The Next Chapter·Bedside Books

Why Arkells singer Max Kerman connected with the book Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas

The lead singer of the Hamilton, Ont.-based rock band discusses the last book he read.
Max Kerman is a member of rock band Arkells. (CBC/Knopf)
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Max Kerman is the lead singer of the rock band Arkells, a group named after a street from their hometown of Hamilton, Ont. The hit band's latest full-length album Rally Cry won the 2019 Juno award for Rock Album of the Year and they walked away with a Group of the Year award as well. Kerman admits to being an avid reader while on the road.

He's currently reading the provocative nonfiction book Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas.

Reading on the road 

"The band spends a lot of time together in the tour bus arguing about politics and about the various podcasts we're listening to. The book I'm reading now, we heard about it from a podcast. It's called Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas.

"This writer has written for the New York Times and he's been on television. He's a charismatic reporter and good storyteller. He spent some time as a fellow at the Aspen Ideas Institute, which is one of these places where they bring together the best and brightest to figure out the world's problems. But the whole time he was there, it's like something isn't sitting right because everybody's talking about giving back but no one's questioning how they got that rich in the first place."

Money flows

"I get to meet lots of different types of people. Often times, people in the corporate world are excited to talk about their newest initiative around how to support low-income people or how to empower women or any sort of righteous causes. And it feels good to talk about it — especially if you're at a cocktail party or something. But no one's actually asking the questions like, why do these people have so much money to begin with? Systematically, there's something off. And that's what he dives into."

Asking the hard questions

"I think it's important to surround yourself with people who are not afraid to ask hard questions that make you second guess yourself. I think it's very easy to point across the room, but it's a lot harder to look within your own group and recognize there's something a little off here — and that's what he does in this book."

Max Kerman's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Watch Arkells perform live on CBC Radio's q

Arkells perform their song Hand Me Downs LIVE in the q studio. 4:08