A small studio where Maddox Rogers makes music and art. (Courtesy/Maddox Rogers)
A small studio where Maddox Rogers makes music and art. (Courtesy/Maddox Rogers)

Maddox Rogers spends at least an hour a day in a small cabin on his family property off of Lutak Road. It’s crowded inside. The kitchen countertop is covered with keyboards, a laptop and microphones. On the opposite side, by the oven, there are two guitars – one acoustic, one electric – sitting on guitar stands. The floor is littered with wires connected to amps, pedalboards, and a synthesizer. There are tambourines and other percussion instruments sprinkled throughout. Of course the drum kit can only fit in the cabin’s living room. 

The space serves as a lab and studio, where the 16-year-old wrote and produced his first album with the eponymous title Maddox & The Moby Tobys.

“I really like, kind of wacky alternative in the realm of They Might Be Giants and Tally Hall. But also, influence wise, I really love jazz, bebop and the sort.” 

The  album, which was released on June 25, is currently available on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and YouTube

The singer-songwriter with blonde locks and wire framed glasses said he got into music by way of band class. 

“You know [band is] an introduction into taking music more seriously than just listening to it and going ‘that’s pretty cool.’ I started playing trumpet and then eventually moved to tuba. But now I drum it up,” he said. “It’s lots of jumping around … but I promise it’s not indecision, it’s fascination. I like them all too much to do one.”

That multi-instrumental strategy is on full display on the new album. Rogers admits his band name is misleading. 

(Courtesy/Maddox Rogers)
(Courtesy/Maddox Rogers)

“It’s just Maddox. The Moby Tobys are a lie, they’re not people. It’s just, I thought it’d be funny if just a single person was posed as lots of things. But it’s just one guy,” he said. 

The Rogers family is rooted in music. Leon is the youngest of the three and Matilda is the oldest. 

“I do have a musical family. My sister is an insanely awesome singer songwriter who doesn’t put our stuff out there, but she’s just if you know her, you know her, and it’s great. And other than that, it’s just been, I really liked music. And I love listening to music. And that’s pushed me in the right direction,” he said. 

The Maddox & The Moby Tobys album has 15 songs. 

“However, one of those is a three-second clip of somebody screaming. One of them is the dedication and one of them is the special thanks,” he said. 

The album is proof of Rogers’ musical acumen and percussion talents but with titles like “Happiness is a Warm Toothbrush,” it’s easy to tell that he has a knack for drawing listeners in. The genesis of that song is as peculiar as the title. 

The Beatles’ 1968 White Album featured a song called Happiness is a Warm Gun – a lot more serious than a toothbrush, Rogers said. He did not intend to parody it but admits that is just what happened. 

“There’s this other song I like by Gomez, called Love is Better than a Warm Trombone, and somewhere in my mind, I got crossed, and I thought it was called happiness is a warm trombone. I thought this was some great inside joke that I was like becoming a part of by making it and then I discovered that’s not a thing. And I made that up in my brain. And that’s just amusing as an inside joke that isn’t real, it’s fake. And it also has a good ring to it,” he said. 

Then there’s Pythagoras Blues, the first song Rogers recorded. He enjoyed writing it and used it to gain momentum.  

“I was like ‘This is possible, I can make this work.’ That is, it’s one of the instrumental ones for the most part, less, less wordage. [It’s] jazz influenced. I love a good jazz waltz. And it being in three fours kind of the driving force of the entire song. I was thinking of triangles like yeah, that works. And I thought it was also funny to have a song that is very, very enamored with the number three,” he said.  

Although Rogers does not have any scheduled live performances this summer he can be seen playing drums for other community bands like “Heavy Nettle.” In addition, he will be attending Sitka Fine Arts Camp in July. 

Rogers dreams of going to the University of Hertfordshire in eastern England and majoring in music. He said he got into songwriting because his goal is to write songs for movies and video games. 

“That’s just such an amazing line of work. And also probably one of the only ways you’re gonna make new music and money at the same time,” he said.

Rogers hopes to change people’s attitudes with this album. 

“I would love it if people took a certain attitude from this. Because I’d like to think that there’s an attitude behind this album. I find that over the course of time, we’ve gotten very negative as a whole. And I like to think of this as a refreshingly positive but not necessarily naive experience,” he said. 

Francisco Martínezcuello is the Chilkat Valley News summer reporter. Previously, he was in Southwest Alaska working for KYUK Public Media as a News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January...