Max Gruber is Drangsal, though the man and his persona are so nervous that their turmoil makes them melt into one. Max rarely sleeps, he works restlessly on his music, day and night. He doesn’t dream, but his days are satiate with fantasies. “Seid lieb zu uns, wir sind noch Kinder” –Be kind to us, we are only children–, pleads the mastermind into his microphone, at once delicate and brutal at heart. The concert is sold out – and the crowd is not just kind, they are euphoric. Even though there are only a few demos so far. This young guy has got charm, that’s for sure – his entrance promises a spectacle, and his energy lives up to that. Harieschaim, the 22-year-old’s first album, is a succession of fast, pumped pop songs – let’s say: a pop prodigy? –, no breathing space, the referential decade of the 80s gets run down and broken.
Harieschaim, today’s Herxheim, is a strange village too – Max’s birth place, to be exact. Nowhere else in Germany has cannibalism existed as long as here, in the nearby place Hinterkaifeck an entire family was murdered, naturally distant relatives from Max’s family tree. But Herxheim is where it all began: His father owned a pub, recorded mixtapes for it, played them to his boy in the car. The child became so addicted to the often English music that he would soon express himself bilingually. A popcultural childhood. At age 5 Max watched MTV with his parents, got lost in Marilyn Manson’s The Dope Show. That was when he knew: I want to be something like that, somehow. A weirdo. At least when puberty had hit, he realised he already was one. But you might just as well call him a character. Now it was up to the determined youngster to find shapes for his diffuse being. And all of that in a little village in Germany’s deeply Catholic southwest! It was a school of hard knocks for Max: “Either I’ll let them beat me up in the break, or I’ll paint my fingernails an even brighter colour”.