Max Easton is a writer from Sydney. His work has appeared in Mess+Noise, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin and Sydney Review of Books. He is the creator of BARELY HUMAN, a zine and podcast series exploring underground music’s ties to counterculture and subculture. His first novel, THE MAGPIE WING (2021), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and his second, PARADISE ESTATE, (2023) is out now through Giramondo.
(From Giramondo): "It’s 2022 and Helen is starting again. Newly single, dogged by grief, adrift in a hostile rental market, she finds a four-bedroom house flanked by apartment blocks that stare into the yard. Despite the lack of privacy, she fills its rooms with an unlikely group of residents looking for communal belonging: zine maker, activist, disaffected artist, part-time rugby league player – each looking to build a future, each haunted by their recent past. But if a rented house in Sydney could ever promise salvation, it would come with a coating of black mould."
(From Giramondo): Helen, Walt and Duncan are looking for ways to entertain themselves in the sprawl of Sydney’s western suburbs. Walt, scrappy and idealistic, wants to prove a point and turns to petty vandalism. His friend Duncan is committed to his fledgling football career, and seeks out sexual encounters in unfamiliar houses. Walt’s sister Helen, in search of something larger than herself, is forced by scandal to leave the family home. As they move into adulthood they gravitate to the dingy glamour of the inner-city suburbs, looking to escape their families’ complicated histories, and to find new identities, artistic, sexual and political.
- Longlisted (2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award)
- 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, Getting Lit Pod.
Barely Human is an underground music anti-history focusing on the evolution of the independent, DIY ethic from sixties counterculture to contemporary subculture. Beginning as a zine series in 2016 (issues on Randy Newman, Butthole Surfers, Country Teasers and Low Life), it was adapted into a documentary style podcast in 2020, expanding to twenty-four music groups of declining renown. The project continues via intermittent zines and cassette tapes discussing elements of underground music culture. Volume 1 (2021) included zine+tape packages on Folk 'n' Country, David Allan Coe, Negativland, CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea and The Bands of Ron House. Volume 2 (2023) included discussions on Dead Moon & Wipers; Philistinism via No Trend, Flipper, Urinals & Crucifucks; Dead Kennedys & The Fall. Follow Barely Human on the mebarelyhuman substack.
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."
Snake and Friends Review: Scenius and the lens of collective contribution - Difficult Fun, 2018
"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."
Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys & Sex Tourists Review: Experiencing adult fantasies in disappearing towns - Difficult Fun, 2018
"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."
+++EDITOR___TEMPERED MUSIC JOURNAL
Tempered was a collaborative journal featuring contributions by members of Australia's underground music communities. Compiled and edited by Max Easton, designed by Daryl Prondoso and published by MoodWar and Meatspin Prints, it offers insights into the outsider mentality of backwater Australian music. 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.
Previous band projects include...
- 'Crawl Back In' Digital LP (Coming 2023)
- 'Winter Tape' (2019)
- 'First Steps' Tape (2019)
- 'Seven Inches of...' 7" EP
- 'Adult Baby' 7" (2019)
- 'Cassette' Tape (2018)
- 'The Sickness Tapes' (2022)
- 'Shame Job' LP (2018)
- Demo Tape (2017)
- S/T Cassingle (2015)
- Double B-Side 7" (2015)