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Maximillian Colby

Maximillian Colby was one of those bands you never heard of but whose importance can't be overstated, one of those rare, mythical bands that exists for a matter of months and leaves behind almost no recorded output, yet captures the fancy of an entire regional music scene and influences the music of a few bands you probably have heard of. The Virginia quartet formed at James Madison University and instantly distinguished themselves in their local Harrisburg with a clamorous, grand style of precise arty punk built around intricate, constantly shifting compositions. Their music bridged the divide between the dark, spidery, minor-key guitar theatrics of Slint and the aggressive but sophisticated histrionics of the San Diego school of early '90s punk represented by bands like Antioch Arrow. Max Colby's songs constantly rise and fall, build and diminish, moving from tense instrumental passages marked by sharp dual guitar figures to raw, ferocious explosions of ragged hardcore, and then back again, as if shaped by a conscious desire to evoke shadowy shapes with the music -- peaks, towers, battlements.

The group released its first seven-inch on Washington DC's Nervous Wreck Kids in 1994. A couple of compilation tracks followed, a split seven-inch with Rye Coalition, and then a seminal split 12-inch with their colleagues from the north, Ottawa's Shotmaker. But in 1995, bassist Bob Baynor passed away and Max Colby disbanded. Guitarist Drew Ringo already had another band going at this point called Sleepytime Trio and soon guitarist Dave Nesmith joined up too. Nesmith would later go on to play in the Rah Bras and Bats and Mice. In 2002 Lovitt revived Maximillian Colby's legacy by re-releasing all of the band's recorded output, plus demos and practice material, under the simple title Discography. It provides a snapshot not only of a great band, but of a certain moment in the evolution of the punk and hardcore scenes when bands began to approach composition in far more complex and interesting ways, while still rocking like there was no tomorrow.