Sunday 24 November 2013

The Maine // Interview with John O'Callaghan & Jared Monaco & Live Review

The Maine, on tour with Anberlin has been taking Europe by storm; unfortunately Anberlin had to pull out of the UK dates. However Britain’s very own We Are The Ocean have been drafted in and are quite the worthy replacement.

Est.1987 headed down to check out the show, but not before catching up with The Maine boys beforehand. To read what they had to say to us about the new record, their DIY ethic and looking back at your school yearbooks and see all the action from the show, click below…

Jared Monaco & John O'Callaghan chat to Est.1987 backstage at Leeds Cockpit

Last time we caught up with you, you were over here on your Pioneer World Tour with This Century. Are you glad to be back in the UK?
JOHN [O’Callaghan, vocals]- Very glad; unfortunately it’s not as extensive as we would like, but we’ll be back soon for sure.

And being joined by We Are The Ocean
JARED [Monaco, guitar]- Yeah, there were some changes but we’re glad to be with those guys, they’re really cool.
JOHN- I think it complements the show really well and it’s cool because we played the first Warped Tour in Berlin and we caught their set by accident and they’re great.

The Maine storm the stage at Leeds Cockpit

Being British natives have they been showing you around?
JOHN- Tonight is the big one, they’re gonna take us around, cause some trouble [laughing].

Are you looking forward to Warped Tour UK?
JOHN- Yeah, we’re doing an acoustic and a full band set now so we’re really excited; we’ve heard so much about London Warped Tour last year so it should be a good time.

The Maine's guitarist Jared Monaco
And it’ll be a bit colder than Warped Tour USA…
JOHN- Absolutely.
JARED- Back home Warped is a sweaty mess, so over here it’s just getting adjusted to it.

The new album, ‘Forever Halloween’, came out this summer. It’s the second album you’ve independently released; did you learn from the release of ‘Pioneer’?
JARED- Definitely. ‘Pioneer’ was a learning experience for us, especially for our management; there’s a whole lot more that goes into it when you do it yourself. So I think that gave us more confidence to do ‘Forever Halloween’ completely by ourselves. We went into it with an idea of what we were up against and it’s been great; I think it’s nice to have all that extra control when you do it yourself. At the end of the day I think it’s totally worth it. 

The Maine's front-man, John O'Callaghan

Have you thought about the future, in terms of putting music out that way?
JOHN- Who’s to say at this point [laughing], we don’t know, which is kind of cool; all we can really control is where we go on the road and how often we tour. I would say that the main difference between this record and the last is that we recorded a lot less. We went in with more of a concise idea of what it was going to sound like.
JARED- With ‘Forever Halloween’ we hired producer Brendan Benson and went in with one third of the material; it was more focused. 
John backstage in Leeds
What made you switch the way you recorded and record everything live? Were you looking to try something new, or was it working with producer Brendan Benson?
JOHN- Brendan was definitely the catalyst, he inspired it all becuase that’s how he records. He’s of that age, even though he’s not that old, but it’s just that timeless rock and roll.
JARED- He’s one of the very few people who still believes in the power of a band being a band and capturing a vibe instead of trying to perfect everything. And that’s important for us, where we’re at as a band. For us to go into the studio and discover that was amazing.
JOHN- I think it taught us a lot about where we’re at musically and it’s crucial for what we’ll do in the future.

You have an acoustic EP “Imaginary Numbers” out in December and you’re playing a US acoustic tour next year which will be quite different from your big live shows…
JOHN- I think what’s great about it is that fans want to hear and see an acoustic EP and tour. For us we didn’t want to just record acoustic versions of songs that we’ve already done, so we recorded it ourselves, set up in a room and took a stab at it. What’s cool about it is that it’s extra material, some that didn’t make it onto the record and a few new tunes.
JARED- We’re excited to tour it too because you have to put yourself into a different mindset; you’re exposed on stage and for us we like to do things that keep the music fresh.
The Maine in Leeds
JOHN- It’ll be such a different vibe, and we’re trying to play in venues that have seats, auditoriums, so it’ll be different for people who come to our shows and that’s imperative for them to grow as music enthusiasts. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and not have to jump up and down and crowd surf.

