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Local Artist Highlight: The Skinny Limbs

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Avenue for the Arts gets the spin from Max Knoth of The Skinny Limbs; local band headlining at The Pyramid Scheme February 24th, 8 pm. Interview by Pamela MacDougal.


Headlining at The Pyramid Scheme—All Ages 

February 24, 2024 at 8:00 pm (doors 7:00 pm)

Tickets available at Kickstand Productions

Find The Skinny Limbs on Spotify, Instagram and Facebook


“I love it when friends say our songs are good to listen to on a relaxing evening drive,” says Max Knoth of The Skinny Limbs when asked what he wants his audience to experience. “It should be fun—never boring—and I hope that people could find it fun to dance to.” With influences of Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Police, Bad Suns and Last Dinosaurs, this music is perfect for a day at the lake shore. It’s fun, and it’s danceable. Max says all the time they spend out near Lake Michigan finds its way into their sound. As it so happens, I listened to their Spotify playlist while on a drive and found the songs just right for a day on the sand.

Where did it start? When I asked how he and his brothers got started with music, Max remembered the stand-off with a row of piano keys as a second grader. “It was a love-hate relationship,” Max says, “but somehow we made it through the gauntlet.” He credits his parents for providing just the right amount of loving coercion at the right times, always very supportive. He says, “They aren’t super artistic or musical, but maybe they wished they had had the opportunity as kids, so they tried to give it to us. I’m surprised they made us stick with it for so long: Bach on the piano. But piano is foundational—it has both a melodic and percussive route. It serves as a baseline, a great instrument to start with.” He recalls hating it at times, but then getting to the Beatles and thinking “That’s what this is all for.” It became super fun. Even so, he says he never really enjoyed music the way he does now until he stopped taking lessons. Now, he explores music with what he chooses to play.

How did the band get going? Max says, “We started jamming when I was around 10 years old. I was taking drum lessons in 5th or 6th grade, Nate was taking guitar lessons and Jake was taking bass. We had a bare bones band right away—we would jam Tom Petty songs because my dad played those a lot on the radio.” It fell together naturally because they were all taking lessons at Firehouse Guitars. He says he switched from drums to bass to guitar, and his brothers rotated as well. When they used to jam, they would switch around instruments, cross-training for fun. For The Skinny Limbs, Max sings and plays guitar (sometimes bass), Nate plays bass (sometimes guitar), and Jake is on the drums.  Mitch (synth) has been a buddy since middle school, and Andrew (guitar) attended the same high school and supported the band long before he joined. “When we needed a new guitarist, Andrew already knew half our guitar cuts so that was an easy decision.” Though Mitch and Andrew aren’t technically brothers, Max says that at this point they might as well be.

How does the music come together? When asked what he likes about music in general, Max says he listens to jazz and alternative music: “It’s a little bit more instrumentally interesting, complex.” He writes most of the music and lyrics for Skinny Limbs, “I do the music first, then I write the lyrics. I really want the music to be perfect first before I put vocals to it.” There is collaboration—Jake writes all of the drums and records those. Max identifies Jake as the most significant co-writer, but he also says, “We’ve been playing around with that process. Andrew [guitar] has been demoing with me. That’s been great to get the input. It helps change the sound a bit.”

Where do you record? Noting how professional their work sounds on Spotify, I had to ask how they get it recorded. Max said that in the past they have used a studio in Grand Haven called Third Coast Recording Company, and they sometimes have recorded with friends who had the necessary equipment. Recently, they’ve been recording as much as they can themselves. They plan a trip to Nashville to visit a friend with a recording studio “to polish things up.” He says the key is getting everything demoed very thoroughly before walking into the studio: “We aren’t professional producers but we can demo everything out pretty thoroughly. I don’t like having to figure things out on the studio clock.”

What does the future hold? Max says their goal has been to put out quality music and just keep trying to get it in front of more people: “If people connect to the music, that’s the best thing I can hear.” They would like to open for a national touring band, whether for a small run or an entire tour. He says, “We’ve done one-offs with national bands and that was pretty cool. Anytime we’ve done this, a number of people have discovered us.”

Favorite place to play? The Skinny Limbs like the Pyramid Scheme for headliners. It’s a good size room—400 capacity. Max says, “You can pack 100-200 people in there comfortably. It’s cozy, it sounds really good, and they always take care of us. It always feels like you’re in a room full of friends when you’re there. So, I enjoy that quite a bit.”

Is it an issue being family? More than one family business has foundered on the disagreements of siblings, but Max says The Skinny Limbs do pretty well working out any differences. They are all fairly easy going. “We have our disagreements, but we air them on the spot instead of letting things stew and get out of hand,” according to Max. They negotiate practices, marketing approaches, and shows without too much difficulty. He says, “We all approach the band trying to get a similar sound. So, the chemistry has always been there.”

What did you study and do you use it in the business? Max, Nate and Jake graduated from Grand Valley State University with different degrees: business, advertising and illustration. At the time, Max didn’t care for his business degree, but now he appreciates the knowledge base—it ties into what he does for the band organizationally. Advertising and illustration skills are handy as well in building a music brand. Although Max designed the last two single covers, Nate currrently does most of the artwork.

What’s next? The Skinny Limbs are working on a fourth EP, Mozart for Martians, to be released in March 2024. A headliner show is planned for February 24th at 8:00pm (doors 7:00 pm) at The Pyramid Scheme. I’ll be there.

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