Let’s meet The Maine during their sold out show in Paris. John O’ Callaghan and Garrett Nickelsen talk about their evolution, the new album and their fans.
Photo credit : Chloé Bunel @ Above The Noise
Hey guys. Every story has a beginning so let’s talk about yours to better understand your connection with music. Tell us how it all began ?
John : Honestly, we were very different at our early beginning in music. Pat and Garrett were in several bands and were looking for a singer. I tried out. Kennedy was the next to join and then Jared. It took a couple of months. It took a couple of months to create the final lineup. We started out differently and suddenly it became concrete. The Maine was born pretty much after our first summer all together.
Isn’t it too reductive to say your band is pop rock ?
Garrett : We’re pop rock more than punk rock. (Laugh)
John : It’s really hard to define our sound ’cause we really have different influences, it’s very ecclectic but we agreed on a lot of things. I think « pop rock » is the most descriptive. It’s just perfect for what we do. I mean we have never been pop punk. Many of our peers are pop punk and we didn’t follow that trend, even if we don’t have any problem with that. We like pop punk bands. We just didn’t ever feel like we were doing anything like that. And we really have a pop beat so…
So what kind of music inspires you the most ?
Garrett : We all listen to different types of rock and so much more. John likes Hip hop. We both like pop music too.
John : Garrett likes Bob Dylan and I don’t. We can all agree on The Rolling Stones. Once, a guy told us that we reminded him of The Replacements. We fell in love with that band so it’s a great compliment.
Garrett : Actually, it’s the best compliment we’ve ever had. (Laugh)
Your sound has evolved through the years but your fans are still there and love your new songs. Tell us your secret : What’s your greatest strength as a band ?
Garrett : I feel like everything we have done, we have tried to do it as sincerely as possible and I think people can feel it. People who have ever listened to our band can tell our sincerity shines through our songs. Going outside our comfort zone is probably one of our greatest strengths and the reason why we have last this long. It’s just us trying to do new things. We’re the kind of band that wants to evolve. We’re not always doing the same things. And I think we have done a good job, always trying to do more and more. People seem to be more excited than ever. There’re new fans, especially here in France. Last time we played here, we saw a all new group of fans. We played an old song and more than half of the crowd didn’t even know it. I was « Whao that’s so strange. ». Then we played new songs and it goes off. I think just pushing ourselves being better is another of our greatest strengths.
Your last album, Lovely, Little, Lonely, is pretty awesome. It seems you put a lot of yourself in it. How did you work on this record ?
Is there any more important song to you on this album ?
Garrett : I think Lost in Nostalgia is important too. It’s something really outside of the box for us. You know, most of the songs it’s just John, like he plays most of the songs on it.
I also like this song because it reminds me like something of David Bowie, low. At the same time, it feels like an incomplete song but the live makes the sound totally different.
John : Sometimes we can get really stoked by our own way. We can be too regide on arrangement like being too much focused on what we do and don’t think about it as one part. The huge difference this time is that we understood it’s important to let it go a little bit and not necessarily view songs in a standard way. It’s important using new eyes, new ears…
Garrett : We also had a song completely done that couldn’t have been on it but we decided to put that one because it fits together better.
John : This song is more like a bridge between songs.
Garrett : And it fits the record more than the other ones.
You have done many festivals last summer. How did the public react to the new songs ?
John : We are doing it for such a long time now that people are trusting us a little more.
I think when you are 19 and you are making songs for other 19 year-olds to listen to, there’s some level of like « I don’t believe you ». And now, we’re older, I’m 29, there’s a level like « Okay, he’s been through this ». And with festival there are people coming from all over the world to support us and we interact with them, not only in person but online as well. It’s fantastic. That’s why we’re on the road, why we have been doing this for more than 10 years and why we do what we do, it’s because we have such a strong united backing. The coolest thing that we are able to do is to travel and meet people. There was this festival where people came to our own town, where we lived and grew up. There was something unique about that. We’ll certainly never do it again but it was a special moment.
Is there a new song that makes the crowd go wild ?
John : Probably Bad Behavior.
Garrett : Maybe it’s the loudest we’ve ever done. There’s just a simple part to remember. You listen to the song once and you know it. Lyrics are easy, with the « yeah yeah »…It’s just one word. (Laugh)
The atmosphere of your videos is always radically different : Taxi is dark, How Do You Feel definetely old school, Bad Behavior is funny and intimate… Is it okay to say that The Maine has many aspects ?
John : My brain doesn’t really work visually. I hear things just automatically and don’t really open my brain to see beyond music. So we all try to put things on the table but in the end it’s usually just us singing something we enjoy. How Do You Feel is quite like The Animals‘ video for The House of Rising Sun. The all idea was : the old school talk show, like a late night performance. We wanted to do like The Beatles or anything like that.
I think we do have different aspects. We just make it up as we go.
It’s your first time here in this venue, right ? What can we expect ?
John : Whao, I don’t know.
Garrett : It’s gonna be different.
John : And sweat ! We can feel it on stage you know. It’s sold out so it’s an indicator of people’s excitement level. We are excited… We have no choice to be excited. (Laugh)The Technicolors and Night Riot are both really great bands to tour with. They give a lot of energy before we play.
And do you speak French ?
You have your french fans !
And what’s next ? New projects coming soon ?
To conclude, do you wanna say something to your French fans ?
Garrett :And shows here are pretty cool.
Photo credit : Chloé Bunel @ Above The Noise