The PA-based outlaw country rockers Ma'aM are back today with their new 7" "Naughty" / "American Ruse." The A-side is an original honky-tonk protest song and ode to the end of the world, while the B-side is an amped up and fuzzed out version of the MC5 classic. Along with the premiere, we spoke with Ma'aM guitarist-vocalist Tiger Cabus about his band's origins, being a live band first, and their future LP.
When Ma'aM co-founders Raeli Rose and Tiger Cabus headed to California on a cross-country road trip, they weren't expecting to come back to Pennsylvania to start a band. Since forming in 2019, Ma'aM have expanded into a rope-spinning six-piece with the addition of guitarist Jeremy Mertz, drummer Spencer McKee, bassist-trumpeter Daniel "Old Horn" Thomas, and harpist "Nate Quickdraw" Cutshall. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Gus Tristch also plays various instruments when's he's available. With this posse, Ma'aM evokes a rip-roaring good time with their own unique style that blends their hard-hiting garage-punk with outlaw country and misfit rock 'n' roll.
The outlaw country rockers Ma'aM returned today with their new 7" "Naughty" / "American Ruse." The A-side is an original honky-tonk protest song and ode to the end of the world, while the B-side is an amped up and fuzzed out version of the MC5 classic. Along with the premiere, we spoke with Ma'aM guitarist-vocalist Tiger Cabus about his band's origins, being a live band first, and their future LP.
Paperface Zine: Take me through the lineup of Ma'aM What's something special that each member brings to the table?
Tiger Cabus: We got a big crew in Ma'aM. We run as a six-piece the majority of our time with some aux members here and there. Everyone is in Ma'aM until they're kicked out! Raeli Rose and I are the main songwriters in the band, we also both sing and play guitar. Jeremy Mertz rocks the bass guitar, sings/writes also plays guitar on "American Ruse." We got "Two Hands" Daniel "Old Horn" Thomas on bass trumpet, keys and bass on "American Ruse." Nate "Quickdraw" Cuthshall rips it up on the harp, keys, tambo, bullhorn and backing vocals. Spencer McKee is our beat man holding down the kit better than Bonham ever could (oops)... and last but not least, we got Gus Tristch on baritone guitar, fiddle, pedal steel, guitar, mandolin and anything else he feels like mastering in day. He's got an open spot in the band when he's not traveling the world in other various bands and endeavors. This is the most consistent and tight Ma'aM lineup to date! Everyone brings a lot of musical muscle to the table as well as simply just being friends and being down to hang out. We gig and travel a lot and friendship is really a huge foundation for that. We all definitely wouldn't be doing this if we hated each other! [laughing].
PZ: This is one big crew you got! How did you and Araelia meet?
TC: So a lot of us grew up together and played music in or around the State College area in Pennsylvania, which where we all live now. BUT I came into the picture when I met Araelia the summer of 2018 through our friend and main photographer in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where I'm originally from. The three of us went on a cross-country road trip to California in a '95 GMC Vandura a week later. Raeli and I started playing music together and shared an interest in writing country music. We started writing songs and decided to start Ma'aM. She moved me back to Pennsylvania in January of 2019 and we quickly formed a band of folks she already knew. We hit the road almost immediately and kept going through different lineup changes until we wrangled the ruffians we have now!
PZ: Following last year's single "Upside Down Room," you're back today with your new 7" "Naughty" / "American Ruse" through Nudie Records. How did the A-side come about and what was it like putting this release together?
TC: In May of 2021 we formed a relationship with a new studio out in our neck of the woods called 145 Recording run by Dave Bielanko. He needed a guinea pig band to test the studio and in return we'd get to record an album. We quickly started recording all of our songs new and old in an almost an archive sense with no real deadline in place. Both "Upside Down Room" and "Naughty" were written by Raeli years apart from each other. "Naughty" made sense as the next release, its got a real kick to it and we play it every show. We did decide to record it with a different arrangement than our standard live version. We added the baritone for a real twangy Don Rich angle to push this sort of "hot doggin" honky-tonk feel to pair with the lyrical message of the song in a progressive country sort of way… this ain't no "okie from muskogee" country song ya know?
PZ: The B-side is an amped up cover of MC5's classic "American Ruse." What inspired you guys to cover that?
TC: I think Jeremy originally brought it up when we were asked to play a BLM street protest in State College. It's an amazing song. The words ring louder than ever even 50 years after the song was written. Music can still change the way people think and if you're onstage with a microphone say something worth saying. Once we decided Naughty was our next release "American Ruse" was the obvious pairing.
PZ: We were lucky to catch your performance at Lux in Rochester last summer with Sweet Pete. What do you enjoy most about playing live shows and do you have any coming up?
TC: Ma'aM lives to play! We're a live band first and we've just always made it our MO to go out and get in front of people. That Lux gig was a high light for us 100%! The energy was amazing people were dancing, drinks were flowing, it was a perfect night! Hope to come back in the new year and do it all over again. We've got some gigs coming up too! We got one on December 3rd in State College with Troy Glam Rockers Flavour and our good buddy and rock 'n' roll engineer McKinley Yarrington at Webster's Cafe. Also a big fun one…we play Pet Shop in Jersey City on New Year's Eve with Sweet Pete, Old Lady, The Von Mons, Djs Toddophonic Todd & Dave Feldman! And there's always more in the works, but that's what we've got for sure right now.
PZ: Hopefully you can come back here! Flavour rolls through Lux next Friday with Aweful Kanawful which will be a great time! So tell me what's next on your guys' radar aside from shows. Is this new single leading up to an EP or full-length?
TC: After this release, we got at least one more single then an album! Now that I've said it here we got to make it happen [laughing]. Hold us to it! Keep your ears peeled and your eyes open!! Ma'aM is coming to a town near you in the near distant future!!!
"Naughty" / "American Ruse" is out now through Nudie Records. Check it out here.