The close-up: Glenn Max, producer, Meltdown festival and music programmes at the Southbank Centre

Glenn Max, Producer, Meltdown festival and music programmes at the Southbank Centre

What are you wearing today?

A thrift store suit that I found in Glasgow two months ago. I like a narrow Italian cut: I'm small, so I'd feel like a kid in his dad's suit if I wore one that was too big. It was £59 and the shirt was £20 - the print is somewhere between a Le Corbusier house and a German farmhouse. The shoes are thrift too; the heel means that I didn't have to have the trousers tailored. I'm spruced up today; I don't always dress like this.

What is your everyday look?

It just depends. Every day I run a gauntlet of meetings, concert rehearsals and parties. What I wear is determined by what the day has in store - combined with my mood and what's clean.

How come you are wearing a badge with a suit?

That's Andre's badge. He's my local fashion icon and the bass player in my band. When I moved here from New York, being the anglophile that I was, I thought I would be walking into a land of dandies and I was disappointed to see that it was more grunge than Seattle.

How long do you spend on your hair?

As little time as possible. It's about throwing a lot of hair conditioner in there and letting it do the rest - letting the anarchy take on its own music.

Is your beard modelled on anyone?

Not really. Someone mentioned the cavaliers the other day. I was clueless, but at least I got a bit of education about them. The usual comments are Vincent Gallo ... or Frank Zappa.

What image do you project with your wardrobe?

It depends, but the hair trumps whatever I'm wearing. In certain situations, when people have been speaking to me on the phone for a long time and then we have the inevitable meeting, my hair is always something they draw attention to. The composer David Axelrod was once playing at the Royal Festival Hall and we cut off his bar bill at a certain point. He was furious - he wanted to rip out my lungs - but when I turned up at his hotel door, it messed with his expectations. I think he was expecting a grey bureaucrat, but we hit it off really well. My hair saved my life, but it'll probably kill me in the end.

How much importance do you place on your attire?

I guess it must be far, far, far too much. I'm still looking for that perfect pair of jeans that you can only find once in a lifetime and then you wear them until they fall apart. I suppose I must be hopelessly materialistic.

On what occasion do you think you looked your best?

May it be this one.

How much does your wardrobe reflect what you do for a living?

To a degree it does. I guess I'm representing an important arts institution, but there's also a great informality about the Southbank Centre, which is something we like to recognise as well. It's important to be versatile. This week I'll be going from seeing an avant-garde theatre group to seeing the White Stripes in a single night. So I need to find something to wear that covers that, although they're both avant-garde as far as I'm concerned - it's the rich cultural pageant of London life that we parade through.

Have you ever had a radically different style?

Absolutely. I've had all sorts of glam-hippy-punk kind of phases, but always out of step with temporal reality. Late, or early for the re-hash - I can never seem to get that right. I'm sure I missed out on some great trends, like 1916 DaDaism: it would have been great to have been there with Hugo Ball.

Are you a spontaneous dresser or do you plan outfits?

I don't plan outfits. I'm never in a state of mind to plan an outfit. I like to freely express at the altar of the closet. I like to be an abstract expressionist - I like to be a Franz Kline. I like just pulling things out and the next thing you know, you've assembled something.

Are you happy with the way you look?

Seldom. But it'll do.


Interview by Imogen Fox

The GuardianTramp

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