When you say Belleville, IL, non-locals usually assume it's one of the zillion Chicago suburbs. It's far from it. Just a few miles across the Mississippi from St. Louis, it's another small, river town. In the late '70s, punk barely happened in St. Louis. Except for Max Load, it didn't even get noticed in Belleville. The river provides far more isolation between the states than one may realize. Bitter geographic rivals for no good reason. That didn't stop these guys from making a noise on their side.
Max Load was formed and began playing live shows around Belleville in 1978. They soon were playing in St. Louis as well, but they never would be treated as equals. They were often forced to play first, before much less competent bands, or dead last, when the St. Louis crowd was anxious to get to the after-party. Last often meant playing to an empty room, rather than being the coveted headlining spot. Out shining most of the Missouri bands around at the time, they released a scorching two song 45 ("X-Rod" b/w "Magazine Sex") in 1979 on their own label. It was mostly intended as a calling card to secure gigs, but some copies were sold locally and a few even distributed by Bomp! Records in CA. The band would go on to record studio demos in 1980 at the request of Epic Records and would commit countless songs to tape with their own 4-track recorder. They were also the only punk band in the area to pay attention to and be featured on the short-lived cable access TV show, Street Beat.
Although Max Load started out with a fairly traditional punk sound, by 1981 they started writing more post punk and art punk influenced material. This new direction can be heard on the included 4-track demos. Like so many other bands, they never got that record deal or big break they were hoping for. By late 1982, most members had moved on to new projects and the band was gone by 1983. It would be another ten or so years before their record would be compiled on the Killed By Death bootleg compilation series and they’d get some much deserved recognition outside the area. The 45 is now considered one of the best Midwestern punk singles of the era, and a copy with the picture sleeve is one of the rarest U.S. punk collectibles.
The Max Load release is comprised of all studio recordings from 1979-1983. The X-Rod 45 is included, along with 22 never-before-released 8-track and 4-track demos. The package includes a 14 song LP, a 24 song CD and a DVD that features a 20-song live performance, recorded for cable access TV in 1981. The CD and DVD come with a title card in a protective sleeve that's tucked inside the LP jacket, along with a double sided 11"x17" insert featuring numerous photos, gig posters and extensive liner notes.
X-Rod 1:59 (7"-A side)
Magazine Sex 2:28 (7"-B side)
Va-Va-Va Vicky 2:30 (Epic demos) (organ version)
Goin’ Out Tonight 2:28 (Epic demos)
You're A Blur 2:06 (Epic demos)
Park My Motor 2:15 (Epic demos)
Change Your Channel/Taking Over the World 4:39 (Epic demos)
Mini-Fad 0:41 (Epic demos)
French Maid 3:18 (4 track demo)
Stereo Vision 3:48 (4 track demo)
Nothing Box 2:56 (4 track demo)
Blue Green 2:33 (4 track demo)
Things Are Different 2:49 (4 track demo)
Wishing Machine 3:31 (8 track demo 1983)
CD only tracks:
Rapidly Expanding Universe 3:37 (8 track demo 1983)
Hot Rods From Hell 3:09 (4 track demo)
I Kiss Your Shadow 3:09 (4 track demo)
Machine Man 3:02 (4 track demo)
I Become Translucent 2:59 (4 track demo)
Cold Blast 2:46 (4 track demo)
Monster Disco 3:22 (4 track demo)
Zero Zone 3:02 (Wash-U synth lab c1981)
War In Tokyo 3:23 (Epic demos)
Va-Va-Va Vicky 2:30 (Epic demos) (hand claps version)
(L-R: Greg, Terry and Tony of Max Load at the YMCA)