“We didn’t care that ska was ‘dead’ 10 years ago and we don’t care now.” That’s the way Be Like Max starts—and ends—its biography. Ska is the band’s lifeblood, simple as that.
The Vegas five-piece started five years ago and has seen a handful of members come and go, but its current lineup is assuredly stable. On a Saturday morning, I meet Charley Fine (vocals), Stephen Anongthep (trombone) and Austin Tegtmeier (bass) at their Henderson home, which is covered by faux cobwebs for an impressive Halloween display. Absent are the band’s other two members, guitarist Chris Powers and drummer Preston Harper.
All in their 20s, the members of Be Like Max approach music differently than most bands in town. They refuse to play shows that aren’t all-ages, which has made landing local gigs difficult. It’s also built them a loyal following. “We all grew up going to shows. That’s a big part of someone’s life when they’re a minor,” Fine says. “It’s pretty influential.”
The guys already have two LPs under their belts and just finished up their first U.S. tour, 26 shows in 26 days. This week they’ll head back out for another five-week coast-to-coast tour, which includes a key hometown gig: an October 24 release show for third album Against All Odds, at Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel. “That’s pretty big for us right now,” Tegtmeier says. “On a weekend in Vegas? It’s crazy.”
The new album focuses on the band’s tough-as-nails work ethic and the harsh realities of growing up in Vegas. It’s all there on the lead single, “Sin City Rude Kids.” But the city has rewarded Be Like Max’s hustle, and has allowed them to do what they’ve loved so far. “We can make easy money [here], we have cheap rent and a lot of cities are close to us that we can tour to,” Fine says. The all-ages scene also tends to support ska and reggae bands—like The CG’s and Drinking Water, who are also on the bill for the album-release show.
“We take that sh*t seriously, because we’re pretty much shut out from the industry and bigger bands,” Fine says. “We built our following from the underground … and that’s pretty rad.”
Be Like Max Release party with The Holophonics, Anti-Vision, Drinking Water, The CG’s. October 24, 6 p.m., $10. Vinyl, 702-693-5000.