WELCOME TO THE PARTY
A CONVERSATION WITH MIKE TILKA OF MAX WEBSTER
Formed in 1973 by Kim Mitchell and Mike Tilka, Max Webster soon became one of the most original and popular rock bands in Canada. Deemed to be ahead of their time, Max Webster’s first three albums, Max Webster (1976), High Class in Borrowed Shoes (1977) and Mutiny Up My Sleeve (1978) went on to achieve gold status in Canada.
The Juno-nominated prog-rock quartet, which saw numerous personnel changes before the group disbanded and Mitchell embarked on a solo career, has released The Party (ole Label Group / Anthem Legacy / Universal Music Canada), a definitive 8-disc vinyl and CD box set on September 29, 2017. This collector’s item features newly remastered albums, exclusive unreleased studio and live songs, the long-out-of print Kim Mitchell self-titled EP and a comprehensive booklet packed with rare photos and memorabilia. Mitchell has also apparently autographed 100 of the discs.
Max Webster co-founder and original bassist, Mike Tilka, produced Mutiny Up My Sleeve after being fired from the band. He recounts his time playing in the band, only to return as producer of the third studio album: “It was a bizarre experience,” Tilka explains. “Terry Brown [producer of RUSH] called me after they had recorded the third album and said, ‘Mike, fix this.’ It was nice to return and work with the guys.”
Tilka is eager to hear the re-mastered material, including his own Mutiny Up My Sleeve. “I wasn’t available to sit in on the re-EQing and remastering of Mutiny as I was on tour with my [new] band,” says Tilka. “But I am excited to hear what they’ve done as I wasn’t too happy with the limitations [in the bottom/bass end] of vinyl mastering. I’m sure the guys did a great job.”
“If this goes well,” Tilka continues, “there’s the possibility of remastering more live material from our Q107 Reunion Concert and possibly making a video, but no guarantees.” Tilka is quick to remind me there were no Webster videos, as it was the 1970s, save a Top of the Pops video that’s on YouTube.
Some of the new material on The Party includes Tilka’s remix of “Let Go The Line,” previewed during the Q107 reunion concert on May 24, 2007 at Toronto’s Dock’s nightclub, along with a remix of “Diamonds, Diamonds” that includes new vocals with Mitchell and The Barenaked Ladies. “I believe some if not all of the original bed tracks are in the remake of ‘Diamonds, Diamonds,” Tilka says. “There are also 40 to 50 archival photographs, flyers, posters and graphics that have been put together by the original Webster album graphic designer for this release.”
The Party is a solid collector’s piece for diehard Max Webster fans. Another live reunion show has not yet been planned as of yet. “Mitchell is the boss and will decide if we play [another show],” says Tilka, who is game should Mitchell call for it. I bet the legions of Max Webster fans are game as well.
The Party is available for order via Musicvaultz.com.