POZ Interview: The Maine

by Zack Zarrillo - Nov 6, 2012

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PropertyOfZack had the chance to chat with John O’Callaghan from The Maine a week or two ago for a great interview. John and I discussed the band’s current tour, permanently being off of Warner Bros. Records, recording a new album over the next few months, and their plans after that. Check it all out below!

We’re at the start of your co-headlining tour with Mayday Parade. How have the first shows been?
It’s been a lot of fun. We did three college shows prior to this, and we’ve had about four shows going back and forth with each of us headlining. We’re stoked to have The Postelles out too. I think it’s a great way to start things off. We haven’t toured with Mayday in the States in a few years now.

This is the third major tour in support of Pioneer. Have you seen more and more of a build?
It’s great to see the same faces and more personal accounts of what it means to people. That means a lot to us because we put a lot of hard work into it. It’s gratifying to see the progression and to grow up with these people.

Fans were shocked at the beginning of the Pioneer cycle with a progression of sound and lack of a label. Do you think most have been able to connect with the album by now?
I’m not really sure of how much it’s sinked in for people, but just the fact that we’ve done three tours on this album is enough for us. That’s something that we don’t take for granted.

We know it was important to release Pioneer artistically speaking, but was it somewhat terrifying to go without a label on this one?
Of course. There was a lot we had to learn from the distribution side of things. There was a lot our management had to figure out and make up along the way. The relationships you don’t realize labels have pre-existing, that’s something that we had no idea how hard an obstacle that would become. That being said, I think in the future, we’re in a position where we’re unsigned. We’re signed to our own label. For us, that was also the biggest win. Not only putting the record out, but finally breaking free of the record label and being on our own. 

Last month The Maine released Good Love.
We’re trying not to over-saturate the set with those songs. Some of Pioneer in general is new to some, and hopefully to most. The idea is to get in front of new people while maintaining the relationships. Online, people are stoked on the EP. I think people realize that they’re b-sides. We’ve tried to make that clear. 

Anthem For A Dying Breed, the band’s DVD, is coming out soon as well. How was the screening for the DVD in Arizona?
The reason that it got delayed was because we had to make final edits. It wasn’t necessarily up to par at the form it was at. After the screening, we’re very stoked and ready to release it. We have a lot of stuff that will tide people over for a while. After this tour, we’re heading into the studio in January, hopefully. We’re going to try our hand at making another album.

Have you guys worked through most of the songs on the album yet?
I have quite a few written. I have the majority of parts for songs, but in December is when we’ll get into a room and hash out all the songs and go from there.

So the first good half of the year will be spent recording?
Absolutely. I want to have a very precise focus on this next album and to make sure that it’s a finished thought of a record from start to end. Not that Pioneer wasn’t, but the freedoms that we enjoyed also made it so we created 27 songs. It wasn’t a very focussed effort. I think the focussed aspect of it all came down to pushing it to 13. I think  we’ll come in with a lot less material and once we’re at a point when we’re confident with the material, that’ll be the album.

We’ve seen three transitions, musically speaking from The Maine. Is there another coming?
I would like to think there will be. I think the coolest thing is that through all those transitions people have stuck around. That’s the most important part. If they had abandoned us after making the second one, that would’ve been a fork in the road. We want to make whatever it is that we want to make, but we also want to be proud of it. That’s the sole focus. It’s not going to be a metal record or a top 40 pop record. I think the experimentation will be watered down a bit. I think, first and foremost, that we come from a pop background. That’s how I write songs. The fact that the songs are still coming from me and the guys is what will continue our identity.

It’s interesting. A lot of the bands that The Maine grew up with went through a similar major label transition, but those bands also didn’t change their sounds. And many of them are not in good places, but you have transitioned and progressed. Is it rewarding to know that no restraints has been a success?
I think it’s very transparent when people don’t push themselves artistically or creatively. You can assume listeners will be fickle, it’s disrespectful to regress and to move backwards to try to appeal to the people that you first appealed to. I think that’s offensive. People grow up. To assume that you’re going to have them crawl back to you is very pompous. We’re not trying. This just is what it is. We couldn’t be more fortunate to have more people follow us. It’s worked for us. It’s risky, but I think if we’re doing something that we really support, if we fail, failure is relative. Being able to put out music and be touring is a success.

So, no Warner?
No Warner. The ideal position is to pay for the recording ourselves, have an album done, and see what happens from there. Whether that means signing a one record deal with somebody or trying our hand again independently. We’d also like to create worldwide distribution. We hadn’t had the means in the past. We recently teamed up with a record company from Italy that combined Pioneer and The Good Love together. We finally had physicals a year later. We’re interested in seeing our options. We don’t know who’s going to produce it yet, but we want to be in the hands of constructive criticism.

That fits more in your vision of Pioneer, but with focus.
Absolutely. The leash will hopefully still be long, but it doesn’t mean that we won’t be scalded. 

A summer or fall release would be nice as well for you guys?
That would be ideal, barring anything crazy. In a perfect world, that’s what’s going to happen.

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    I was really hoping that the experimentation on Pioneer would continue into this next record, and that the sounds of...