VIDEO — Singer, songwriter Max Minardi starts his first-ever tour in Ashland to support his new EP, "Beyond the Wall."
Growing up, Max Minardi didn't want anything to do with playing music.
"My mom started me on trumpet in sixth grade," Minardi says. "I was in the mindset of wanting to be cool, and 'band geek' was one of the last things I wanted to sign up for."
From there, Minardi decided to learn guitar and eventually began writing his own music.
"I figured that if I was going to play music, I should learn guitar because it was the coolest of the nerdy things," Minardi says. "My senior year of high school (in 2010), I started writing my own music."
The singer and songwriter will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Caldera Tap House, 31 Water St., Ashland. Medford's Delta Halos will open the show. There is a $5 cover.
While studying recording arts at California State University, Chico, Minardi used the knowledge gained from the classroom to self-record his first EP, "American Animal," in 2011.
"I was a full-time student, so I was doing this on my own time. It was just a low-budget recording in my apartment," Minardi says. "You could hear what's happening out in the street."
When it came time to record "Beyond the Wall," which was released on March 7, Minardi opted to use the same process, enjoying the freedom that it afforded him.
"I consider myself a songwriting hermit," Minardi says. "I like to sit down and record a skeleton of a song, move on to other things and then come back and add to it. I like being able to do that and not have to constantly watch the clock in the studio.
"I recorded ('Beyond the Wall') about the same as the first one, except I had this one professionally mastered. For what I was going for, that changed it for the better."
Minardi says that, after "American Animal," he didn't write any new music for a long time. He says that the title "Beyond the Wall" is a reference to breaking past his writer's block. "I wanted to capture what's going on with me now," Minardi says. "It has the usual singer-songwriter stuff about love and relationships, but it's also introspective and thinks about things like growing up and death. In short, it's about my life.
"It's the same story told a million times, but this time, it's about me."
Minardi cites popular singer-songwriters Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and City & Colour as his musical influences for the style of his album.
For his live show, Minardi plays solo, but says he usually employs the use of loopers and vocal harmonizers to make it sound like it's more than just him on stage.
"It's me and a guitar, and then I add stuff to build it up bigger," Minardi says. "For this tour, though, I want to try to strip it down."
"Beyond the Wall" employs this stripped-down sound. While Minardi retains the harmonized vocals, the percussion sounds on "American Animal" are nearly absent. Minardi says he wants his voice and guitar to be the focus.
Minardi is an independent musician and says he enjoys what he can do representing himself rather than being represented by a label.
"I love handling everything on my own," Minardi says. "It can be really stressful, but I get this huge sense of accomplishment.
"This is my first tour, and Ashland will be the first stop. It's been tough getting these shows booked, but I feel good about it. I like that I've been able to work out everything on my own terms."