INTERVIEW: The Maine at Slam Dunk Festival 2017

Arizona’s finest The Maine clocked an impressive decade together as a band earlier this year. Their punchy brand of alternative rock has seen them build a legion of fans worldwide, and release seven impressively diverse studio albums throughout their ten years. We caught up with the band at Slam Dunk North to chat all about Lovely, Little, Lonelytouring, and an abundance of people called James.

How was the show yesterday?

John O’Callaghan: It was great!

Jared Monaco: We got over our jet lag pretty quick and we had a good set.

Kennedy Brock: You’re over your jet lag?

JM: Yeah, I feel better, do you feel better?

KB: No!

JM: Okay, let me revise that, I got over my jetlag pretty quick or faster than I thought I was going to, and I had a great day.

JO’C: It was our first show at Slam Dunk ever and it was great, people showed up and didn’t boo. We had a boy named James on stage. He killed it, best James yet. There might be a good James tonight, I don’t know. We’ll see!

There’s always someone named James in the crowd. It gets hard, especially when you don’t know anybody’s name. It’s just the luck of the James’.

This is your first time playing Slam Dunk. Was it what you expected?

JM: I was expecting indoors for some reason, I don’t know why, but yeah it’s been great, it’s cool.

JO’C: It’s very reminiscent of Warped Tour back in the States, and we’re really used to it so we feel right in the mix here.

Your sixth studio album dropped in April, are you going to be playing anything from it today?

KB: Yeah, we’re playing three songs from it.

JO’C: The three best songs… so far.

KB: We’ve only played three songs, for them to be the best three so far would be an accurate statement.

Is it ever nerve-wracking playing new songs?

JO’C: Yeah, it’s nerve-wracking playing in front of people who aren’t familiar with your material but I was thinking about it last night laying in bed, having to fight for it is really important, especially us coming off our tour in the States where we’re headlining and people are more familiar and the crowd is here already in the palm of your hand.

Fighting for it and having to dig a little bit more makes it that much more fulfilling at the end if you have a good one obviouslyif you have a bad one you chalk it up and then blame it on James!

But yeah it’ll be interesting, at least today we have cool scenery, so if nothing else we have that going for us.

Do you prepare for shows that are festivals like this differently to the way you’d prepare for headline shows?

JM: Preparation isn’t differentwe still drink and mess around before, but preparing the setlist is always different.

We just talk about it and we pick bits that we feel likeobviously the new songs are what keeps things energetic and fresh for usbut we use old devices that we’ve formulated along the way and we feel go over well in front of people who know us or don’t alike. – so yeah, it’s definitely difficult having so many songs now and having 50 minutes to play- that’s about 10 songs for us so it’s not getting easier!

How have people been reacting to these new songs?

JO’C: Really good.

KB: So far so good.

JO’C: I mean, usually it takes a little bit for people to have fun with it, this record has probably been the most instantaneous in that. Some of the other records it’s taken six months and being on tour for people to start jumping around and singing along so that feels good.

JM: Yeah, people are making us feel nice.

Why do you think that is?

JM: I mean, I’d like to say it’s just a mystery, it probably is, to be honest, there’s only so much that we can do on our end, but we set out to paint a bit more in broad strokes on this record, especially lyrically.

I think with everything from the arrangements of the songs, we tried to learn from our previous records and, I think getting to the point a bit quicker in our songs made the difference this time around. There aren’t a lot of parts that are just gristly, I think there’s more meat to it.

You guys tend to jump around a lot in terms of sound with your music. Is this intentional or is it just kind of happen organically as you write?

JM: It’s intentional in the idea that we intentionally are on the same page when it comes to each record, but it’s not effort to deviate like “We have to sound different this time around.” I think it’s really indicative of what we’re listening to.

JO’C: When we record we know when it’s time to record in a different waywe’ve done a record completely live, we’ve done a record that recorded piece by piece, and each way that you do it and who you’re gonna work with, even if the songs are coming from a similar place, you’re gonna get a different result. I think in that way that’s the only thing we do that’s a calculated move.

You’ve been together for 10 years now. How do you feel like you’ve evolved since your inception – do you still get the same feeling from performing?

JO’C: It’s different for me now, as far as the gratification that comes from it. I think 10 years ago personally I was probably taking it more for granted, and now that we’ve done it for so long it’s very fulfilling.

JM: I think knowing the waves of thingswhen things are going really well it feels a certain way and when it’s not, it definitely sucks.

JO’C: Makes you appreciate the whole process!

JM: Yeah, now we know what it’s like to have both things so you definitely appreciate it.

JO’C: I think our identity crisis is over or at least we’re comfortable now with who we are as a band and we’re not concerned with a whole lot of outside noise. We’ve always kept our heads down but now we can hold them high and be proud of who we are as a band and know that we’re good people. I’m pretty sure. We try to be!

What would you say was the most rewarding part of being a musician?

KB: We get to live outside of the matrix for lack of a better word. We get to live and see things differently to other people. It’s really nice that music has been such a big part of all of our lives and at the same time provided so much opportunity for us. It’s really unconventional to be a musician and get on a plane and travel the world then get in a van and drive to festivals or shows.

It gives you a different perspective on things, I think it makes you a more rounded person. You get to travel, there’s a lot of things about it that are really fulfilling even though there’s a lot of sacrifices.

Connecting with our fans, having a fan base that sticks around and supports you for however long. We’ve been doing it for 10 years so that in itself is extremely rewarding, to know that there’s this large group of people who support us pretty much every step that we take.

JM: And they can take something away from what we do, and it benefits them too.

You recently founded and headlined a festival in Arizona. How did that come about?

J’OC: We have always had other bands that we’re friends with and like to play music with and have consistently. There’s been a crew of people that have been around us for the past 10 years so we just figured why not bring all those people to one place?

I think for our fans, they have seen us play with all these different bands on different tours, so it was like “Let’s just bring it all into one place.”

What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?

J’OC: More touring.

KB: We have a lot of touring.

J’OC: We’re gonna be back in the UK in September doing a full headlining tour.

Are you excited for that?

J’OC: Very excited! Especially after this.

JM: We’re playing Koko in Londonwe haven’t played there in a long time! It’s a cool venue so we’re rather excited. And we’re bringing our buds over in The Technicolors so that’ll be cool. We’re having 18 people on a busmore than there are beds!

Are you excited for The Maine’s UK tour? Let us know @CelebMix!

Written by Faith Ridler

Faith Ridler is a UK based student, music journalist, and twenty one pilots aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @FaithLRidler!