MAXWELL MCCABE-LOKOS USED TO RAGE ON STAGE WITH BLUES PUNKS THE DEADLY SNAKES. NOW HE EXPLORES MALE RAGE IN BRUCE MCDONALD’S NEW FILM THE HUSBAND.
Maxwell McCabe-Lokos is willing to play the game. Finally.
Speaking the day before his 36th birthday in the lounge of A71 Entertainment, the Toronto distribution company behind his new film The Husband, the former member of defunct T.O. blues-garage band The Deadly Snakes is no longer the dirty little punk who went by the stage name Age of Danger from 1996 to 2006. McCabe-Lokos retains a certain affection though for that idealistic kid with no head for business.
“It was purposely about not being about business,” he says of his time in the Snakes. “I mean we didn’t want to be a band with a lawyer. We thought that was retarded. We thought was showboat-y and unnecessary, and if you had a lawyer it wouldn’t make you more popular, at the indie level. I think things have changed, but I think we did pretty well for a bunch of snot-nosed brats who ran our own show.”
The Husband stars McCabe-Lokos as Henry, a sad sack copywriter whose teacher wife Alyssa (Sarah Allen, Being Human) is in prison for having sex with one of her teenaged students, leaving Henry a de facto single father to their toddler. As Alyssa’s prison term nears its end, Henry starts to obsess about the boy Alyssa slept with, his own perceived emasculation, and the future of his marriage.
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McCabe-Lokos started acting prior to his band’s break-up in 2006. He mostly got bit parts in indie films and TV series, playing “the weird skinny guy on cop shows,” he says.
The Deadly Snakes singer-keyboardist admits that he did not give “the most nuanced performances” onscreen at first, and did not start taking his potential new profession seriously until he landed a larger role in the 2005 drama Mouth to Mouth. Starring his future Tracey Fragments co-star Ellen Page (Juno), McCabe-Lokos played a homeless gutter punk.
“That was the first performance I was really proud of as an actor,” he says. “But I still think I had a youthful arrogance about it.”
McCabe-Lokos continued to act in the years following the Snakes’ break-up, developing The Husband screenplay over several years. He eventually brought it to his friend Bruce McDonald, with whom he had worked on the Hard Core Logo director’s 2007 film The Tracey Fragments.
Asked why he went to McDonald, McCabe-Lokos cites his friend’s affinity for challenging material.
“He gets into these kind of psychodrama character portrayals. Sometimes he does something really weird with those and sometimes he tells them really straight. I just knew he’d be game for it.”
Although it took a few years to get the film into production, McCabe-Lokos says that “[once] things got rolling, they moved really quickly.” The Toronto-area shoot lasted just 25 days, and the finished film premiered at TIFF last fall.
Asked to compare the film business with the movie business, McCabe-Lokos says, “There are more cooks in the kitchen in film for sure. There’s more people that are involved because there is more money involved typically. I think the most we ever spent on a record was 10,000 bucks, and that was a lot of money. But good luck trying to make a short film for 10,000 bucks.”
He adds: “You have to rely less on working with people in film. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I can kind of do my ideas up to a certain point and see them to one point of completion [in film], where in the band I couldn’t even articulate what I wanted a lot of the time. And not that I should have. There were six members in the band and so it always like herding cats, you know?”
McCabe-Lokos will next be seen in the Ontario-shot werewolf drama Wolves and has just finished writing his next script. One project not in the offing is a reformation of The Deadly Snakes. While his bandmate Andre Ethier has continued to make music, including for film, McCabe-Lokos says his own desire died with his band.
“It’s just gone. It’s not sad or happy for me. I don’t play music; I don’t have instruments in my house. I listen to music.”
That said, McCabe-Lokos retains good memories about his band days.
“It’s good. I like that. It was fun. I think some of the behaviour wasn’t commendable. Some of the relationships we formed with the band were not necessarily healthy; like being in a dysfunctional family and I was the abusive father.”
While he admits to not having made much money on The Husband, McCabe-Lokos lives in the hope that his “labour of love” will open doors professionally.
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“I couldn’t make a career out of being in a band,” he admits. “That was just a hobby. Sometimes we made some money at some shows, but overall totally it was a loss financially, which is great in your twenties. You can’t fucking do that in your thirties.”
Nor could he have legitimately kept performing the kind of action-packed shows that often saw him pounding on his keyboard and abusing his fellow band members.
“You can age in acting,” he says. “I get more parts as a 30-something than I did as a 20-something actually. Not that people in their 30s and 40s shouldn’t play music, but we were a youthful band. That was kind of the point of the band. We started when we were 18; we stopped when we were 28. We were known for our energetic live performances. We all agreed that being in a band had a shelf life.”
Given how many musicians complain about the dirty dealings within the music business, I wonder if McCabe-Lokos has had a better experience in film.
“In film it’s about business, and I kind of like that aspect of it,” he says. “I like the maturity of being able to be professional and not [adopts a snot-nosed attitude] ‘hoo-wah, fuck the bureaucrats. I’m not going to wear a tie!’ I’ll wear a tie. I’ll go into a meeting. Gladly.”
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Photo Credit: Johnny Vong