Book Extract: Meet Maxx

Maxx had been traveling and working almost continuously now for about 4 years. When he had auditioned for THE XFACTOR at 15 he never dreamed his life would be like it is now.

He had seen more of the world, played more gigs, lived and worked harder than he could imagine. He was constantly tired, aching and homesick for Memphis – though home felt alien to him when he did get there for a few days between tours.

He often wondered how his life would be if he’d turned down the choice to join the band.

4 and a half years earlier, Kyle, Charlie, Art and Lee had come on to audition for TheXfactor as a 4 piece boyband called The Keep – while Maxx had auditioned as a solo artist.

He had controversially performed with his guitar, playing a song he’d written himself but when the judges deliberated, he was told he wasn’t ready. He was just 15.

The Keep had also been rejected because they were ‘missing a strong lead vocalist’.

But then – the reality TV twist! The judges called Maxx and The Keep back on stage and they were all given an ultimatum – leave the show immediately or Maxx could join their band to make The Keep a 5 piece and they would all go through to the final.

He still cringed when he remembered the moment. He’d just about cried on live television.

The guys had welcomed him with open arms of course, like they had a choice, but those four had been together since they were in middle school and he still felt a bit like the outsider. It was even worse since the record label had made him the lead singer on a number of singles, leaving Charlie particularly put out. Worse still, against management’s ‘guidelines’ Maxx had started dating Dee. Mangement wanted them single for as long as possible, and certainly not dating another up and coming artist on their label. And once again, it was Charlie who seemed the most put out.

Their manager was Geoff Smart. He was a recovered alcoholic and the angriest man in music. He seemed to have actual contempt for the band, constantly referring to them as ‘talentless ball sacks’.

It didn’t matter who they were meeting or where they went, Geoff would be there in a pair of Adidas tracksuit pants and a sweat stained t-shirt complaining about the heat, or his psoriasis, or the fact that he forgot to bring his earplugs to their gig and would have to endure ‘another fucking hour of his life listening to their puerile crap’.

When they had played at the Yankees stadium, he had arrived late and wearing a t-shirt that read ‘I’d Rather be Raped by a Horse than Listen to Your Record’

‘I nearly managed The Smiths.’ He’d muttered with grim disbelief. ‘Fuck me.’

But considering their success he must have known a little about the business. And the labels head honchos (or herpes-riddled, coked-up, tasteless, trend-hoppers as Geoff called them) seemed to think he was one of the best.

But Maxx, flying across the Atlantic to begin the first leg of his European tour, feeling lonely, and desperate to reconnect with writing and playing his own music again knew that he needed a drastic change.

For too many years he’d been standing on stage, limply going through the perfectly synchronized hand motions, feeling desperately embarrassed by it all. And The Keep were, in boyband years, nearing the end of the line. Rumour had it, Lee got a first grey pubic hair 6 months back, though no one ever said it out loud.