Two Feet knows how to own his narrative— and turn it into a piece of art. After a public mental health struggle that caused his label, at the time, to abandon him, this traumatic experience birthed the fictional character Max Maco, the central figure in his new concept album Max Maco is Dead Right? , out Friday (April 16).
Two Feet, whose real name is William “Bill” Dess, isn’t reserved when speaking of his previous struggles, ones that landed him in various New York psychiatric hospitals. But despite the often-traumatic situations that were only amplified by the industry around him, he found unexpected inspiration during a stay at St. Luke’s. Along with a vision he later had about the Max Maco character, this solidified his desire to make him the focal point for Two Feet’s next record.
“I had met various, very interesting people who you’d never normally have the chance to talk to at some of these mental hospitals. Some of them had some of the most fascinating, beautiful stories about their lives I’ve ever heard,” Two Feet tells American Songwriter. “Over the course of years, I tried to formulate how I could basically tell an amalgamation of some of the stories from various people I’ve met at these hospitals.
“I had a half-dream, half-nightmare— I don’t know how to describe it, there’s almost like a pleasant nightmare of this character— and how this character could interact with Two Feet,” he shared. “[I wanted to find] how he could combine his story with the stories I’ve heard from other people and create something that was both genuine, in terms of where it stems from other people’s lives, and also combine it with my own experiences in my own life. That’s kind of where I created this character Max Maco from.”
Before jotting down any lyrics for the record, Two Feet wanted to make sure he understood who Max Maco truly was. With the help of the same famed acting coach who aided Rami Malek with his characterization of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Two Feet delved deep into the psyche of his character. Out of it, he was able to answer questions like, when Max Maco had his first kiss and what his favorite song was in third grade. “I wrote essentially half a novel, just all about this character’s past life that takes place before even the plot of the Max Maco album,” he revealed.
While the album’s sound as a whole is influenced by his childhood spent in the musical melting pot of NYC, his latest single, titled “Flatline,” showcases his childhood appreciation of Latin culture. Now, working with independent label AWAL, Two Feet created a visual to accompany the salsa-inspired record that he believes is one of his best examples of visual storytelling, although he admits that music videos still don’t come naturally to him.
Two Feet revealed that he has another album in the works slated to release later in 2021, but as far as tomorrow’s (April 16) release, Max Maco is Dead Right?, goes, he believes it’s his best record to date, even claiming the statement publicly on Twitter.
“A lot of my other albums, even my first two EPs are kind of just like, of the moment songs I thought of that I then compiled together and made an EP. So this one, to me, was really thought out. I tried to make everything congruent,” shared Two Feet. “From an artistic standpoint, it’s definitely my favorite album I’ve written so far.”
Two Feet’s second studio album Max Maco is Dead Right?, along with the single ‘Flatline,’ are available tomorrow on all platforms. Pre-order the album here.
Max Maco Is Dead Right? – Track List:
1) Hi I’m Max Maco
3) Think I’m Crazy
5) Never Enough
6) Are You Hanging Off The Balcony
9) Blame Me
10) I Can’t See At All
11) Time Fades Away
13) And I Fucked Up (Live)
Photos by Shervin Lainez