Q&A: The Maine


Lovely, Little, Lonely World Tour
April 19, 2017
House of Blues // Orlando, FL

Photos and interview by Chris Lampkins.
Words and transcription by Sam Hsu.

Arizona based The Maine have been deemed everything from emo, indie, alternative, pop punk, rock, and everything in between. Following the ten-year anniversary and release of their latest studio album, Lovely Little Lonely, they're on the rise. We got to sit down with frontman John O'Callaghan and guitarist Jared Monaco to discuss the new album, touring, their favorite cities, and more. Read the full interview below:

Hey guys! Thanks for sitting down with us. How’s tour been so far?

JO - It’s been…
JM - Great?
JO - Yeah, I was trying to think of a good adjective. I only hesitated ‘cause I don’t know very many words. But it’s been a lot of fun. We never had met The Mowgli’s before, and it’s been awesome getting to know them and their music. Beach Weather’s been great, people are showing up, no rotten tomatoes at the shows… we actually tell people they’re not allowed to bring rotten tomatoes or produce to any of our shows. 
JM - The shows have been good, it’s nice to have the record out and see the response to the shows. 
JO - The first week, the record wasn’t out so we were playing just 2 songs people hadn’t heard. It was interesting seeing people get a feel for it. Now that the record’s out, it’s nice.

Do you have a favorite date at all so far or any place in particular that you are looking forward to playing?

JO - Anaheim was bonkers, and SLC was crazy.
JM - We didn’t know what to expect going into the SLC show -- it wasn’t the biggest show on the tour, but it was certainly crazy. 
JO - The room was packed, a lot of energy. Every show, even the smallest show, surprises the hell out of us. 

What’s the concept behind your newest album, Lovely Little Lonely?

JO - A lot of introspection. I had the title for a while, and then I took a trip to a place called Zion in UT. I stayed there a couple of days by myself and it’s kind of that epiphany that maybe there can be positivity found in solitude and being alone. We really tried to roll with a theme, sonically, throughout the whole record. I’ve been saying it a lot, and it probably gets tiring, but we try to create that rub/distance that made you feel uneasy but comforted at the same time. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it did in our heads. I feel like we did an OK job.
JM - We nailed it!
JO - This one for us is very different from the rest of the records because it flows for the first time from start to finish. That’s something we always wanted to do and we kind of finally pieced it all together. Fortunately, our producer (Colby Wedgeworth; produced AC and Pioneer) was on board with the idea. 
JM - We tried to bring him in early in on the project too just so we could be on the same page.

What about your inspiration/influences behind it?

JO - I personally was listening to The Clash, and I don’t think that made its face in the album. What I have pulled from though, especially, their live albums, it’s the energy. You can feel it in the songs. 
JM - We referenced a lot of things. We were looking for a jumpoff point for some things so I can’t really pinpoint to one thing. 

Favorite song off the album + the story behind it?

JO - I like the last song on the album, “How Do You Feel.” It’s hopefully posing a question -- that question -- to the listener and making them just think. I feel like today’s society just doesn’t think. I’ve found myself in a low the past couple of months of just looking at my phone, don’t think. Looking at my computer, don’t think. Even turning on the news, don’t think. I think sometimes a little step back is very important.
JM - My favorite track is called “Taxi”- it was my favorite before John even finished lyrics about it. There was just something about the way it came together in the studio that I was really happy with. It was one of those songs that just needed to happen to kind of motivate you and point you in the right direction. It’s still my favorite.

Any lyric on this album that really stands out?

JO - I can’t answer ‘cause I wrote all of them!
JM - There are 3 interludes on the records, the last one is called “Lonely.” There’s this part right after the really dry guitar, the lyric is “for me it all turned around.” For me, that’s the climax in the record that’s a high point for me. I feel like it’s this rollercoaster.
JO - Musically, that’s where we’d usually end the record and I’m really proud of us in the sense that we decided to end it on an up and not on a low.

What’s your favorite album of yours to date and why?

JO - Definitely this one. We’re always most excited about what’s most recent, creatively. That’s the most precious at the moment. The people that dig what you do dictate everything else. It’s not ours anymore, it’s everyone else’s. They tell us what songs to play, and it’s subtly or overtly. I think it’s always going to be the most recent stuff -- at least if you heart’s in it and you’re passionate about it it should be the most recent stuff.
JM - Our last four records were released independently so we’ve had the ability to move our studio to wherever we’ve wanted to go for the most part. We’ve done El Paso, Nashville, Joshua Tree, and now Northern California. The goal is to top the last session but not by it so much that you can’t do it again. This is the most fresh in my mind and was a great experience, plus we’re all happy with how the record came out so no complaints.

How would you describe your growth (both lyrically and musically) from albums/EPs from the past 10+ years to now?

JO - For us, it’s hard to be on the outside of it. I just think what’s really important for our band is that we follow our intuition and do what the gut says. We never set out to be cool or different for the sake of trying to be. I think we just do whatever it is that we feel and hope that people get on board. 
JM - I think the cool thing about taking things in different directions like that and pushing ourselves in different directions is being able to see things that work well and things we can improve on. It helps up shape the way we make records, the way it sounds, and knowing what our fans want to hear and what we want to play every night. 

"The people that dig what you do dictate everything else.

It’s not ours anymore, it’s everyone else’s."

Between recording and performing live, which do you prefer?

JO - I mean, you can get burnt on both easy. If you’re going nonstop on the road, you need a breather, and if you’re going nonstop in the studio, you’re not going to perform your best. If you’re in one place too long. We understand that so it’s important that we put everything into the time allotted. With the studio, it helps that we pay for it, so there’s a monetary investment and a time frame. On the road, you can’t really overplay. You don’t want to because people get tired of it. It’s just a balance. I think that I personally have grown to fall in love with the process of writing and recording music. There’s also something very intoxicating about performing and being on stage.
JM - The trick is to being happy in the moment, which at times can be hard. I think that we’ve seen amazing things happen both in the studio and on the road. I couldn’t pick one or the other. 
JO - At this point it goes hand in hand… I’d probably pick studio. 

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