To the Max
Anthony Delilli joined King Rat in 2003. He was living in Summit County, Colorado at the time and he made the 90+ minute drive to Denver numerous times a week for band practice and gigs.
“What a guy” I mumbled to myself more times than I can remember. I reveled at his enthusiasm for punk rock and applauded the sort of lolling-tongued enthusiasm it took to endure such a charge without the slightest whimper or hint of bickering.
Upon meeting Anthony a couple years prior, I quickly became aware that he was an exceptional guy. He was perpetually positive in an unpretentious way to the point where I began to seriously examine the cynicism I wore as a mask, and even conceded to set it aside from time to time.
We first met at a gig in Summit County, where Anthony booked King Rat with his band Special Ed. The two camps quickly became allies -- united by mutual affinity for punk rock, hardcore music and general attitudes of irreverence and social contempt. Little did either of us know that this initial friendship would have a profound effect on our lives and the longevity of King Rat.
Anthony had been commuting for months, sometimes bringing along his Golden Retriever sidekick and all-around awesome dog named Max. I finally convinced him it was a good idea to leave his job at Blockbuster Video in Silverthorne, to tell his psychotic on-again off-again girlfriend to kick rocks and move his ass to Denver. I offered him a room in the dilapidated row house on Capitol Hill I was living in at the time. The place reminded me of the atrocity the Delta guys called "home" in the movie Animal House.
“Dude you should just move down here and live with me and the rest of the savages in the Primate Palace.”
“Are you sure that’s OK? What about Max?”
“What the hell do you mean, man? That’s your best fucking friend. I’m saying by all means bring him too. You two are a package deal. No problem. Bring your band mates while you’re at it. What the hell -- the landlord won’t give a shit. You guys are tame compared to most of the roommates I’ve had.”
When I first met Max I noticed that he shared Anthony’s genuine good nature and warmth of character. After he and Ant moved in, Ant explained how he had rescued Max back in Upstate New York. This was in a small community where everyone knew everyone else and Anthony had spotted Max one day while walking about town. Max was severely neglected, living as a tied up piece of forgotten property and practically abandoned by people who failed to feed him, give him water or offer him any sort of interaction or affection. So, one day, having seen Max deteriorate for long enough, Anthony simply marched over to where Max was chained up, unhooked his collar and gently led him away to a better life.
Max was an animal of incredible emotional depth, affected to extreme degrees by Anthony’s movements. When it was time for Ant to leave for work, band practice or a a gig, Max would bum out hard, hanging his head low and retreating to the bedroom to pout. On the upside, however, Ant’s return home always meant a reception of rambunctious barking, frantic lapping and erupting clumps of orange fur.
Their relationship was the perfect symbiosis between man and dog. Anthony’s purity of spirit and kindness of heart matched by Max’s genuine enthusiasm and completeness of trust. They took car rides often, which Max loved. Plus, the preparation and consumption of food was a ritual of utmost importance and concern.
Max lived to be 17 years old, which for a large breed like a Golden Retriever is quite a feat. When Max died, Anthony was crushed. Devastated. I’d known Ant for a decade or more by that time and I had never once seen him in a shitty mood, much less heavily depressed.
I was compelled to try and find a way to cheer Anthony up. I wrote "To the Max" with the specific and deliberate intention of breaching the cloud of sadness around Ant to let in a little light. The song is written from Max’s point of view. If he could have articulated his feelings for his best friend, I am pretty sure he would have said something like this ...
I got you through the best and worst of times
Through every psycho girlfriend and every uphill climb
From New York state across the Great Divide
We went from town to town I was always by your side
We took it all in stride now take me for a ride
It’s a fact I got your back to the Max
Others come and go they’re only hacks
You know they don’t know jack and though I got no sack
It’s a fact I got your back to the Max
Your friends were cool and you were quite all right
That girl on the other hand out of her fucking mind
She messed with you and tried to wreck your soul
But you didn’t let her win you held onto the gold
Until she finally rolled the fuck out of our home
My situation was looking pretty bleak
I didn’t have much hope until you came back for me
Sorry about my bummed out moods
Hey what can I say I’m a complicated dude
But I’m always up for food and I’m happy to see you
If you've made it this far then you may want to play the song and read the lyrics again. Here's the link:
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This edition of the Rodent Reader is a preamble to our forthcoming album slated for release on September 29th, 2017 -- Anthony's birthday no less. The record is entitled "No Apologies No Regrets" and will be released and distributed by Unable Records.