Music Interview – The Maine

Formed in 2007, Arizona-based rock quintet The Maine have come a long way. After releasing their new album Lovely Little Lonely, in early April, the band have been touring constantly. With almost 10 years to their name, the 5-piece – vocalist John O’Callaghan, lead guitarist Jared Monaco, rhythm guitarist Kennedy Brock, bassist Garrett Nickelsen, and drummer Patrick Kirch – have continuously presented an infectious combination of heavy rock and creatively crafted elements of pop to produce their unique crowd-pleasing sound.

After a quick introduction, we find ourselves discussing The Maine’s influence and style. I ask Jared how he would personally sum up the band.

“Oh man, that’s a great question!” he laughs. “We’ve kind of changed a little bit over the years … I think there being five of us influences come from a lot of different places. I’d say if I had to nail it down, we’re really heavily influenced by 90s music. That’s kind of when we grew up and we identify with that the most.”

Jared also notes how the band’s genre has been frequently mislabelled. “People have called us pop-rock and soft-rock, and I don’t really identify with any of those. I think, essentially, we’re a rock band.”

The Maine recently had the opportunity to play this year’s Slam Dunk festival. Jared is quick to express his enthusiasm playing there. “It was cool! It was really fun those days are kind of chaotic with festivals going on and we had a lot of friends in town playing the festival so it was kind of fun to run into people we knew and the shows were great and a lot of fun.”

“I’ll play in any room … as long as people are showing up and enjoying themselves”

As their first festival in the UK, Jared thinks “it was definitely successful, and very fun – we’d be down to do again”. He also explained that “we usually play like club venues so it was kind of a differenct experience for our band. It’s as fun as everyone usually says it is, it was cool.”

The Maine are currently on tour, hitting as many places in the UK as possible. Just last year they played at Rock City alongside Mayday Parade. According to Jared, the band “just wanted to come back as soon as [they] could.”

He also talks about venue choices. “It made more sense to play Rescue Rooms this time round. I think last time … that package was a little bigger.” But the audience is always more important that the location. “I’ll play in any room … as long as people are showing up and enjoying themselves, and I like both Rock City and Rescue Rooms. We’ve done them both so many times before.”

“It is very important that an album will be a stamp of where we are at, at that point time.”

“For us headlining here,” he continues, “we wanted to bring some groups over that we were really confident about and we feel really good about. So, we have Night Riots with us and The Technicolors with us … I really like the package we put together for this tour”.

With their big tour in full swing, we start talking about the band’s favourite things to do while in the UK. Jared admits they’re still getting to grips with the country – they’ve “learned how to do it better every time [they’ve] come over here.” He quite sheepishly confesses “the first time we came here we were being so American and trying to find food spots that we were used to eating like McDonalds and garbage food.”

I recommend a few places for him to hit up in Nottingham, and he elaborates about adjusting to the UK. “The more times we come over here, the more we become accustomed to things here … We refused to adjust to the time, but once we get back on our feet and feel well rested, we’ll go out and adventure. And there’s so much amazing architecture here!”

It’s no secret The Maine have released their sixth studio album, Lovely Little Lonely. It’s contrasting sombre sounds and upbeat pop which is best showcased in hit songs like ‘Don’t Come Down’ and ‘Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu’. I ask Jared how Lovely Little Lonely is different from previous albums, and whether the sixth studio album reflects a more evolved version of the band. Jared thinks about the question for a few seconds and agrees with my question.

“It is very important that an album will be a stamp of where we are at, at that point time.” Each album The Maine have produced have been recorded along different locations. “So, we hold the studio gear at home that we can pack into a box truck and drive it to wherever we want.”

Jared explains how the band rented out an Airbnb in Northern California in the Pacific Northwest and set up in this house that was on a cliff that overlooked the sea. While this may sound like an unusual method, Jared tells me they did the same for their last album, American Candy, which they recorded in a desert in Joshua Tree.

The band have “started adapting to this new style of recording where we just go somewhere we’ve never been. I think that those visuals really feed a lot of your creativity and affect how the record ends up sounding.” With a focus on creativity, Jared gets into how the new environment played a big part in the new album.

“For me, I think that the record does sound different in that when I think about it, and I visualise where I was when we recorded … I can see the Cliffside, the ocean, and I think that some of those visuals influenced the sounds we were making. Besides that, it is also the most continuous record we’ve ever made. You got from track one all the way to the end, it flows really well and that was kind of a conscious effort when we were writing and in the preproduction for the album. We really wanted something that felt like from beginning to end there was no stoppage and that it flowed like water.”

We move on talk about Lovely Little Lovely’s explicit melancholy, yet emotive sound. I ask whether the band purposefully attempted to create an emotive concept album, or if it naturally unfolded that way.

“why the fuck not?”

“I think a little bit of both. John will conceptualise most of the ideas. He just has this creative overflow of information right from when we first start. We will take these ideas that he has and run with them, and for this record, very early on, he told me he was visualising water and like the depths of being submerged under water … Throughout the whole record you have this feeling that starts to develop… we tried to construct something that was melancholy, but still with a pop element, so it’s not totally depressing. I was hoping people would take their own interpretation, and it’s so funny you’ve sat here and told me that you felt like there was those two emotions, because that’s exactly what we were going for!”

With Lovely Little Lonely out, I ask whether Jared has a favourite song to play live. He admits it changes depending on the set, but it’d be ‘Taxi’. He recalls being nervous about the song. “For me, that’s my favourite track on the record. It’s kind of daunting to, you know, approach this thing that has been in my head for almost a year … we hadn’t tried to translate it live yet”.

“As a guitar player, I’m a utility for John’s brain. John has this great ability to write anything in a poetic way which then will end up as lyrics or melodies. ‘Taxi’, specifically, the idea that we were talking about exploring the idea of being alone, but being content with that … you’re with somebody, and you’re together, but there’s this deeper questioning that still exists.”

Finally, I ask about the band’s main(e?) support act, The Technicolors.

Jared is quick to praise. “We’re huge fans … we love what they’ve put out and they’re phenomenal musicians. They’re also from Phoenix, Arizona, from back home, they’re part of 8123 and they’ve been close friends of ours for a while now … so why the fuck not? Night Riots are amazing [too], so I’m really happy with the line up on this tour. It’s got a really good mix … every band has their own thing.”

The Maine’s new album Lovely Little Lonely is out now.

Zoya Raza-Sheikh

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