Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, John. You've been a part of the Chicago music scene for quite some time now. But folks may or may not know you're also a chef! How many years have you been cooking?
John Maxwell: Ever since I realized my mom was a pretty bad cook, so for a very long time. I'm old (looks for walker and hearing aid)!
CM: You work with London Calling as a personal/private chef. Is LC your own company? And can you give us a little history on LC?
JM: Well if by company, you mean one guy (me), then yes, it sure is. Actually, I have other chef friends that can come into the fold should things get too big or out of control. Basically, this started as a concept for a take away restaurant, but has become a private or personal in home service.
CM: Do you find it more enjoyable cooking as opposed to playing music? Or is there an even balance between both?
JM: Well, I suppose there are some similarities between the two. I always played music because I enjoyed it and was under no illusions there would be some big payday. Basically I never had any aspirations toward commercial success and tried to distance myself from playing with anyone that did. Cooking can be similar. Lots of chefs suffer for their craft/art, just like music. There's plenty of outcasts in both circles as well, isn't there? The key difference for me is although I love cooking, it's a livelihood and frankly I do aspire to make money. Whereas I'd never "go corporate" with music, I have in fact created recipes for Ore Ida, Kraft and a few other large companies.
CM: You were the original guitarist for The Bomb, playing on the first 2 releases ("Arming..." & "Torch Songs"). What was it like being in a band with Jeff Pezzati?
JM: It was funny. I remember seeing an ad for Lounge Ax mentioning that Jeff was DJ-ing on like a Thursday night or something, and I remember NR hadn't done anything in quite a while either. Anyway, we knew each other from when I was in The Mangos. I'd come to Chicago while still living in Detroit and hang out with him and drink beer and stuff. Anyway, I figured I'd go see what he was up to. I think I was there for like15 minutes and Jeff mentioned we should start a band. He had a drummer (Paul Garcia) already in mind and some songs written. A few weeks later we were making noise at Paul's place. Jeff was excellent at getting shit done early on. Right away we went to Electrical and made the ...arming EP and not long after that came Torch Songs. Those were good times, and we played a lot of good shows and I got to meet some kick ass people like Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian (Damned) and Exene, Billy Zoom, John Doe and DJ from X. Grant Hart was an amiable and strange guy. I think he bought us shots and when I asked where his shot was or what it was he said he gave up drinking-but liked watching us drink-weird. I thought Henry-Hank Garfield-Rollins was pretty full of shit. He was rude to everyone but me, which I thought was odd. His band featured all the horseshit cock rock riffs you've worked so hard to forget coupled with leather cowboy hats and pants. It was fucking laughable. Also, Rollins was ranting about how someone the night before stole his trademark black gym shorts. I think he sent an intern from Metro over to Sport Mart with $10 and instructed him to jerk off on it so it would look just like the pair someone stole. I also met my future son and fellow rocket scientist Steev Custer when he assumed bass duties with us. He's been a model son, more than I ever hoped for really! At any rate, after three years or so I thought the band had run its course and that was it for me.
CM: Why did you leave the band after the "Torch Songs" tour?
JM: Please refer to question one. Wait, I shouldn't blame it on my mom, should I? Nah Chris, I think people were really hoping The Bomb was gonna be Naked Raygun part two and I don't think any of us wanted that. Also, it just wasn't as much fun any longer. It's OK, these things happen and I felt like I had my share of good times.
CM: You were born in Michigan and have played in bands there before moving to Chicago, namely The Mangos. How many releases did The Mangos put out?
JM: Two seven inches and a cut on It Came From The Garage, a compilation of Detroit bands. I fucking loved that band. If those guys lived here I would reform that group in a heartbeat. Seriously, we had a great time and we had great songs. I miss it!
CM: Are any of these still in print?
JM: I think It Came From The Garage might be. The 7"s are outta print but there is a Mangos FB page with tunes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mangos/56122641896?ref=ts
CM: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former bandmates?
JM: Sure, that's the beauty of Facebook, isn't it? Also, I'm hoping to attend Custer's birthday and tell him what a great son he's been too.
CM: What made you wanna move to Chicago?
JM: My pal Mike had moved here and when I'd come and visit I thought I'd make the move and see what would happen. I love living in Chicago!
CM: Are there any new musical projects in the works for you?
JM: Nope, but I'm open to suggestions-and a shoe box fulla hundred dollar bills.
CM: How can folks get in touch with you, for either your cooking or musical skills?
JM: Check out the London Calling FB page, I can be reached there: https://www.facebook.com/pages/London-Calling-PersonalPrivate-Chef/219802058057540
CM: Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass, John. I hope to see you out at a show sometime soon. It's been way too long.
JM: Thanks man, you too!