By AUBREE STAMPER, Photo Editor
On July 22, one of Michigan’s hottest days so far this summer, a large crowd gathered at the Journey’s main stage at Vans Warped Tour to watch pop-rock kings and Arizona natives The Maine perform a range of hits from their funky-rock single “English Girls” to their classic anthem “Girls Do What They Want.”
Despite the harsh heat, the band and fans were as lively as ever. During “Am I Pretty,” their set turned into a dance party when vocalist John O’Callaghan urged the crowd to open up a circle for two young men to have a dance-off. “It’s not hard folks,” he joked, “you put one foot in front of the other and you do something weird with your hips, you know what I’m talkin’ about!”
From a funky-fun Warped set to rocking leopard print suits from head to toe on the APMA’s red carpet, and one in a dress, it’s safe to say that the guys in The Maine like to have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously.
When drummer Pat Kirch and guitarist Garrett Nickelsen met vocalist John O’Callaghan and guitarist Jared Monaco (and later guitarist Kennedy Brock) back in early 2007, no one knew just how far the band would go, the impact they would make, and the dedicated fan base that would follow them throughout their entire journey. A journey that consisted of five studio albums, a handful of EP’s, a few record label changes, and the start of their own label and management team.
With a 10-year anniversary coming up next year, The Maine are getting ready to head back into the studio to record their sixth studio album. Their last, 2015’s chart-topping American Candy, was full of fresh, upbeat tracks that resulted from isolating themselves in the desert of Joshua Tree for an entire month to record. A stark contrast to 2013’s very raw and dark Forever Halloween. Nonetheless, the band is still able to maintain their unique take on pop-rock hits from one album to the next while also experimenting with new sounds and directions in each one.
Since they “don’t like doing the same thing two times in a row” according to Kirch, the band doesn’t plan on completely secluding themselves like last time, but they do have plans to travel outside of their home-state of Arizona again to record the new album. The plan is to build their own recording studio stocked with their own equipment and take as much time as they need.
“At the end of the year we rented a house two hours north of San Francisco and we’re gonna build a recording studio in there…” Kirch said, “When it’s ours we can touch it, we can break it, we can do whatever we want and I think that gives us the freedom to make any kind of record that we want, because it can feel a little bit uncomfortable recording in other people’s places.”
For years, The Maine knew all too well what it was like to record in studios that their label told them to record in, and to create the albums that their label told them to create. A large reason why they ultimately created their own label in 2013, 8123 Records; a move that greatly helped the band musically and creatively.
“[American Candy] was the first record we did solely on our own gear and once we got into it, we felt very comfortable making music in our own way and I think we were striving to get there for the past few records,” Brock explained.
For this next album, all members have a clear idea of the direction they want to go in, unlike in the past. “I see it but I don’t know exactly what it is,” Nickelsen said, “but the way we’re all talking it seems like everyone’s on the same page”.
“It’s kind of like describing a color to somebody,” Monaco added, “It’s really hard to put into words how we’re feeling about it right now, but as far as being on the same page, we at least have that down. So it’s just a matter of getting in there together and figuring out what that is.”
Fans can’t expect this new album too soon though–even once they’re in the studio the band says they are going to take their time and be even more picky about each song, from the smallest details like a shaker or tambourine in the background, to make sure they love every single one that will be on the record. “The amount of care that’s gonna go into it is gonna be more than anything that we’ve ever done,” Kirch said, “We just know that that’s what needs to happen right now.”
They aren’t leaving their fans without new music at all while they prepare the new album though, as the band just released an EP on June 24.
Being no strangers to covering songs and loving to switch things up from the usual, the band decided the release an entire EP of covers, from old school hits on Side A (released on December 18, 2015) to more recent jams on Side B. The songs range from Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” to Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” a mix only The Maine could pull off and make their own.
“I think our favorite thing about is it feels like you can take on an identity of a different band,” Kirch explained, “We can try out things that we haven’t done yet on our albums and then implement them down the road.”
Music videos also accompany the songs, the most interesting being the video for “Steal My Sunshine,” something the band winged at the last minute. “I rubbed lotion on my friends,” Monaco laughed, “It was weird.”
Their favorite song to cover, though, was Drake’s famous “Hotline Bling.” “We covered it as if we were The Killers doing a Drake cover,” Kirch said.
“It was so far detached from what he originally recorded but it was still the same song,” Monaco added.
As Warped Tour came to a close in August, that means The Maine’s third run of the tour is wrapped up as well after only experiencing a few bumps on the road. One bump being when their tour bus broke down at 3 a.m. on their way from Cincinnati to Detroit and the entire band and crew had to split up and hitch rides with the rest of the tour.
“I think you realize that there’s a sense of community on Warped Tour,” Monaco said, “but it’s not until you really need everyone’s help when you really see how cool everyone can be, so even though it’s a bummer that we lost the bus, it’s kind of been a highlight.”
The mishap was also something that showcased the band’s friendship and closeness with one another. “It was sad because everyone was doing their own thing, but normally we’re all hanging out together all the time,” Nickelsen said.
The band mates even started a group chat and sent texts about how much they missed each other, even though it had only been less than a day since they split up.
You can check out The Maine’s albums while you wait for their next on Spotify and iTunes now!