More Culture:

October 17, 2017

Max Weinberg: 'never know when Bruce will call'

Mighty Max hit the rock stratosphere thanks to a boost by Bruce Springsteen

The Boss was impressed by the way Max Weinberg embraced his Jersey roots and his drumsticks.

Ethan Hawke, like many Bruce Springsteen fans, has stated that the Boss changed his life. The celebrated actor revealed to Vice Magazine in June that his musical perspective was altered thanks to a Springsteen show in New Jersey a generation ago.

RELATED READS: Max Weinberg: thundering till the end | Roger McGuinn of the Byrds remembers Tom Petty | YouTube made us famous! How Jake Miller and Jacob Sartorius got their start

Singer-songwriters Brandon Flowers of The Killers, Jesse Malin and The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn have echoed Hawke’s words.

However, Springsteen truly altered the life of drummer Max Weinberg. 

“When I met Bruce Springsteen in August of 1974, he asked me where I was from. Back then, if you were a musician and you lived close to New York and you were asked where you were from, most guys said, ‘New York.’ But I told Bruce I was from New Jersey and he had a smile on his face and quietly said, ‘That’s good.’"

Weinberg, a Newark native, who is proud of his Garden State roots, will perform tonight at World Cafe Live with his band and he’ll also spin some yarns. 

“I’ve experienced a lot over the years, Weinberg says. “I don’t mind talking about it as long as I get to play drums too.”

Weinberg will play percussion with his band. Max Weinberg’s Jukebox will perform requests. The audience will make a playlist from more than 400 of Weinberg’s favorite rock songs. Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Dave Biglin of the pop-rock act the Weeklings are part of the Jukebox.

“This show is designed so that we can connect with the crowd,” Weinberg said. 

“We play for an hour and a half. People just yell out the songs and play the songs. It’s a party more than a concert.”

It’s been a party for most of Weinberg’s life. 

“So much of that has to do with Bruce,” Weinberg said. 

“Being part of the E Street Band was the best thing that ever happened to me. The only thing is that once we commit to something, it’s difficult to do anything else.”

With Weinberg’s Boss on Broadway for the next few months, he has some time to do his own thing. 

“I know I have this little window and I’m making the most of it,” Weinberg said. “You never know when Bruce will call.”

Weinberg will receive a communique from Springsteen and learns when and where he’ll be performing for the next year or so.

I’ve become smarter. I don’t hold my sticks tightly like I did when I was young.”

“That’s how it goes,” Weinberg says. “Bruce will call and he typically doesn’t give much notice. It’s fine because I always want to play with him.”

It’s remarkable that after years of marathon shows with Springsteen that Weinberg’s body can still deal with the demanding rigors of rock.

“What I do is demanding,” Weinberg said. “My body has somehow adapted to the stress of performance. I’ve been at this for a long time and I’ve learned things while doing this for 43 years. I’ve become smarter. I don’t hold my sticks tightly like I did when I was young.”

The drumming legacy has been passed on to Jay Weinberg, who sports a mask while delivering thrash-metal with Slipknot.

“So many people assume that I pushed my son into being a drummer,” Weinberg said. 

“That’s not true, but he absolutely loves it and I get it. It’s worked out since Slipknot was his favorite band when he as a kid. I remember taking him to see Slipknot at Ozzfest in Jersey years ago. He learned to play drums by listening to Metallica, Slipknot and Lamb of God records. How cool is it that he’s in Slipknot? I couldn’t be prouder.”

Slipknot is very different than Weinberg’s E Street Band, but Mighty Max claims he loves the intense, hard rock.

“I do enjoy it,” Weinberg says. “I liked heavy rock when I was growing up. I would listen to Vanilla Fudge. The elements are the same. Bands like Slipknot prove that rock is alive and well. I love it and that’s why I’m on this tour playing favorites.”

Max Weinberg's Jukebox appears Tuesday, Oct. 17 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Tickets are $45 and $55. Show time is 8 p.m. For more information, call 215-222-1400 or click here