DIY PUNK & WILSON CENTER: 30 YEARS OF COMMUNITY, ARTS, & PROTEST (1pm-10pm, Saturday, April 30, 2011)


Often history is made  in the unexpected places; the humble hole in the wall that provides space at the right moment for creation to flourish.  The basement of the former Central Presbyterian Church at 15th & Irving Streets NW -- long known as the Wilson Center -- is one such location.  Among other things, it provided a haven for members of the now globally-influential DC punk underground to hold shows and build community, and inaugurated a broader tradition of DIY shows held in community hall spaces.
This era began on April 4, 1981 with a 13 band bill organized by HR of Bad Brains, and also featuring Minor Threat, Scream, Void, SOA, among many more.  The Wilson Center served in this way for more than 20 years, and was a venue for many successive generations of kids to develop their talents and discover their voice and vision.
In honor of this legacy -- and to continue it -- punk activist group Positive Force DC (now based at nearby St. Stephen's Church) has organized a 30th Anniversary celebration,  April 30, 2011 at the former Wilson Center, now operating as the Capital City Public Charter School.
PF aims to both celebrate DC's DIY punk history and build on it through an exhibition of photographs, posters, and videos of past Wilson Center shows, as well as speakers, and, of course, music, all of which would help to raise funds, gather food donations, and recruit volunteers to assist the Capital City Public Charter School and neighborhood non-profits We Are Family and Hermano Pedro, serving seniors and the homeless, respectively.
The evening benefit show beginning at 7pm will include Max Levine Ensemble, Birds & Wires, War On Women, and Regents (all-ages, sliding scale admission $5-10, with food donations encouraged); at 5pm, Ian MacKaye will speak and answer questions on "Playing Underground: The Importance of Community Hall Spaces."  (A full schedule of the day's events will be available shortly.)
This event is not meant to be about nostalgia, but about celebrating and continuing a crucial local tradition of creativity, community-building, and empowerment. Please join us!
More info, Mark A 202-277-2715

and in cartoon form...

courtesy of mega talent: BEN LEVIN

the past, the present, and the future

thanks so much to everyone who came to our party on saturday!  it was wilder than our wilder expectations.  all the bands were amazing, and it was particularly awesome to see so many old friends in the same place... so yeah.  thank you.

now on to the present! in case you're bored or need something to look forward to, i'd like to offer you the official trailer to the upcoming documentary BUTT CHEESE AMERICA: THE BEPSTEIN DOCUMENTARY by bepstein's roommate rose blossom.  it should be out this summer!

what does the future hold?  we're playing a show in dc with chewing on tinfoil from ireland on january 25th.  and both spoonboy and the bepstein show will be making appearances at an upcoming dc acoustic house show on february 17th with paul baribeau and the boy who could fly.  so look out for all that!

also, our new/old record "mr gikokovich" is out now on plan-it-x records and no breaks records if you're interested.

newspaper says: come to party

From the Washington Post Express:

What's the secret to a long-rocking band? Unbridled passion? Unwavering commitment? For D.C.'s Max Levine Ensemble, endurance has meant something far simpler.

"The band just wasn't really able to break up," says vocalist David "Spoonboy" Combs. "There were a couple points when it looked like the band had reached its conclusion. But we couldn't agree on it, so we just kept playing together."

The group's brand of catchy pop punk might seem out of place in a town known for aggressive hardcore and mathy post-punk, but Combs isn't worried about that. "If someone writes us off because we have a hook in our song instead of a breakdown, I don't take offense to that," he shrugs.

The Ensemble's connection to D.C. runs deeper than musical aesthetics, anyway. "I think we've always been more connected based on types of shows we play rather than on the type of music we play: shows where people are finding wherever they can to put it on, shows that have a more politicized DIY aspect and have more political lean to the lyrics."

Many of the band's songs are so upbeat that you might be fooled into thinking they were simple, tossed-off tunes. But Combs says to listen closely: "[Our sound is] catchy, it's more fun, but we've also broached heavier things in our lyrics." Want proof? Check out, where you can find lyrics and free MP3s of their entire back catalog.

For TMLE's upcoming 10-year anniversary show, the band will be releasing a greatest-hits disc — except all of the tracks are new. "We have old records that we're running out of, and we thought, rather than re-pressing these old records that sound so different, we would rerecord them," Combs explains. "In some cases, we've been playing these songs for years, and they've progressed and changed. So, we wanted to document that."

From the Washington City Paper:

Ten years is an impressive milestone for any band, but it is an even more remarkable achievement in D.C., where the tendency is to implode before playing a record release show. The Max Levine Ensemble is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a party at the Black Cat, though you’re most likely to have encountered its scrappy brand of pop-punk in a church auditorium or crowded, overheated basement. With its history of serious-minded harDCore, the District can be a tough town for pop-punk. But a quick skim of David “Spoonboy” Combs’ lyrics—particularly on the excellent Them Steadily Depressing, Low Down Mind Messing, Post Modern Recession Blues EP—reveals an astute political consciousness that owes more to Dischord’s heyday than anything from the Lookout! Records catalog.


hello russia.

in case you hadn't heard, we were recently interviewed for the russian zine "behind punk."  over and out.


in anticipation of our upcoming 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY, we recently decided to re-record 13 classic max levine ensemble tracks to reflect how we play them now.  versions of all the songs were released on various records between 2000 and 2005, but this new/old record stands on its own.  some of the songs sound drastically different from the originals, some are just recorded a little better with better amps and shit.  plan-it-x records is releasing the CD, and no breaks records is doing the LP.  both will be released at the aforementioned 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY.  be there!


1. Ghost Song
2. Pink
3. Poop Farm
4. Leopard Print Girl
5. Dittography
6. Nihilism
7. Pablo Pinkpants
8. Fuck You I'm Not PC?
9. Defenestration
10. Tidal Wave
11. Jazzonia/Back to Point Zero
12. The Craftiness of Miss Oh Here We Go Again
13. Hell of a Week


aye! just posted an interview we did in october!  check it out here.

oh and tonight (saturday, dec 4th) i (spoonboy) will be interviewed on the punkcdsampler podcast sometime between 6pm and 9pm: 

10 years toooooooo OLD...

WELL... any way you look at it we've been a band for 10 years now.  it's been a long time.  so for better or for worse we're throwing a party and we'd like you to come celebrate, because we all did this together.  if you ever booked a show for us, played a show with us, let us stay at your house, let us borrow your amp, drove us somewhere, wrote us a letter (email), listened to our records (or mp3s), or came to a show (even if you stood in the back), you are partially responsible because you encouraged us, so come to our party, BECAUSE WE DID THIS TOGETHER!!! (that is, you also share the blame.)

COME ONE AND COME ALL - if not for the music then at least to pick up your commemorative pillow case.

Saturday January 8th 2011

(10 years too old dc punk pop - record release!)
GOOD LUCK (bloomington, in - ummm, beautiful intricate melodic songz)
BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY (brooklyn, ny - spazzy synth punk ska something good)
DELAY (columbus, ohio - green day meets the replacements meets basement pop)

1811 14th St. NW Washington DC
tickets are available here.



P.S. in case you're interested, (and you shouldn't be), our UK tour blog is finished. 
view at your own risk.



unfortunately we've decided to keep a tour blog for our UK tour:




oh hey, we made this music video for our song "my name is john." hoooppe you liiike it!