CRUSIN' Maxx Cabello performs October 13 at the Blank Club.
Trying to pin down Maxx Cabello Jr.’s sound is no easy task. Even he can’t do it. So when he decided to start working recently on his album Love and War, he saw no other way to capture all his different styles than to make a double album with 32 songs.
“I know it seems crazy, but I have so much music,” says Cabello, who performs at the Blank Club on October 13. “I want to give somebody an album that they’re going to have at least one song on it that they’ll really love. It gives everyone an option, whether you like blues, rock & roll, soul, Latin music or a hip-hop feel. I want everyone to feel my music.”
The album is tentatively scheduled to come out next March. As the title suggests, it will showcase his tender love songs, as well as the heavier, darker material.
In order to complete the weighty task of producing a double album, Cabello has been recording a little bit at a time. When one song is ready, he’ll take it up to Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and record it from start to finish. In some cases—like with the Curtis Mayfield-inspired soul song “My Love”—not only has he finished the track, he’s already made a video and released it on YouTube.
This pace of recording will not only give each song a distinct texture, it will also allow him to put his all into each song, he says.
“If you pull all your creativity out at once, it gets watered down,” Cabello says. “When you let it flow naturally, it’s so much more beautiful. It gives it a chance to breath. You know when a song is done when it’s perfect to you. That’s how long it takes.”
Despite all the different styles of music Cabello play—Santana Latin rock, Chuck Berry rock & roll, 1970s classic sou—it all comes back to the blues. The raw emotion in the blues spoke to him the first time he heard it, which was back in high school. His neighbor (and mentor) Jerry Rubalcaba introduced the genre via a mixtape of blues classics. From then on, the blues would shape how Cabello approaches music.
“The blues is so simple, but it’s really cool and deep,” he says. “You cannot imitate the blues if you ain’t got that soul. It gave me the foundation I needed for music.”
Cabello’s connection to the blues probably explains why, despite his young age, he often gets labeled an “old soul.” The music he loves tends to go back to the pre-digital era, back when early rock and soul were all done with live bands, and audiences expected raw, honest, energetic performances.