An Interview with John O’Callaghan from The Maine: Crossing State Lines

In December 2011, Pioneer, the self-produced follow-up to two full-lengths and an EP by Tempe, Arizona native pop punk quintet The Maine, was distributed worldwide. This do-it-yourself style album brought the extent of this band’s listeners to a whole new plane. Anthem For A Dying Breed, a DVD released by the guys this year, is a documentary following the band throughout the trials they faced throughout the tumultuous recording process that was the album Pioneer. The group has maintained an ever-expanding, hardcore fanbase that has been the backbone of the rigorous tour cycle The Maine have been on this year.

As far as new material is concerned, this outfit has a few tricks up their sleeves, including a cover of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” featuring Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara. This fall, they will come full circle within that journey, as they’ll be performing nationwide, reaping the benefits of the success of their most recent record. Currently signed to Action Theory Records, the boys continue to prosper within their genre. Vocalist John O’Callaghan recently took some time out of The Maine’s demanding schedule while abroad in the UK to talk with The Aquarian about Pioneer, Anthem For A Dying Breed, touring and more. The transcription is below:

Where did your passion or the band’s passion for music stem from?

It’s kind of an ever-evolving thing. I think that the passion for music has got to be something that is just a part of who you are. I figure that I can attribute it to my family and to my dad, specifically just growing up around music, with music always being played. I think that definitely created something inside of me. I can’t really speak for the other guys, but the passion collectively is continuing to grow and materialize.

How do you, as a band, usually begin to write music in preparation for heading into the studio?

It begins with me and just ideas that I have. Once I have a good chunk completed, something to work off of, then we go into a room together and start figuring it out as a group. From there we go into the studio.

Your Anthem For A Dying Breed DVD was released recently. This was a DVD in which you documented the trials of doing it yourselves on Pioneer. Has this experience made you apprehensive about recording again?

I think it brought a lot of things to light. I think it has really just kind of given us a new pair of eyes. Who knows how we are going to do the next one, but I know that we can make it happen on our own. I think that will kind of continue to be our kind of mantra.

What are you listening to these days?

I don’t know, it always varies. It’s always changing. The constants are like The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Talking Heads—those are just like what is always floating around.

You guys are currently on tour in the UK. This tour leads right into your tour cycle in the States that will be non-stop for some time. How do you find the American audiences differ from your performance experiences internationally?

I don’t know, it’s been a great tour so far. It’s so hard to compare [these] kind of shows; I don’t think anybody is capable of doing so. I guess, obviously, the biggest difference is just the culture; the love for music is just the same. We are really fortunate that we get such support over here as well. We’re excited to head back home and see how those shows go.

Are there any bands that you have not yet toured with but would like to?

There are so many bands, but some big ones would be like The Killers. [That] would be a lot of fun, that is one that is fresh in my head—I think they just put out a new album.

How do you guys maintain a strong connection to your fans?

All the social media platforms are useful to promote music. It’s just something that is a necessary evil. It’s trying to balance revealing too much and giving too much away. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the whole shebang.

What do you and the band do on the road to stay entertained? How do you keep touring from getting old? Do you ever have any down time in other countries to explore a bit?

Yeah, fortunately, we do. We like to be out and about—well, we try to be. Over here, our schedule is pretty uh, kind of a struggle. I don’t usually wake up until about 1:30 in the afternoon. It’s terrible, but I don’t know, I suppose we are becoming adults and not drinking as much so we can wake up early in the morning and read the paper or something.

Do you guys have plans to take time off after the touring?

I suppose time off just as far as the road is concerned. There really is no such thing as down time. We like to think that we are pretty productive. We are taking a break, but I don’t know, we don’t even have plans of going back out on the road yet. We want to make sure that we create another album that we are all proud of and happy with. Once that is accomplished then we’ll be jumping back out on the road.

Is it possible for you to choose a favorite track off of Pioneer?

Um, you know what, it really isn’t because we love so many songs. We were just so relieved and proud of ourselves that we got to put it out there. I’d like to just think of it as a moment in time, as a collective kind of effort. Having to just pick one is kind of hard. I guess just the whole thing is our music baby.

When can your listeners expect to hear something new out of you guys?

I don’t know. The plan would be, I guess, if everything falls into place, would be to be in the studio in January. 2013, obviously, new music, but in the meantime, we have got a bunch of stuff coming out that will hopefully tide people over for the meanwhile. We have a song that we did for a compilation called Punk Goes Pop 5 or something like that; I don’t know what number they’re on. We did a cover song and we had our friend Adam [Lazzara] from Taking Back Sunday on it, so that will be relatively new. We’ll be putting out stuff that is just kind of in the loop of where we are at and what we’re up to.

Do you remember the first show that you ever went to?

Oh yeah, I mean the first big, big concert I went to was Jimmy Eat World and Green Day and Blink-182.

What was the last show that you were at?

Other than our show last night, I think the most recent one that I went to probably was an instrumental band called Tycho.

You are all originally from Arizona. How have you been treated when you play shows over here on the East Coast?

Yeah, we have had the opportunity to visit the East Coast, I don’t even know how many times. We have had good experiences everywhere.

What about New Jersey particularly, because you do have a decent sized fanbase here?

It’s always been great. We don’t really have time to kind of dive into the local scene. We played the Bamboozle Festival a couple times and New Jersey alone, I don’t even know how many times we’ve played it, but we have had great shows and great support every time we have been out there.

Once you guys do have time off, is there anything outside of the band that you’d like to accomplish?

Um, eventually I want to buy a motorcycle and a gun (laughs). I want to ride and to become a marksman.

What is the most significant lesson you have learned from your time in this band?

A lot about myself—staying true to who you are is very important. Having a good foundation to build off of. There are so many things that I could say that I have learned. There is a lot to be said for family and friends. Hard work goes a long way.


The Maine will be at Union Transfer on Oct. 24, the Best Buy Theater on Oct. 25, and the Starland Ballroom on Oct. 26. For more information, go to