Max Frost speaks to Atwood Magazine about his buoyant and bold ‘Flying Machines’ EP, a freshly independent, free-spirited return that soars with irresistible energy, unbridled passion, and intimate, captivating wonder.
for fans of MGMT, flor, Walk the Moon, The Flaming Lips
Stream: “Cool Kids” – Max Frost
Dreams are like flying machines in that they are very fragile, take a lot of work, and are almost impossible to get into the air.
Buoyant and bold, Max Frost’s new EP is a radiant splash of sunny, electric indie pop just in time for summer.
It’s a record that invites listeners to dwell in our dreams; to bask in the belly of possibility and revel in our own inner potential: A set of songs built with passion and brimming with heartfelt hope and psychedelic wonder. Free-spirited and fun, the soaring Flying Machines EP hits hard as Max Frost comes to life with renewed vigor and refreshing verve.
Spent way too many of my days up in my head
Trying to tell myself I should just stay in bed
But when I do I always wake up in the night
Yeah in the night
I wish I had it all right now
I had it all right now
‘Cause when the cool kids come to take you outside
They smoke in your conversation
And when your dreams all come, you look to the sky
To give you congratulations
Millions of lives, but they’re rolling on by
‘Cause you’re living too fast to chase them
And when the cool kids come to take you outside
They smoke in your conversation
Released May 6, 2022, Flying Machines is an exhilarating return from singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Max Frost. Known to many of his half a million TikTok followers as the guy who creates viral mashups of “XYZ” song, if it were covered by ZYX artist, Max Frost has been actively charting a course through the music industry since 2013, when he first debuted on legendary major label Atlantic Records. The past nine years have been the good kind of whirlwind for Frost; he released two irresistible EPs, a litany of standout singles, and an incredibly well received debut album, and embarked on multiple headline and support tours throughout North America and beyond.
Frost parted ways with his label in 2020, and in many ways Flying Machines marks the beginning of his next chapter.
It’s also the first real look at Max Frost the artist in quite some time; after 2018’s debut album Gold Rush, more recent years had seen Frost releasing a smattering of singles up through spring 2020’s “Sayonara,” at which point Frost regrouped and put his efforts into other aspects of his career. He returned this past March with “Head in the Clouds,” the first single off Flying Machines.
In addition to playing every instrument on the record, Frost also co-produced the EP with Grammy winning, Brit and Mercury Prize-nominated Jenn Decilveo (Cyrus, Demi Lovato, MARINA). Written and recorded entirely during the past two years, Flying Machines is the product of rediscovery and rumination. Max Frost has proven himself a versatile artist, able to hop in and out of sounds and styles at will. When a world of musical possibility is at your fingertips, how do you choose your lane?
For starters, it isn’t easy.
“This writing process for EP began as I went independent at the beginning of the pandemic,” Frost tells Atwood Magazine. “In a whole new whole world both professionally and socially, I found myself drifting back to my past. I wanted to make an album for the 19-year-old who had started this career. This vision was always to make something much more organic and instrument based than my previous album. I had met Jenn Decilveo in a session and had a great feeling about her sensibilities. The music evolved even more loose and chaotic than I had expected, but I love how it turned out!”
“I feel like it takes me musically much closer to the home base I started with,” he says of the EP. “It’s the place I think is truer to my soul than some of the more pop forward music I’ve made.”
I’ve been more of a simple and pop songwriter, but I feel like this record captures the fun and un-calculated side of me more than the cultivated side.
Flying Machines is loose, warm, and welcoming: An unassuming, smile-inducing reverie that finds Frost more sure of himself and his art than ever before.
Musically more psychedelic and instrumentally colorful than any of his previous releases, Flying Machines‘ songs feel especially honest and organic. It’s as if Frost let the music tell him where it wanted to go and how it wanted to be, and he obliged in bringing it out into the world. The resulting record is his most authentic effort yet, balancing strands of MGMT and The Flaming Lips together with the rock and pop of contemporary acts like Walk the Moon, flor, and NoMBe.
