This week, Average Bear Reviews will be taking a break from reviews. I had the honor of interviewing the band The Maine on April 25 at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago.
After listening and reviewing The Maine’s latest record and admiring it so much, I decided to grab tickets to their show in Chicago at The Bottom Lounge. I knew it was a long shot, but since we were going to make the trip anyway, I decided to throw The Maine an invitation for an interview before the show. They replied, got me in contact with their tour manager, and before I knew it, I was standing outside of their tour bus.
I walked into the bus and before me stood the whole band in the flesh. I took a deep breath and composed myself, making sure to come off professionally (though, let’s be honest, I was as cheery as a schoolgirl). I shook hands with everyone and sat down in their lounge area. In front of me was John O’Callaghan (lead singer), Jared Monaco (lead guitarist), and Patrick Kirch (drums). The other two members stayed in the rear by themselves due to limited room in the bus. From here, the interview began.
M: So, how was the show last night? (This would be their second night in Chicago)
Jared: It was great! Last night was easily one of the best shows we have ever played. It was fantastic. We love the crowd here in Chicago, it’s always a great time.
M: That’s great to hear! Chicago is my area for concerts, so I love to hear bands enjoy playing here. So, let’s talk about “American Candy.” What was the inspiration for the title and the cover art?
John: Well, the cover and the title correlate with one another. I wanted to represent a very eerie and perfectionist, utopian kind of feel. The title represents everything I don’t enjoy about society and all of the different devices that are fed to us on a daily basis.
M: Sure, so kind of in relation to your song “Vanilla”?
John: Yeah, actually, that’s exactly what it’s all about.
M: Awesome, that’s a great avenue to explore. Now, on the album, every song feels very light hearted and cheerful, except for the track “24 Floors”. Could we talk about this track in specific?
John: I think it was an important song for the record. It brought the album back a bit to the mindset of our previous work and shows a bit of what I was going through at the time. We didn’t want to completely abandon all of that thinking on this album, but I think it’s optimistic and still fits in with the rest of the vibe. It’s not necessarily following the negative aspects of that topic. There aren’t any ballads on the album, and we felt this was the closest we would come to that.
Jared: Yeah, it is definitely the most serious topic on the entire album for sure. Even though that’s true, I still admire that about the album, that although it’s upbeat and happy it still brings it down to earth at times.
M: Definitely. It certainly rounded it out nicely, which is one of the reasons this album is so great. I noticed that the last three albums you’ve released (“Pioneer,” “Forever Halloween,” “American Candy”) have had faces on the cover. Is there any reason behind that?
John: I actually did an interview a few weeks ago and they pointed out that we went from Halloween to Candy and thought that was interesting. To be honest, it is definitely not on purpose.
Jared: Our fans are very good at reading in between the lines and finding these types of things. In reality, it’s really all coincidence.
M: So, to get back on topic, let’s talk about the band’s history. It’s obvious you have changed a lot since the beginning, and specifically in your sound. The first record seemed to be much pop-ier than your recent attempts, but that pop flare is back on “American Candy.” Would you say you have been trying to do away with that sound and are now starting to embrace it, or has it always been prevalent in your writing?
John: I think if you listen to the songs, they all follow that formulaic verse-chorus flow that you will find in a lot of pop music.
Jared: Yeah, and we have said many times that we see our music as pop songs disguised as rock songs.
John: The biggest obstacle in writing out first record was that it was the first time for me to ever write music and in a lot of ways I look at that album and I realized I was pulling from other sources for inspiration. “American Candy” is certainly the first album where I feel that what I’m saying is embracing the writing we did eight years ago but on my terms.