Cynical Bastards

“A lot of people say that Hamilton is the armpit of Ontario. There’s a glee and a smugness that some people take in saying such a thing about a place that they’ve never even lived in before. I’m probably guilty of it too about another place. I’ve probably done the same and committed the same crime. I always find it odd and depressing, though. The reality of Hamilton and of a place like Detroit, Cleveland, or any other great industrial city is that these places have not been dealt a great hand. It’s no fault to the people who live there. People are dealing with forces much greater than them such as globalization. The song hearkens back to what your mom told you: If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all. It also salutes the people who are in those places who are trying to make a difference and make it better. So “Cynical Bastards” is essentially an ode to everybody in Hamilton who is working hard, investing their time, money, and energy. Who are pouring love into the city to make it a great place for me to live, which I’m extremely appreciative. I think the city has evolved in a positive way over the last five or ten years. It’s also a message to the people who don’t have anything nice to say: We don’t need you around anyway. You can go back to wherever you came from.”Max Kerman (17)

What Are You Holding On To?

“”What Are You Holding On To?” is about accountability. Not just to your family or your god, but accountability to everybody in your community and to the people who you don’t know. The lines in the chorus, “What are you holding on to? You’re just talking to the stars above you. What are you holding on to? You’re saying that only God can judge ya.” I’ve always hated that expression “only God can judge me,” to be honest. I do get what people are trying to say. I think “only God can judge me” is a bit of a cop-out so that you don’t have a responsibility to anybody but your god. The fact of the matter is that we’re all in this together. Pleading as if you have it tough so you’re only going to look out for yourself, I always find that to be a little discouraging. So the song is a reminder because that’s not actually the case.”Max Kerman (17)

Leather Jacket

“”Leather Jacket” was inspired oddly enough by the song “When No One’s Watching.” I’m a huge The Hold Steady fan. The lead singer, Craig Finn, put out a solo record and that song is on it. I think it’s amazing. Craig Finn has an incredible way of writing about the nightlife of young people in the city. He’s so good at focusing in on that topic. I wanted to have a song like that on the record. I had a few people in mind for who the song would be about, so it’s not about a specific person. The idea is that if you have a friend calling you at two in the morning from a payphone, the chances are that shit isn’t going well that day or just in general. The song is about understanding, too. When friends find themselves in that kind of situation, there’s usually some other reason that is causing it beneath whatever is happening in the moment. It’s about understanding where people are coming from and just being a supportive person. I’ve been in that situation myself, too. I’ve been there before and I’ve had friends come bail me out.”Max Kerman (17)

John Lennon

“The idea in that song is about feeling sorry for yourself when you probably don’t need to feel sorry for yourself, or when most people assume that you don’t need to feel sorry for yourself. The example I’m using is that John Lennon in ’67 was on top of the world but he was probably going through a grueling depression and using a lot of drugs. So I was using that as the example of someone who doesn’t need to be feeling sorry for himself but is, even though that’s a complicated thing.”Max Kerman (17)