Max Stern fronts the bands Signals Midwest and Meridian.
What was the food highlight of your year?
I spent a month in Israel in January and what amazed me the most there was how good all the produce is. Dates, bananas, cucumbers, carrots, radishes - everything tasted completely different and fresh and sweet. There were no chemicals or preservatives or anything. I got to go to a strawberry and carrot farm near the Gaza Strip and just pick things out of the ground, clean them off and eat them. Completely different than buying produce at a grocery store here in the States.
The lowlight was probably a cheese calzone that our guitar player Jeff and I ordered at 2 AM in Hoboken, NJ in May. That thing was the saddest excuse for a calzone I’d ever seen. It looked like it had been run over by a truck and then someone had tried to cover it in parmesan cheese to distract from the disfigured blob it had become. Somehow, we still ate the whole thing. Tour diet. No rules. No regrets.
What was the music highlight of your year?
Our set at Fest 12 this year was wild. We had just released a new record a few days beforehand and were worried about playing new songs, but they were received just as well as the old ones, which was very validating. The entire set was just a total mess of crowd surfers and stage divers and people stealing my microphone. It was exactly what I had hoped it’d be.
I also got to spend a week on the road with The Smith Street Band from Australia while they were out with Frank Turner in October. Their band is incredible and they were the nicest and most accommodating group of people. Definitely developed a few too many inside jokes and a bunch of really great friendships.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
We went to Montreal on tour this summer. We’d never played in another country before and Montreal was great because it felt so European and foreign. We had an incredible, packed basement show and were all just ecstatic and buzzing the entire night. We’d been hearing about poutine ever since we booked the Montreal show, so the next day we had a day off and went on a search for the best example we could find. We found a great little spot in a cool neighborhood but right as we all got our orders, the skies opened up. There was no sitting or standing room left, so what I’m left with now is a very fond memory of the four of us huddled under an awning in a doorway in Montreal stuffing ourselves with french fries and cheese curds and peppers and various spiced meats.