“This record was made in the spirit of returning to my initial and ongoing inspiration to search through my dreams that I’ve had since I was a kid,” Frost says. “Dreams are like flying machines in that they are very fragile, take a lot of work, and are almost impossible to get into the air. I feel like my pursuit of creative inspiration has been like the act of trying to build a flying machine in my back yard.”
Highlights abound, quite literally, from start to finish. Opening track “Head in the Clouds” sets the scene perfectly, with Frost’s sweet, golden vocals resting gently upon a sun-soaked synth organ, dynamic, driving drums, and a bustling bass that just won’t quit. A glistening guitar solo midway through seals the deal, locking listeners in for the roller-coaster ride to come.
“This song is about someone holding back from being in love,” Frost explains. “Their head is in the clouds and their eyes wander through the fog of naivety and youth. It’s a call for something more to happen between two people. A demand of the feeling that’s just on the edge to come full circle.”
You got your head up in the clouds, babe
It’s like you’re next to me and miles away
You gotta speak, don’t hesitate
I wanna know the words that you don’t say
Click-clack, click-clack, time’s ticking on
This and that, this and that, singing my favourite song
Thought I’d see you round, but you’re never home
I wish you wouldn’t hold back, you know that
It gets lonely, lonely, lonely
I’m driving down, I’ll move back by those tracks
I move slowly, slowly
You won’t show me why you hold back, do me like that
When I only, only wanna drive with you now
Move back by those tracks
We’ll move slowly, slowly
– “Head in the Clouds,” Max Frost
The fun doesn’t stop there: The bustling, charged “Cool Kids” is an invigorating eruption – one that is likely to unseat Echosmith’s 2013 debut (and multiplatinum) single as everyone’s favorite “Cool Kids” song. “‘Cool Kids’ is about sneaking out of your house in high school to hang out with people who will make you cool,” Frost notes. “It’s about existential angst and fear of the future driving you to numb out and make bad decisions. But it also tries to comfort the character in the song from the future in a way they will never hear.”
The smoldering, seductive “Virgin” sees Frost basking in a place of renewal and intimate connection, whilst the curiously (and compellingly) titled “Ringo Starr” employs a captivating pop/funk sonic fusion to soundtrack Frost’s warming/road map to his former, younger self. “The title and lyrics about Ringo Starr are sort of a mindless nod to his fabulous dress style, but is also meant to feel like the beginning of a fabulous but dangerous adventure,” Frost says.
The EP’s final two tracks are also two of its best. The Weeknd-esque “Change Shape” is a moody, soulful, and cinematic explosion of intense fervor and vulnerable self-expression: An utter surrender of self in song. Amidst a turbulent and engulfing backdrop of heavy, pulsing drums, propulsive bass lines, and reeling, roaring electric guitars, Frost spills himself fiercely and freely, singing hot on the mic, “I’m a fire in the rain now, changing shape. You and I are not the same, I feel no pain. Gaze in my direction, eyes in my reflection, never gonna look the same. I’m a fire in the rain now, changing shape…”
“In a way I still feel like I can’t quite describe what this song feels like to me, but the lyrics do their best to paint a picture of someone so hurt that they want to become something else and disappear,” Frost reflects of this song.
“I think ‘Change Shape’ is probably the most interesting and out of nowhere song on this record,” he adds, on the topic of favorite moments on the EP. “It’s one of those types of songs that I can’t quite pin yet. I don’t know what it is… or where it came from, really.” As far as lyrics are concerned, “there’s a line in the chorus of ‘Head In The Clouds’ that I have loved and have been getting feedback on solely for the purpose that it’s a famous highway in Austin, Texas (my hometown) that I’m 90% sure has somehow never been referenced in a song before. The lyric goes, “I’m driving down on, Mopac, by those tracks.” It feels cool to find a way to sneak a hometown reference into a song without most people noticing. It very much hits on my theme of my youth past with this record as I spent many hours of my teenage life stuck in traffic on that road!”
