The Maine Interview

Following the release of the deluxe edition of Forever Halloween in June 2014 and the Farewell Forever Halloween Tour, the men of The Maine are hitting the road to promote their fifth studio album, American Candy. The Maine consists of John O’Callaghan (vocals), Garrett Nickelsen (bass), Pat Kirch (drums), Kennedy Brock (guitar and vocals), and Jared Monaco (guitar). We spoke with John O’Callaghan about the release of American Candy on March 31 and their American Candy tour, which started April 3. And as for an international tour? That’s in the works, and the guys are ready to share their new tunes around the globe.
Cliché: Where did come up with the title American Candy?
John O’Callaghan: It actually sparked when we were in Australia. Garrett and I were walking around, and there was a sign outside of a convenience store that said “American candy.” The placing of the two words together resonated with me. I didn’t title the album for its literal purpose. I didn’t want to thematically stick with something consistent throughout the album. I think that you’ll find a lot of the songs don’t necessarily fall under the same umbrella. To me, American Candy means the kinds of things that we experience daily, the gluttony and the things we are bred to practice from a young age. It’s like anything without a heartbeat. I didn’t want to go all political with it, but it was more so acknowledging about what I dislike about popular culture and where we’re at as a society, and combining that with earnest songs that come from the heart, whether they are about those things specifically or not. I wanted to write from a real heartfelt place and put our heart into something we can stand behind. There’s a title track that kind of encompasses what the title is for me.
What’s your favorite song off of the album?
There’s a song on the album called “Am I Pretty?” that I think did a 180 for me from the tape. I’m really proud of that one. I’m excited for people to hear it and hear what they have to say about it. It’s funny because when you’re not on the road, everything is exciting as far as our new stuff. Once we get out on the road and start to play songs, there are going to be stand out ones for us.
Do you have a favorite lyric from a particular song?
There’s a song called “(Un)Lost” that goes, “Control what you can, confront what you can’t, and always remember how lucky you are to have yourself.” I think the biggest transition in headspace from the last CD is just the acceptance that not every day is gorgeous and sunny and cloudless, but being okay with that and accepting who I am as a person, and not necessarily settling and being complacent.
With this being the fifth studio album, how would you say the band has transformed over the years?
This record, for the first time, is a real focused effort on groove-oriented structure. For someone that listens to more than just the structure of a song, the rhythmic section for drum and bass shine through. The bass stands out more than it has in the past, and the drums have their own flow. I feel like we got to the point where our second record, the producer was telling us to keep everything straight. That works for a lot, and that worked for us at the time, but I think we wanted to branch out. That’s what’s different with this record. It’s a lot more bouncy and bubbly, but not in terms of not taking it seriously. The second difference is that I vocalized my goal for the lyrical aspect and the songs in general to the guys for the first time. It’s all usually kept under wraps, and this was one, I focused on telling them that I wanted to make a record that made people feel better, not an escape as a crutch, but an escape about what I love about music. It’s something consistent in my life that I can turn to, so I really vocalized to them, and we got on the same page and wanted to make a record that makes people feel something.
What can people expect on the upcoming tour?
First and foremost, we are bringing out bands we haven’t been associated with in the past, like Real Friends and Knuckle Puck. Warped Tour was the first time we met Real Friends. After watching their shows, I’m excited for the energy they are going to bring, and I know that’s shared by their brethren, Knuckle Puck. We also get to bring out a band we’re fond of from Arizona, The Technicolors. They’re just finishing up their EP, and they’re so talented. It’s exciting to start the show off. For us, personally, we are putting more thought into the production aspect of things. We haven’t really forked over the money for lights and stuff like that, so that’s going to be a major focus on this one. We’re getting less stingy, so hopefully that translates to a cool visual to accompany the set. And then a lot of new songs.
What’s one of the best parts about touring?
I went to a show last night and seeing someone onstage, I had the biggest smile on my face because of the smiles they had on their faces. I just want to feel that again, but remember what it’s like to be on the opposite side and provide that for other people. I miss performing. I’m excited to get back on the road, and I think that’s the number one. We get to play music for a “job,” and that’s pretty incredible. I’m fortunate and very humbled by it all. And not to mention, we get to do it with really great people. Everybody that we tour with is really close knit. I’m excited to see a lot of the guys I haven’t seen in a while because we live across the country, so that’s a huge plus.
On the opposite spectrum, what is one of the worst aspects of touring?
Probably just the daily grind. It becomes repetitive because of the obvious. We play a show and leave that night and drive all night to wake up in the parking lot of another venue. It can become monotonous, so we try to do things. It’s funny too, because as we get older, we feel comfortable with exploring the areas we’re visiting. I think that when you’re younger, you’re excited about the venue and where you’re at. Now that we’ve done it a few times, we love to branch out a bit more.
Side note: the light blue vinyl color is phenomenal. Did you guys pick that?
Vinyl is having a huge resurgence. I’ve been a fan since a very young age because my uncle and father and older cousins were audiophiles. It’s really cool that we can press things, and people want to purchase them. I know what it’s like, and I can’t wait to open it up and see it in a larger form than a compact disk. I think the first one we pressed was for the last record, and we did orange and something else. It’s cool to know that you have the option of doing different colors and making it more visually stimulating. We liked the idea of being able to goof around with colors.
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Photographed by Dirk Mai

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