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Just two weeks before Max Rammer was supposed to leave home to start his freshman year at University of Wisconsin–Madison, he suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving board accident at a swimming pool. He spent months in hospitals and other facilities receiving care for his injury, infections and other medical issues that resulted from the accident.
While at a rehabilitation facility in Omaha, Nebraska, he leaned into his interest in making music. And just like that, Rammer's previously secret hobby became a full-fledged passion made public.
In the fall of 2018, after working diligently on his music, Rammer released the EP "21·25," the hospital room in which he spent months. Under the moniker ThatsLife, Rammer is working on a his debut album and other musical projects with friends and frequent collaborators.
To a blend of hip-hop, electronic and R&B, Rammer adds woozy, auto-tuned vocals and melancholic instrumentation. As ThatsLife, he says he tends to gravitate to hip-hop but also enjoys diving into other lanes. He says a "super hardcore" project is in the work with his friend Noah Kolak and a handful of other local musicians.
On Friday, June 28, at Crescendo on Monroe Street, Rammer will perform live for the first time opening for Gabriel Rodreick, a Minneapolis-based musician who makes music under the name Freaque. Rodreick, like Rammer, suffered a spinal cord injury that left him reliant on a wheelchair and with limited use of his hands.
Rammer says he first met Rodreick's father, Matthew Rodreick, at a spinal cord injury conference in Vancouver.
"It was a weird coincidental connection because there aren't very many people that I'm aware of that [have] a similar injury to me that are doing music," Rammer says.
Eventually, Rammer and Gabriel Rodreick began talking. When Rodreick lined up a show in Madison he reached out to Rammer to open for him.
Rammer will be joined on stage by two collaborators, Noah Kolak and Brady Vickerman. Kolak is featured prominently on Rammer's debut EP, which came out in 2018. Kolak will assist Rammer with his vocals as his lungs are still not at full capacity post-accident. Vickerman will provide live instrumentation and backing tracks that Rammer has assembled.
Rammer says he's excited about his first live show.
"I'm not that nervous," Rammer says. "I think it's just the people that I've surrounded myself with. They make it seem very easy, and so I don't really feel nervous about it."
Though Rammer has a lot going musically at the moment, he hasn't lost sight of his academic goals. In the fall, Rammer will move to Madison to pursue an undergraduate degree at UW–Madison. He looks forward to that entrenching himself in the local and campus music scenes.
Other Upcoming Shows
Concerts on the Square season is finally here. On Tuesday, June 26, the first show in the six-week series kicks off and I finally get to use the fun picnic backpack I got for my birthday. Honestly, what's better than sitting on the Capitol lawn with friends and a supply of crackers, cheese and a bottle of wine or two? I really don't think it can be beat. The first of the concerts is titled "East Meets West," which is sure to be a fascinating blend of influences and instrumentation.
A couple weeks later, on Thursday, July 11, the Madison-based startup company LÜM is launching the full version of their music streaming platform in conjunction with a concert at the Majestic Theatre. The show features up-and-coming artists who have shared their music on the platform during its beta testing stage and have found tremendous support from the community on the platform. Will their recorded music translate well to the stage? Well, LÜM picked these artists for a reason.
Read more about LÜM and its partnership with Frank Productions here.
As always, tweet me your thoughts, questions, recommendations or anything else @loganrude_.
Logan Rude is an editorial intern for Madison Magazine.