Max Newy of Overpass: ‘The people make Birmingham. It’s a down-to-earth city that keeps you grounded’

Overpass band

For Max Newy and his fellow Brummie bandmates, Overpass is the musical highway none of them thought they’d be taking when they started dabbling during jam sessions in Digbeth’s Muthers rehearsal studios.

Now, at just age 20, the group are set to perform their first headline show at Birmingham’s 1,500-capacity venue The O2 Institute. For a band yet to release their first EP, it’s quite the achievement, but none too surprising when you get to hear the calm determination Max and the band have cultivated over the years.

We were granted the pleasure of chatting to Max about how their different personalities keep the peace between them, the city they call home and its inhabitants, the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, and taking life as it comes.

Hi Max, could you tell us about the Overpass origin story? How did you all come together?

It’s been a whirlwind, to be honest. It feels like such a short amount of time that we’ve been together, although it’s been a full three years. I suppose that might be something to do with Covid. We formed in January 2020, aiming to go in all guns blazing, but then we were put away! On the bright side, during lockdown we wrote all our songs.

But it goes even further than that. If we hadn’t had lockdown, we’d probably have all gone our separate ways and done our own things, because we were all in college.

What kind of traction were you enjoying in terms of online engagement and plays before things started kicking off and you were approached by your label?

We actually didn’t have a whole lot of plays. We had these songs that we put out onto TikTok, which was exploding during lockdown, and when we got lots of reaction from those we kind of just hammered that home, particularly ‘One Night Lover’. That then gave us good leverage with social media.

We then recorded that song and were asked to support another Birmingham band, The Clause, live. That’s where we met our team, they were the ones promoting the show, and we’ve been with them ever since. They managed us, got us some good gigs, and we really felt like we were in the right place at the right time.

Do you think you’ll always be based in Birmingham or have you been tempted to move down to London at some point?

It’s that classic thing, isn’t it? If you want to do ‘the music’ you’ve got to move to London, but I honestly can’t see myself down there at all. Life moves too fast in that city. Plus, we like Birmingham! It’s the people here that make it. They’re hard-working people with integrity, a sense of humour. It’s a down-to-earth city that keeps you grounded.

As a band we’ve been rehearsing in the same Digbeth studios for years, it’s called Muthers. And some of us are still at uni too so it’s good to be based in the same place whilst others are studying. I was at uni as well but it all got a bit too much, too hard to juggle. The rest of them manage well though! I don’t know how Indie (bassist) does it – and she’s doing a proper degree!

We’re always interested to hear about songwriters’ inspirations outside music. What are some of your literary, artistic, or film interests?

I’ve recently gotten into old Irish literature – I borrowed a few books off my nan including Flann O’Brien and Patrick Kavanagh. I had no idea Luke Kelly had been given ‘On Raglan Road’ from Kavanagh!

You’ll often hear Grian from Fontaines talking about how important this type of poetry is to him. It’s all part of improving our lyricism, really.

And what about music inspirations? How did your differing inspirations as a band come together and feed into Overpass’s songwriting?

At the start we were all different in our tastes, but after spending so much time together, time spent on the road, in rehearsals, you realise your tastes begin to blend into one. With our new EP especially, we were listening to Parachutes, the first Coldplay album, a lot of Jeff Buckley, contrast that with our tastes at the start: Wombats, Two Door Cinema Club, and you can see how we evolved together.

And there’s always going to be overlap. It’s impossible to come up with something completely original. There are always going to be influences. We’ve had so many different inputs for our new EP and drew from many different sources. You can definitely hear what we’ve been listening to whilst we wrote it, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Photo credit: Sam Crowston

Your new producer, Rich Turvey, has worked with so many big names: Courteeners, Blossoms, The Coral. What was that like being in the studio with him?

We’ve always wanted to work with Rich. He’s made loads of our favourite records so we were both nervous and excited. I went up recently to write with him, something I’d never done before, meeting up to write with a producer. You learn so much, it really is a waiting game, like fishing, you honestly just have to sit there and wait. And we did, and we wrote two songs over two days. The idea’s just to flesh out at the start: get your melody, get your chorus, then finish the lyrics before recording a demo.

Often, bands find that each individual member serves a certain role in bringing harmony to the group. Who fills what role in your gang?

Indie’s the boss. The leader. She’s always calm and composed. I’m the stresshead, although there’s often, refreshingly, a fine line between stressing and then letting yourself just letting go of it all because you realise it’s ridiculous to be so anxious all the time. Elliot’s the joker. He makes us all laugh and has about 101 things on his mind at all times, bouncing from one thing to the other. Jake’s the peacekeeper, always keeping up morale, making sure if we’ve had a disagreement that everyone’s back together in the end, usually by cracking a joke at the times when everyone’s most tired and fed up to bring us back and keep our spirits up.

Photo credit: Sam McGill

Keep up to date with the best in UK music by following us on Instagram: @whynowworld and on Twitter/X: @whynowworld

Leave a Reply

More like this