The Coming of Age of The Mak Brothers Band
The Odessa-based rock band hasn’t graduated high school, but they’ve evolved into an act worthy of recognition.
BY JULIE GARISTO | Dec. 19, 2018
The Mak Brothers Band might just have what it takes to fill the iGen rock ‘n’ roll supergroup void.
For now, the young Odessa-based trio can be found at Tampa Bay live music venues.
All three members share the same surname, Makrianes — hence the band name — and attend Sickles High School in Northwest Tampa. Frontman/guitarist Ian is a senior; brother/bassist Aidan and cousin/drummer Evan are freshmen.
Don Makrianes — the band’s manager and dad of Ian and Aidan — says that he and his brother fostered a love of rock ‘n’ roll while raising their sons. The Makrianes boys grew up to the sounds of The Boss, Tom Petty and Cheap Trick. Don took them to their first concert, Bruce Springsteen, in 2010.
They got together as a band officially in 2011 but started lessons at the Rockatar Music Academy in 2012.
“That’s how we were able to get small shows early on,” Ian recalls.
Evan still takes lessons there. “We also volunteer there over the summer and help teach young kids how to play instruments,” he adds.
According to Don, who works a day job at Tech Data, the boys were focused from the beginning and were on track to do some serious professional work with music. He effuses pride as he tells me how much they’ve progressed since starting out as a band.
Likewise, Ian owes a lot to his father. “My dad grew up in Cape Cod and moved to Florida in high school and went to Clearwater Central Catholic,” he shares. “A lot of the music he likes, I heard at a young age and a lot of it I still listen to and take influence from today. I also show him a lot of new bands I enjoy; we like to share music with each other. We’ve also been to tons of concerts together.”
Which bands had the most impact on them? “I used to be very influenced by punk bands like Green Day, but as time has gone on, I’ve found myself influenced the most by Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem,” Ian says.
Aidan says his early influences were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers along with Green Day. “But now I’ve grown to look up to people along the likes of Kevin Grimmet from Hunny and Rich Meyer from Highly Suspect.”
Evan digs the drummer for the Chainsmokers, Matt McGuire, the bands Hunny and The 1975. “I also love Social Distortion,” he adds.
All three seem to have cherrypicked what works for them musically and are forming their own style and approach. Ian plays shimmery, melodically complex solos on his Gibson. Evan beats the skins with power and precision, and Aidan plucks at his Rickenbacker bass with the nimble confidence of a true Macca Brother. As for songwriting, Ian writes the lyrics and the three collaborate on the arrangements.
Sure, they started out like a lot of young bands by playing straight-ahead punk. While those roots are still there, they’ve injected their sound with stylistic touches that set them apart from generic three-chord rock bands.
“A lot of the pedal-related things are from artists I listen to but the chords and solos are just things that I find sound — for lack of a better word — cool,” Ian says. “I don’t know much about music theory, so we all just kinda like to throw in different things that just sound cool to us and things that we think make songs sound fuller and more complete.”
He mentions the bridge in one of their latest songs, “Tough” — “because it almost becomes a whole new song and smoothly transitions back into the original melody, and that took us a while — probably longer than it should’ve (laughs) — to write.”
While they grew up part of the first generation raised with cellphones, the threesome gets the importance of promoting their music via social media but still find it challenging at times.
“For us and many others, self-promo is a work in progress. I have no doubts that we’ve gotten much better at it, but it is definitely a skill you learn as time goes on because it’s hard to promote yourself without coming off as annoying, but I definitely think we have gotten much more comfortable with it and we’ll continue to grow.”
Another challenge is those promo photos. Pics that are just a few months old can look outdated because they’re still growing — evident especially with Aidan and Evan.,
No matter, their sound comes out bigger than what you’d imagine looking at them. The last time I, personally, had a similar feeling of amazement, the Hat Trick Heroes rocked my world a decade ago with their ’70s-influenced hard rock. Also formed by brothers, they haven’t been actively playing gigs since 2014.
Hopefully, these two siblings and a cousin will stick around a while. A gig at a recent multi-band showcase at Crowbar garnered the Mak Brothers enthusiastic applause, and many of the young adults in attendance were seeing them for the first time.
“Something we always find special at gigs is when we are playing with other bands and their fans stay and watch us and get into the music and dance around because they don’t have to do that,” says Ian. “It means they genuinely enjoy our music and that makes us happy.”
Another special experience: They played onstage for Cheap Trick at one of their sound checks in 2015.
“A friend of my dad’s, who is a friend of the lead singer Robin Zander’s family, was able to get us passes to watch Cheap Trick’s soundcheck at the Capitol Theater in Clearwater in 2015,” Ian reminisces. “So during the sound check, they had us come on stage and we played their hit “Surrender” for them! There’s actually a video of it on our Youtube Channel. “We’ve been able to talk to them a few other times and Robin Zander has given us some great advice.”
What did Zander tell them three years ago?
“He said that the most important thing we can do as a band is to constantly practice and to always stay together, and we’ve definitely lived by that for the past three years.”
Given how far they’ve come, we look forward to where The Mak Brothers Band will be three years from now.