You’ve been a band for nearly seven years now. Is there anything you would go back and change?
BOTH- You can’t [laughing].
JOHN- Most everything that we’ve done has been because we’ve truly believed in it at the time. You live as if to have no regrets; that’s not my quote, it’s somebody else’s, but it’s what we try to live by. You can’t dwell on it, because everything we’ve done has led us to this point.
JARED- I feel like if you look back without cringing then you haven’t made much progress [laughing].
JOHN- I’ve used this example many times, but look back in your yearbooks y’know; what the f**k were we wearing, who the f**k cut my hair [laughing]; that’s part of growing up. 

The Maine chat to us about working on the new album, Warped Tour and not regretting anything

You’ve changed your sound over the years – why do you think you’ve remained successful and fans have stuck with you?
JARED- We’ve been a band for seven years and there’s been so much between our first record and now. We’ve always try to have the fans engaged with what we’re doing and nothing was ever forced.
JOHN- It’s a good question; it’s one of the mysteries of music [laughing]. I would like to think too that it’s something people can relate to and are a part of. We’ve never been a band to put ourselves on a pedestal; I’d like to think that fans feel they’re a part of it all.

Do you put pressure on yourselves?
JOHN- Yeah, absolutely.
JARED- We push ourselves; we try to work for it and it’s awesome.
JOHN- I think we put pressure on ourselves because we’re trying to be better, it’s not because we’re trying to make something that people will like. We don’t cater to people and I think that might be a reason why people continue to be with us, because it’s coming from a sincere place. As soon as you try to manipulate your sound to cater to an audience, that’s when the flash-in-a-pan stuff comes, you fade out quickly. It’s good to want to be better.

The Maine, out on the road with We Are The Ocean

And here’s what happened when The Maine took to the stage…

We Are The Ocean put on a stellar performance at The Cockpit
We Are The Ocean didn’t disappoint and, although were latecomers to the line-up, set the bar high. And by the time that Arizona five-piece, The Maine, take to the stage expectations are at an all time high. After parting ways with their label and going it alone, the Tempe rockers have gone from strength to strength with the freedom which they now have. We caught up with the band on their Pioneer world tour this time last year, and since they then have been working even harder to fulfill their “DIY” ethic; they come out stronger than ever as they break into the anthemic ‘Listen To Your Heart’. The set is the perfect mix of old and new; the “does what it says on the tin”, ‘Happy’, taken from the new album is euphonious while ‘Like We Did (Windows Down)’ throws things back a little to classic tracks.

John O'Callaghan serenading the Leeds crowd      

The Maine’s sound has evidently evolved over the years; but their fans are more adoring than ever before, which is true testament to their music. They are as dynamic and relevant as they were and they certainly know how to write a catchy chorus and they have their live show down to a fine art. They mix things up a little with the slower acoustic number, ‘Some Days’, with its vintage rock feel, before breaking into the upbeat ‘I Must Be Dreaming’. Front-man John O’Callaghan, as spontaneous as ever, heads up for a little climb on the speakers and serenades the fervent crowd below. ‘Don’t Stop Now’ is filled with delicious riffs, while ‘Love and Drugs’ is grittier and filled with layered melodies and building chorus. The night is coming to an end but definitely isn’t winding down; energy levels on stage never fail to dip as the soaring ‘Inside Of You’ resounds through The Cockpit. Free from the pressures and demands of a major label, The Maine seem more content than ever on stage tonight. ‘Girls Do What They Want’ even incites a little crowd participation. John gets a guy and girl on stage to help him along; the band is having fun, the crowd is certainly having fun; tonight is a resounding success. A band for nearly seven years, The Maine certainly look and sound stronger than ever before and the show tonight remains true to themselves and feels honest. The night ends with the epic, ‘Misery’; beginning slowly with a few effortless guitar twangs it builds and rises into a bold and gritty rock song. An impressive guitar solo and a powerful chorus, it is the highlight of the evening.

The Maine is undoubtedly popular with the female fans but, beyond mere aesthetics alone, their live set is musically tight and they know how to put on a show. They told us earlier that they tend not to look towards the future too much, however, we think after tonight’s performance that their future isn’t looking too bad. 8/10

The Maine's John O'Callaghan

We Are The Ocean's Liam Cromby

Photo credit: Danny Peart Photography. 
For more live and backstage shots-