“I was always hoping to get a mentor,” singer-songwriter Max Frost says of Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums. “It’s sort of like ‘The Karate Kid’: learning from Mr. Miyagi, in this case, the older, wiser, more experienced artist. . . . He acted more as a compass for how I was putting it all together.”
Frost tapped Fitz to help produce his debut full-length album “Gold Rush” (2018), along with Mick Schultz (Rihanna, Jeremih, YG). With more pop sounds and influences than his previous EPs, “Low High Low” (2013) and “Intoxication” (2015), Frost says it’s all connected to some degree. Featuring songs like “Good Morning” and “Money Problems,” much of “Gold Rush” was pieced together while both Frost and Fitz were on the road.
“So I would be close to finishing a song and I would send it to [Fitz], and he was more challenging what I had done,” Frost clarifies. “It was a lot of ‘I think it’s 90% there,’ ‘I think you should change this to this.’ It was having someone who could speak the language of music beyond just ‘I like this.’ All the songs, for me, reflect his input that way. And I always had him in mind, knowing that I had a pretty tough critic on the songwriting.”
Frost will perform from his entire catalog at Bourgie Nights on Friday, August 9.
“Gold Rush” represents a change in scenery when he decided to make a move to Los Angeles from Austin, Texas. Growing up he had a lot of influences and foundation in blues, as well as a love for The Beatles, Hendrix, Sinatra and Sam Cooke. He describes a “safe world” with his young musician friends, listening to classic rock and vinyl. Even as he discovered underground hip-hop and dived into new soundscapes and collaborations, he needed to expand his perspective and influences more.
“When you’re in the same place you’ve been your whole life you feel like the same person,” Frost offers, “and when you’re in a new place your idea who you are can change.”
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Frost also released a steady stream of singles, including somewhat introspective and observational songwriting in “Adderall,” “High All Day” and “President.”
“The older I get the more focused I am in my lyrics on what I want to say,” Frost explains. “Because I think what you have to say lasts a lot longer than the music. No matter what you sound like it will eventually sound dated but if what you have to say is real, you can’t really date that.”
Of course, there’s focus on fen dance beats here, too.
Like “Good Morning,” off of “Gold Rush,” Frost wanted its music video to be fun and careless. Set in a touring bus/RV with Frost dipping and diving and singing while a growing cast of marching band characters play along. It’s supposed to represent freeing imagery—which is also what he wants to bring to the live stage these days.
Folks at Bourgie Nights this Friday will see a one-man show from Frost. Just coming off his first performance at Chicago’s Lollapalooza a couple of weeks ago, he says arena shows are somewhat like skydiving; it’s a rush that’s different from a smaller, intimate club performance. But whether 200 people or 20,000 if the energy is there, it’s there.
“It depends on how everyone’s reacting,” he muses. “But I treat every performance the same.”
In fact, his show is more a spectacle than the songs. His one-man performance is also depicted in his 2016 music video for “Adderall.” At Bourgie, Frost will have a drum kit, keyboard and several different guitars on stage, and he uses a reel-to-reel tape player at multiple points. Though, he doesn’t center his live performance around looping but just enough to pull the audience in.
“It’s like a science project meets a rock show,” he describes. “It’s definitely something different that has been developed over the past couple years. And I think it’s kind of one of the cooler, more unique one-man shows that I’ve seen out there.”
Frost is already working on the next project. Though, he hasn’t had time to road test any tunes, he expects a tentative release date in September or October.
“I don’t know where I’ll go next or how much of that is the direction I’m gonna always move in,” Frost offers. “But this record [‘Gold Rush’] represents kind of a creative spiritual awakening.”