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(Photo: Nash Ferguson)

Max Easton is a writer from south west Sydney whose work has appeared in publications including Mess+Noise, Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, Science for the PeopleVICE and The Lifted Brow. He is the creator and host of the underground music podcast and zine series Barely Human, and author of The Magpie Wing (a novel out now through Giramondo Books.) He is a former research scientist and rugby league player, and plays in the Sydney punk bands BB & the Blips, The Baby, Basic Human and Romance. 

Max's work circles the social potential of collectivising, the DIY community ethic, and sociopolitical histories from outside the boundaries of industries and institutions. His current writing and research interests include the labour history of rugby league and forgotten stories of underground music.

+++++++++++ MAJOR PROJECTS 

The Magpie Wing (A Novel) - Giramondo Books, September 2021

Publisher's Blurb: The Magpie Wing is set on football fields, at punk gigs, and in dilapidated and gentrifying pubs, moving from the nineties to the present, and between the suburbs and the inner city. Max Easton’s debut novel explores how, even in a city divided against itself, disparate communities – underground music scenes, rugby league clubs, communist splinter groups – share unexpected roots.

Highly Commended (2022 UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing). 

Podcast interviews discussing the book: Beyond the Zero, The Rugby League Digest, The Write Way, Progressive Rugby League, Final Draft


Barely Human (2020 Podcast and Ongoing Zine Series)

Barely Human was a narrative-driven podcast series launched in January 2020, discussing a number of forgotten and footnoted musicians of underground music history. It followed a thread from sixties counter-culture to contemporary sub-culture. From hippies and punks to the age of obscurity, it asks how we got here, what any of that meant and how it might inform the underground music to come.


While the podcast series ended in April 2020, the project continues via a series of typewritten zines and bootleg cassette tapes. 

TEMPERED was a collaborative arts journal that charted the outsider mentality of backwater Australian music. Compiled and edited by myself, designed by Daryl Prondoso and published by MoodWar, it offered perspective from those who contributed to Australia’s underground music communities with a tone both loving and critical. Themes included space, gender, class, autonomy and relocation, providing a window into what drives local underground art, and declaring a space from which to improve it. The first volume (2015) is out of print, while the second volume (2018) is available in limited quantities here: Volume II Available Now

+++++++++++ ESSAYS / NON-FICTION +++++++++++

My essay and feature writing has appeared in publications including Sydney Review of BooksMeanjinThe Lifted BrowThe Big IssueMess+Noise, Vice, SwamplandDifficult Fun and Crawlspace. While much of this has been lost to online turnover, some available features are linked below:

Can the Magpie Speak? - Sydney Review of Books, 2021
"Whenever I try to link these kinds of events together, I hear this great big voice telling me it’s a conspiracy, that I’m cherry-picking factoids to prove a point; that I’m spouting ‘tremendous bullshit’ in linking the history of my lost rugby league club to timely events that suit the publication deadline of this essay."

One For the Indebted Class - Meanjin, 2021
"The broader political project of the creditor class becomes clearer when reading between the lines of debt history, thus revealing the link between contemporary Australian debt traps and the historical crises of sovereign debt abroad—an increase in indebtedness proves to be remarkably good for economic growth."

After the Charcoal Economy: Australia and the Green New Deal - Sydney Review of Books, 2020
"If we were to be so bold as to draw a line back to a point where anthropogenic climate change was not in effect, Australia finds itself at a time before the invasion and colonisation of Aboriginal land, before the construction of financial markets and pollutive industry: and if colonisation and capitalism were the starting points for the long curve to where we sit today (on an island that was on fire for six months), then surely we can see a burning case for spinning back the dial."

"While an individual can often foster a sense of community (and in the case of remarkable figures, can even draw attention to it), the notion of individual art ignores the world that helped build it."

"The narrative thread of why Sydney (and cities like it) might be disappearing are already storied and beginning to tire, but there are frayed ends I like to follow. I tend to think less about state planning legislation and more about why the city’s young punks turned in their drum kits and embraced the drum machine."

+++++++++++ MUSIC  +++++++++++
Projects dead and alive below!
- Adult Baby 7" (2019)
- Cassette Tape (2018)

"BASIC HUMAN are a rock band. Featuring members of Sydney outfits CALL COMPATIBLE, MUM, THE BABY and PHONE (among many other projects including BB & The Blips, Dry Finish, Family, Onani and more), they bring together a set of disparate influences to land somewhere on the punk/psych/rock continuum. They're structurally experimental, work in the depths of repetition and worship the ring out."

- LP (Coming 2022)
- First Steps Tape (2019)
- Winter Tape (2019)

"You gotta hear THE BABY! Comparisons to Urinals and early releases by The Fall don't really capture their wonky approach to post-punk, but this live tape might. Members of BB & the Blips, Bed Wettin' Bad Boys, V.I.P.P. and Photogenic pick up instruments they're unfamiliar with to record straight to a microphone or telephone. Featuring Lucy, Sabina, Max, Ben and fronted by everyone's friend Ravi, the live tape captures the Sydney band's strange early stages."

Romance (guitar)
- Recordings coming 2022
- Shame Job LP (2018)
- US/Canada Tour 2018
- Demo Tape (2017)

"Australia is a violent invention. BB AND THE BLIPS formed in 2017 in Sydney on the land of the Gadigal-Wangal people of the Eora Nation and their debut record Shame Job is a whipsmart retort to the insidious and complacent “she’ll be right” mentality fomented in the so-called Lucky Country. A ten song investigation into the uses and abuses of shame in various contexts, from nations and prisons to family and sex, these ten perfectly punk packages burst forth from the meeting point of first wave Sydney bands like TACTICS or THOUGHT CRIMINALS and the caustic anarcho genius of early CRASS. Featuring members of GOOD THROB, SEMI and HOUSEWIVES, this vinyl debut is out in time to support the BLIPS on their upcoming North American tour."
- Tape (2015)

Frustrated punk-rock with synth from Sydney, Australia featuring members Tristan Price (Angie, Roamin' Catholics), Greg Clennar (Romance, Display Homes), Max Easton (Basic Human, Point Being) & Del Lumanta (Video Ezy, Basic Human, Gas, Skyline).

- 7" (2015)

+++++++++++ SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH +++++++++++

Though now retired as a scientist in favour of writing projects, I worked as a Chemist and Research Scientist between 2010 and 2018 (PhD Research Scientist at University of Sydney, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at McGill University, Montreal Canada), specialising in the fields of Green Chemistry, Ionic Liquids and Battery Science. Here are some quick highlights from that period:


Contact me any time: email | twitter