Max Volume is best known as a KOZZ radio personality and a music ambassador for the Reno Lake Tahoe Area. But he also is known as a great musician with a talented band, and the Max Volume Band on July 3 opened for Aerosmith at Harveys Outdoor Arena.
“How cool is that that Aerosmith would give a shot to some kid from Reno,” Volume told Tahoe Onstage. “I am a speck of dust on Joe Perry’s guitar. I could never fill Steven Tyler’s jock strap. But I’ve got a great line of bullshit and somehow they thought it would be a good time if I joined them, so God bless them.”
Playing ahead of a famous band is not new to the Max Volume Band, which has shared a stage with Reo Speedwagon, Edgar Winter, Pat Travers, Thin Lizzy and Foghat.
“I’ve opened for some of the biggest names in the world but this is raising the bar quite a bit,” Volume said. “For two days I was floating around 3 feet off the ground and then after three days I said, ‘Oh crap, we better practice.’ ”
The group includes Matthew “Toast” Young, who formerly played with Black Sunshine, and Johnny Johnson.
“Johnny is a mountain of a man and he plays bass like a beast,” Volume said. “Toasty is the pride of Truckee. He was the drum tech for No Doubt, ZZ Top, David Lee Roth, Billy Idol and Whitesnake. We are just a merry band of pirates.”
Whitesnake is fronted by David Coverdale, an Incline Village resident, who Volume calls a mentor.
“David and Sammy (Hagar) have been great guides who have helped show me the way,” Volume said.
Volume has played guitar since he was a boy, and he discovered early how to get maximum volume out of the instrument.
“You know how I got good at guitar?” he asked. “I got grounded a lot. I could do two things: read or play the guitar, but I could not plug in so I used to lean the guitar against my wall in my bedroom and it would make the wall turn into an amplifier. You kids who are reading this right now and you can’t plug in, just lean that head stock into the wall and you will be able to hear it a little bit better.”
Volume greatest talent is his gift of gab. After starting out in music as a stage tech for Bill Graham, he got into radio and has been a disc jockey for KOZZ 105.7 since the 1980s.
“Everyone has a gift,” Volume said. “Find that gift, go do it a lot and smile when you are doing it, said the angel who dropped out of the sky while I was unloading my car one day.”
One of the songs the band played was “Long Road to Nowhere” featured in the movie “No Where Nevada,” which will be released July 24 in Reno’s Masonic Temple Theater during Artown.
Volume is enthusiastic about the state of music in the region.
“Reno was the punch line to a joke and it has turned things around,” he said. “Look at the caliber of stages we have in the area. Look at Crystal Bay (Casino). Crystal Bay is knocking it out of the park every weekend. And there’s Cargo and Whitney Peak. You think you are in San Francisco when you walk into that place. It is gorgeous Cargo is bringing in world class talent and very diverse talent. The Knitting Factory continues to just lay it down. They do rock and they do rock really well.
“We have so many great venues here in town. The Alley closed its doors but they’ve reopened and Sparks has got some great venues. You look at Cabo Wabo and Vinyl in South Lake and places that have been around 100 years like Whiskey Dick’s and the Pastime Club. You walk into the Pastime club in Truckee and it’s kind of like Grandma’s attic if Grandma smoked Pall Malls and drank Jack Daniels. We are so blessed to be where we are.”
Volume said after the Aerosmith show he hoped to make it next door to Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in time to see Lavish Green, a South Lake Tahoe band that opens for Fishbone.
“I’ll be just footsteps away but my heart’s going to be with them,” he said. “Those guys are some of my best friends in the whole world. We’ve been playing together for 20 years. They’ve been together 20 years. How cool is that.”
And, again, it’s pretty cool to share a stage with Aerosmith, which has sold more records than any other United States band.
“They have been to hell and high water, from the peaks to the valleys and back up again,” Volume said. “They are completely resilient. A little band out of Boston has continued to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and to be in the same sentence with these guys; wow!”