Band of the Week: Hiram-Maxim

Meet the Band: Lisa Miralia (electronics, vocals), Dave Taha (guitars), Fred Gunn (vocals), John Panza (drums)

In a League of Their Own: The group formed for the Lottery League, the festival that randomly places Cleveland musicians in bands with one another. "We didn't know each other at all," says singer Fred Gunn. "I knew guitarist Dave [Taha] a little bit. I never heard of or met [keyboardist] Lisa [Miralia] or [drummer] John [Panza] before. We were coming into this thing blank. I listened to what John does and I listened to what Lisa does. I was trying to add the pieces up in my head. We had a meetup and agreed we would do dark post-punk music. When we got to practice, we just jammed to see what happened. It just gelled right away. We knew we had something. We clicked from day one. It worked. We had fun doing it and we kept doing it."

Packaging Matters: Recorded and mixed by John Delzoppo at Negative Space in Cleveland and mastered by Chris Keffer at Magnetic North, the band's forthcoming debut mixes elements of noise, post-rock and punk. It's the first release of 2015 to come out on Aqualamb Records, the imprint run by graphic designers Eric Palmerlee and Johnathan Swafford. In lieu of standard album packaging, Aqualamb's releases take the form of printed, bound, 100-page books. Cleveland-based graphic designer Ron Kretsch provided the artwork, and each book also includes a download code for the music. The album will also be out on vinyl — the local pressing plant Gotta Groove handled those duties.

Why You Should Hear Them: The opening guitar riff in "Visceral" has a bluesy edge to it as Gunn whispers menacingly. "I whisper something different every time," he says. "That song is about dealing with my friend Mitch's death. Mitch was killed by a drunk driver two years ago at a festival. He was one of the most amazing people. The song that makes me think of Mitch is the Talking Heads' 'This Must be the Place.' I do whisper [the lines from the song] 'Love me til my heart stops/love me til I'm dead.'" "One" has a quiet intensity to it and sounds a bit like Pink Floyd, even though Gunn says he's not really a Floyd fan. "Dave had that pretty guitar melody for that song," he says. "We were writing it and thinking it was so pretty and how does it fit in with what we're doing. Our music has this dark, somewhat spooky element to it. Lisa adds these dark and menacing elements and it's a beautiful contrast of the two. The way my buddy described it to me was that it reminds him of Joy Division but 10 beats slower."

Where You Can Hear Them: hiram-maxim.com.

Where You Can See Them: Hiram-Maxim performs with Murderedman and Goldmines at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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