And then there’s “Walking on the Stars,” the feel-good, starry-eyed finale that fills our hearts with undeniably warm, fuzzy feelings. Max Frost is at his best when he sings from the heart, and there’s no denying the provenance of these emotions or the wide-eyed wonder in Frost’s voice:
I don’t want to be inside a silhouette
walking from the office to my bed
rolling out my numbers for the government
only living off what I’ve got left
’cause summer’s getting farther away
and it’s getting harder to sleep
memories of flying machines
gravity got nothing on me
I’ve been walking on the stars i’m under
yeah I miss the days when I was younger
and I had my mother holding my hand
swear I’m never gonna grow up again
Listening to this song feels like we’re peeking under the covers, and playing audience one last time to an especially intimate moment between Frost’s current and former selves.
Max Frost has scored an undeniable and irresistible win with Flying Machines.
His melodies are catchy, his vocals are charming, his lyrics come from the heart, and his instrumental work is absolutely dazzling – making each of this EP’s six songs an instantly memorable, inspiring delight. It’s the work of a dreamer, brought into this world to soundtrack our own dreams as we work to make them come true, too.
“Even before I could play music, it was something that activated my dreams,” Frost ultimately shares. “I was drawn to it and it became my life as I grew up. The best of it I’ve ever made, and the closest I’ve ever come to my creative dreams being realized have happened in small rooms by myself like a DIY project. My music has been like a little airplane I’ve been trying to build in my backyard. The things you create chasing a dream are fragile, difficult to get off the ground, and sometimes magical if you get lucky. But the part of me that’s always remained dedicated to chasing it is the true me; the child in me that’s somehow survived life. This EP is for him.”
“I hope this record is just a feeling for people,” he adds. “I hope it makes them feel like they’re flying down their bike as a kid again. Or that it briefly gives them a little bit of that warm nostalgia that can hit you out of nowhere from the smallest memory. The record was filled with that stuff and motivated its creation, so I hope somebody out there gets a small piece of that intention.”
The 2020s are looking exceptionally bright for Max Frost. Experience the record via our below stream, and peek inside his Flying Machines EP with Atwood Magazine as Frost goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his latest release!
Stream: ‘Flying Machines’ – Max Frost
:: Inside Flying Machines ::
Head In The Clouds
The song is about wanting someone to stop holding back from falling in love. It’s told through the lens of Austin, Texas with the image of being stuck on the Mopac expressway. It was the last song written for this EP but the first to come out!
This was the first song written for this EP and is about the torment of wanting to fit in as a kid! I wanted it to feel like the bottling up of joy and angst all in one feeling. I was very inspired by MGMT when making this song and wanted it to feel nostalgic of the late 2000s era!
This song is about meeting someone who makes you feel new again. We all get scars as we walk through this life and hope we find someone who makes them not count. We’re all looking for that feeling of being new again and sometimes you find it in another person.
This song is a warning and a road map to my young self entering LA and the music scene. The title and lyrics about Ringo Starr are sort of a mindless nod to his fabulous dress style, but is also meant to feel like the beginning of a fabulous but dangerous adventure.
This song took a long time to write and the idea for it first started many years ago. It was a feeling I couldn’t put to words for a long time. In a way I still feel like I can’t quite describe what this song feels like to me, but the lyrics do their best to paint a picture of someone so hurt that they want to become something else and disappear.
Walking On The Stars
This is the song the title “Flying Machines” comes from. I was driving through my childhood neighborhood in Austin and wanted to create a song that felt like being there again. It’s both happy and sad. It’s both nostalgic but also it makes me glad I’ve moved on. In a way it’s a requiem and celebration for a child I’ll never be again.
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📸 © JT Boehme
:: Stream Max Frost ::