Max Bartos is a New York based actor and musician who has graced the stage both on and off Broadway as Darren in Sing Street as well as countless other projects. A devasting injury turned his world upside down and changed the trajectory of his life, but in return gave him an amazing gift. I recently interviewed Max on how he turned a childhood tragedy into triumph and what lies ahead for his young talent.
1. Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! You had quite an interesting start in this industry. Tell us about the injury that gave you the gift you have today.
Yeah! So, when I was 11 years old, I was out on a family bike ride on a local trails to trails path in Pennsylvania. I’m not sure how it happened, but I lost control of my bike and ended up falling off a cliff into a river. I sustained mild physical injuries, but a traumatic brain injury. I was no longer allowed to do contact sports, which was pretty much my whole life up until that point. At the time I was playing lacrosse all four seasons, so I had to pivot my love and decided to pursue art and music!
2. How did you discover you had perfect pitch?
I discovered I had perfect pitch from the bike accident! All of a sudden, I was able to identify the pitch of certain sounds! I remember my first identification was that my toothbrush was playing an inverted C major chord!
3. For those that don’t know the theater, what exactly is a Broadway workshop?
A Broadway workshop is a step that every show takes before it goes to Broadway. It is a time to get actors into a room and put the show on its feet and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s also an opportunity to get investors into the room to see the show and hopefully get some money.
4. What is your process for preparing for a role?
My process for preparation consists of a lot of personal reflection. I always like to slowly dissolve my own personality and adapt to the character’s personality during my warm-up before the show. I also like to learn a lot about the time period the show takes place in and the experiences that the real-life people have gone through which are similar to my character’s.
5. Not only are you an actor, but a serious musician as well. Tell us about your music career and what it is like being a front man for a band.
Music is truly my favorite thing ever! I began writing music when I was in my mid-teens, and I’ve been doing it ever since! I’m a solo artist now, backed by an incredible band, but for a while I was in a band, and that was a fun experience. Getting up on stage and performing music that you write for a group of people who some you may know, and some are that total strangers, is the most incredible yet terrifying thing. I’m so happy I have chosen to do it as a career.
6. Tell us how you came up with the concept for the rock opera Such is Life?
It’s a bit of a long story, but I was going through some relationship issues, as I’m sure a lot of teenagers can relate to, and I decided the best thing for me was to take all the emotions I was feeling, and turn it into art. So, me, being the hopeless romantic that I am, wrote a love story about two characters in the digital age. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I actually wrote the whole thing when I was on vacation in Iceland with my family. Iceland is my favorite place ever!
7. You are also a lyricist, composer and writer of not one but two new musicals! What is your creative process?
My creative process is definitely interesting! I am a musician first, so I always write the chord progression and melody before I write the lyrics. I almost always write with an overall story in mind, so it makes the lyric writing easier, because I just write lyrics to fit the story. The story is always about a real-life thing that has happened to me, but to be able to phrase it as a character going through it, and not myself is very helpful.
8. What is your favorite thing about living in New York?
My favorite thing about living in New York is definitely the ability to go see shows and experience the greatest art in the entire world! If I walk 20 minutes, I can be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but then if I walk another 20 minutes, I can go see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The availability of amazing creative forces in one location is truly incredible.
9. What are your plans for 2023?
Well, right now on the music side I am working on my second album! I’m in the process of recording it right now with my amazing friend, Sam Poon, regarding theater, I’m just auditioning and hoping for the best.
10. Where can we follow you?