Max Franken

Malka Spigel portrait

Minimal Compact (like Githead) started life as a trio without a drummer but also (like Githead) needed a live drummer for the ever-increasing number of gigs they were being asked to play. Max Franken, introduced to the band by Mecano's legendary Dick Polak, promised to fill the drum stool 'until they could find a proper drummer'! Very quickly, it became obvious that he was much more than a 'fill in'. In addition to rhythm, Max provided a one-man support network for three Israeli exiles, broke and a bit lost in Amsterdam. European tours were reliant on Max's series of ageing (and often unreliable) Citroën cars (which he still collects and drives!) In spite of this, the band covered hundreds of miles from gig to gig, completely self-reliant due to Max's transport!

Max has a very solid and distinctive rhythmic style—committed and disciplined—yet having its origins in coming from a genuine non-musician. His kit is always cymbal-less and his attack on the drums is so heavy that Minimal would often refer to him as 'The Carpenter' for the pile of wood chips and broken sticks on the floor around his kit after a gig.

After Minimal dissolved in 1988, Max returned to his long-term career as a psychiatric nurse but continued to not only practice the drums and play in many local Amsterdam bands but also to teach himself to play the guitar, using it to learn about how music is structured. He has also kept himself super-fit by a regime of weekly football matches (in the Amsterdam league) and playing squash. He has been able to put all this to good use by learning Githead's entire set and being able to fit straight in at the band's first rehearsal as a four-piece.

Selected discography

Minimal Compact: One by One

CD cover art

This was the first Minimal compact album I played on; in fact, it was the first proper album from the band. Babylon Tower is special because the rhythm is based on my first 'good mistake' (a mistake I made in the rhythm that everyone loved, so I kept it!). This idea became part of my drumming style.

Minimal Compact: Raging Souls

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We had played a lot of gigs by that time and were really tight as a band. I really like The Traitor and Raging Souls.

Minimal Compact: Figure One Cuts

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Our last proper studio album: a bit more experimental. I was able to try out new rhythms, especially on Piece of Green, which isn't like anything else I ever did.