Interview: The Maine
Fri, 16 Jul 2010 11:14:59
The Maine really color outside the lines on their latest album, Black and White.
Over the course of the record's ten tracks, The Maine give pop a vibrant rock 'n' roll edge. From soaring guitars to lyrical storytelling, the Arizona quintet stirs up the perfect summer album from the unforgettable "Right Girl" through the final strains of "Color." Each harmony comes off as hypnotic, heartfelt and downright fun. Black and White is as colorful as popular music gets these days…
While they allowed fans to watch them for 24 hours during Black and White's release this past Tuesday, ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino sat down with The Maine—John O'Callaghan, Garrett Nickelsen, Pat Kirch, Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco—for an exclusive interview about Black and White, Will Smith and the possibility of an acoustic record.
Do you feel like you've preserved your identity but taken the music to a new place on Black and White?
John: This time around, we just had a clearer idea of what we wanted to sound like, given all the music that we had prior. We were able to sift through what we enjoyed about our previous songs, take the highlights out of those and try to amplify and exemplify them through the new music. Howard Benson definitely vibed with the idea of creating a cohesive sound, and the whole team over at Bay 7 made that a point. We gave them a couple examples of records that have a clear sound and an understanding of what they wanted to be, so we tried to follow suit a little bit. The new stuff we're already writing is a little bit different. We'll take it one album at a time though [Laughs].
Jared: We tried to leave it open-ended so we could go any direction that we wanted to.
What records did you give Howard?
John: We told him that we really enjoyed Third Eye Blind. They listened to the self-titled Third Eye Blind record, but they also listened to Tom Petty.
Pat: A week before we went in with them, they started listening to all of those records, and they had an idea of what amps they wanted us to use and what general approach they wanted to take on the album.
Black and White is definitely cohesive from start-to-finish. Did you go into the studio with that complete vision or did it come together when you started working?
Jared: We went into pre-production for Black and White with a lot of material. We had about 45 demos or so. We'd really been planning it for awhile; it started pretty much as soon as the first record dropped. The sound started to take its shape once we got into pre-production. After we narrowed it down to those ten songs, we realized that we had more of a rock record on our hands than maybe we had set out to make.
John: Demoing is such a delicate process because nobody really understands where a song's going to head until it's actually thrown down on track and recorded. I feel like we had an idea. In my mind, the songs we were writing could've gone a million different ways. They could've been really pop-influenced or tried to maintain some sort of rock balance. It's such a vulnerable position for a song to be in when it's in that demo stage because there's no real solid foundation yet. It's an acoustic guitar and vocals. That's where Howard really stepped up and played a huge part in making us who we are right now.
If Black and White were a movie, what would it be?
Garrett: Independence Day! Just kidding…
John: That's a tough one.
Jared: I'm thinking of films that are in Black and White.
John: I saw this movie called Sideways. The whole movie has kind of a sideways plot. It doesn't really go anywhere, but it's very real at the same time. It's real life; it's not Hollywood glitz and glamour. It's figuring out yourself, figuring out relationships and figuring out what you're doing here. In my eyes, that'd be a movie that I'd compare it to.
Mixed with Independence Day…
John: [Laughs] Of course!
What's the story behind "Color?"
John: I think I wrote that prior to Warped Tour and pieced it all together on Warped Tour. It's got a nostalgic feel to it. For me, it's about my parents—how big of a role they've played in my life, how their message is very important and how their message is cohesive with my message. You've got to listen to this song and figure out what the message is [Laughs].
Garrett: It's the first song that we did an outro to that really had nothing to do with the song. It was a total jam.
Pat: That's how the record ends, but we didn't write the part thinking, "This is how the record's going to end." We just thought it worked for the song. It happened to be a really awesome way to end the record.
You've gotta get a Will Smith cameo on a remix. He can drop some verses; I don't think he's done that in awhile.
John: I don't even know if he has to do some verses. He can just do a couple, "Ha, ha's." [Laughs]
Jared: He doesn't even have to cuss in his raps to sell records [Laughs].
John: Didn't he curse up a storm in Bad Boys?
John: He's an oxymoron.
He's a real enigma. What's up with "Right Girl?"
John: Jared and I wrote that with Butch Walker out in Santa Monica. He's one of the coolest dudes we've met.
Jared: That was one of the most fun sessions we've had writing a song. We sat for a little bit trying to figure out the lyrics and then we just cut that demo. The original was much slower.
John: It was very lethargic! The experience was cool. The song's pretty self-explanatory. It's about drinking too much and regretting things you do in the process—or things you don't do—which if you drink, you know all about that [Laughs].
Will Smith doesn't do that.
John: No, he doesn't have to [Laughs].
Is there any chance you'd do an acoustic album?
Jared: We've toyed around with taking songs we already have and turning them acoustic. Our Christmas EP was pretty much all acoustic. I think that would be really fun to see what we come up with.
Which records shaped you guys?
John: I can't escape The New Radicals record. From start to finish, it's one of the best records I've ever listened to.
Jared: Garrett got me into Ryan Adams over the past two years.
Garrett: John got me into them [Laughs].
Jared: His style of playing guitar was so unique and I wanted to incorporate that with any rhythms we had for verses on the record. He was a huge influence for me. The album is Love Is Hell.
Have you heard The Maine yet?