was laughing in an evil way.
He then turned into a cat and I took him home and chucked him in the fire. I was shouting BURN THAT CAT BURN THAT CAT I was very angry at the cat.

Marcus Rechsteiner, 2011

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I have no need for anything I’ve done to be remembered, happy to fade to black.


Max playing guitar in Romance circa 2018.
Photo by Scarlet Benson.