Max Loebman and the Mild Ones

chicago diy max and the mild ones rocknroll yoko and the oh no's

Loebman and his Guitar
Photo by Alexandria Dravillas

A dopey-eyed, shaggy-haired Max Loebman howls into a microphone, hugging it toward his body as one would a lover. The room is packed, the crowd, rowdy, skin against skin. The type of show where the music feels real enough to touch.

All of the songs on Loebman’s new album Wild One are completely composed of demos. “I like things to be as fresh as possible," says Max. "That’s why I record them directly after I write them. I think that’s why I like Neil Young so much; his stuff is so raw.”

Since the age of 16, Loebeman has been a part of Yoko and the Oh No’s alongside original members Stef Roti and Max Goldstein. Loebman started Max and the Mild Ones as an outlet for a number of songs that didn’t work with Yoko and the Oh No’s. While the music of Yoko and the Oh No’s is soulful and definitely punk influenced, this new project is softer, more "poppy" and mostly recorded in Loebman’s parents' basement.  

Stef Roti on the drums 
photo by Tim Nagle

Max and the Mild Ones is a five-person group featuring a mix of members from several prominent Chicago bands including Loebman, Stef Roti on drums (Yoko and the Oh No’s), Joe Bordenaro on guitar, keys, and vocals (The Late Bloomers), Dimitri Panoutsos (Gal Gun, Barking Cat) on guitar, and Paul Ansani on bass and vocals (Evening Attraction).

Max and the Mild Ones
photo by Tim Nagle

Loebman says his main guitar influence is Neil Young, followed by Keith Richards, David Bowie, and the Beatles. These influences shine through in a dreamy freshness, giving new life to these old sounds. Whimsy and nostalgia mark tracks like "Wild One," while melancholy and a tinge of angst as well as anger dominate songs like "Elephant Dream" or "Busted." Loebman manages to transform the music he was raised on into something new and refreshing.

Max and the Mild Ones
Photo by Alexandria Dravillas

Max grew up in Grayslake on the border between Wisconsin and Illinois, moving to Chicago a few years ago for college. He's been coming to the city with his first band, The New Originals, since he was 16 to play venues. “When I was 16, my band began to play venues in the city more and more, and restaurants and teen centers in the suburbs less and less,” says Loebman, “I love playing live; the best shows are those in which the crowd is just as passionate about the music as you are. I like playing music that I know people will listen to so I don’t feel like I’m entertaining myself, although I don’t mind doing that either.”

Listening to Loebman’s music transports me back to a time when my father slid a CD into our car’s CD player and nodded his head as he drove us around. For me, Max and The Mild Ones is dad music for the coolest of dads: music for the generation that taught us to love music.

Max and the Mild Ones
Photo by Alexandria Dravillas

The last show I saw Max and the Mild Ones play was at a now-defunct DIY on the second floor of a rickety building in Wicker Park. Opening for Modern Vices, The Mild Ones played on a small raised platform with the crowd pressed close. It seemed as if the band was levitating above the audience, swaying, pushing and blowing smoke into each other's hair. Loebman howled while Roti bashed her drums along with the music, causing the room to rhythmically pulsate. For a brief moment, with all of the sound, movement, jumping, and stomping, I feared that the floor would cave in as it breathed with us. And when the show was over, we streamed out into the late night city streets, overcome with that familiar awestruck glow that washes over after a brilliant show.

Interview and writing by Elizabeth Meyer

Listen to their single "Wild One" and scoop up the vinyl here.

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