The Maine: Getting Nostalgic for the Now

The past and the present are colliding on The Maine’s current Modern Nostalgia Tour. Featuring the Arizona quintet playing their last two albums–2015’s, American Candy, and 2017’s, Lovely Little Lonely–top-to-bottom and back-to-back each night, the band is in unchartered territory.

Despite having been a band for the course of 10 years and six albums, they identify these two records as the first to truly “showcase who we (The Maine) are as a band.” The five are eager to perform and highlight the contrasting vibes of these two paramount albums for their fans. Before embarking on the tour, lead singer, John O’Callaghan, and producer, Colby Wedgeworth–who worked with The Maine on both records–discussed the diverging recording processes, overlying themes, and what these records mean to them.

So, I’ve got some questions for you guys. Some of them you can both answer, and obviously some of them might be a little different perspective-wise. But to start, what made you guys want to continue to work together?

  Colby Wedgeworth: It’s fun!

  John O’Callaghan: I feel like there’s a mutual chemistry that we all feel. I don’t know, there’s zero kind of, lag,  to jump into that project because we’ve already gotten all the pleasantries out of the way, you know? So when we’re jumping into a project together, kind of just, we can get to work. I think that, you know, obviously it still takes understanding each other and even as we go, we learn more and more about each other.

But yeah, like Colby said, it’s fun. It should be, you know, I think that we try to create those elements of fun as individuals so that it still means something. But when it all kinda boils down, Colby’s right. It’s fun and it should be.

  CW: Yup, I think John pretty much nailed it there.

You guys are just on the same wavelength. It’s even going into the interview right now.

  CW: Pretty much. That’s why it works so well.

  JO: Oh yeah.

Now, in terms of the recording process, from American Candy to Lovely Little Lonely, what were some similarities and differences between them?

  JO: I think that, you know Colby, we were just talking and I think that the time period and the time frame in which they were both recorded, I think those helped kind of create a similar feeling because there wasn’t that much time passed in between. I think that allows for maybe a similar head space. You know, I think that the people that we both were at the time and were 10 years ago, making a record as opposed to now is vastly different. I think that differences that kind of arise are more so born out of location that we chose to record: in both time, both separate and both completely foreign and unknown before we stepped into the given space.

Joshua Tree was very much, just kind of, throw it all in – and it ended up really working out to our advantage. They had a huge pool room, like an indoor pool, and that really kind of helped create the drum sound and the control room was upstairs. We could see all the wiring downstairs in the guitar room. So that’s part of the challenge and that’s where a lot of it is kind of co-created.

Again, that is another challenge that adds some challenges and definitely adds some difference of opinion. You know, ‘cause, for me, I do not really know a lot about – or care a lot about – how a guitar amp should be mic’d and all that kind of shit. So you know, that has to be where Colby and Pat had to really collaborate and yeah, I don’t know a lot of differences.

  CW: Yeah, it’s similar in that both records, we recorded them kind of similarly. Like each time was in a house for a month long each time, so in that way it was similar. But the locations definitely had opposite vibes; one being a desert and one being on the cliff of the ocean. And with American Candy, John kind of wanted to do something a little bit lighter, a little bit happier sounding record than the previous one. And then with the latest record, they wanted to do something…I don’t know if dark is the right word, or how would you describe it, John? How would you describe it to be?

  JO: Not so much dark, kind of like this even, pale tone, where you can’t really tell if you’re sad.

  CW: Yeah, kind of somewhere in between. But, not negatively or positively, you know, converse more so, suspension just right in the middle.

  JO: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good word.

Now, when you guys end up going, I know you tend to record in different areas across the U.S. Is that something that the band kind of decides and Colby, you kind of just show up wherever it is that they’ve landed on this time?

  CW: Exactly, exactly. Yup, totally.

Now is that something that happens a lot when you work with other bands? Like where they kind of just move place to place with each recording.

  CW: No, not at all. Yeah, those two records that were the few times that I got outside of my town, so I really enjoy it. It’s like a vacation. [Laughs]

Nice! Now, in terms of the actual tour, so I guess John, you might have a little more to say on this part, but what made you want to do this tour, playing these two records specifically, back to back?

  JO: I think it all just comes from how excited we are about the now. I think initially, we got turned off by the bands that were doing the “ten year tour” with their records. And not only were they doing the ten year tour, but they were also sticking to the way it looked and the way it felt ten years ago, which felt so blah, felt so boring. It feels so boring. Like when you see it, it’s like “Ok! We get it. It worked ten years ago, but how have you changed at all? How have you grown and how have you learned? What’s going on now?”

So, for us, you know, it wasn’t in spite of anyone, because we’ll probably do something for Can’t Stop at some point. But I think we got such a great reaction from American Candy, which in turn, led me to want to write another record that we got to hopefully try to feel the same way that we did with American Candy, you know? Fortunately we have been blessed by people who have been really, really excited about what’s going on right now, and helping us try to push the narrative in our favor as far as, “Here’s the future, here’s what’s going on right now, here’s to the moment.”

So I think that we’ve tried to fit us in with our following. We’ve tried to kind of take their hand and, you know, I always try to think about this: Nobody asks us to play “Into Your Arms” anymore, and that is like, fucking crazy to me. You know, we have people, we’re doing arguably our best headlining show to date right now, and minus for a few people online we’ve been fortunate to have a following that kind of lets us express ourselves how we feel. And we’re trying to do everything we can to not lose their trust and to kind of keep them along for the ride, so we’re just so happy that people are excited about this tour. It would really suck if no one showed up. [Laughs]

Now, each album specifically, like you guys said, American Candy is relatively upbeat, Lovely Little Lonely, John, like you said, has that “suspension.” What do these albums individually mean to both of you? What do you think of when you think of each album?

  JO: I’ve said it since we recorded American Candy, and I’ll say it, probably until I die, but I think that American Candy is The Maine’s first album. I like to think that that was our time to kind of showcase who we were as a band. And after only becoming a band the record before, in my opinion, I kind of felt like Lovely Little Lonely, was the first cohesive album that we created, because we went from square one with the intention of creating something that had a start and had an end, and kind of seamlessly flowed in between. So, that’s what they mean to me, and on top of all that, it means that we, for the foreseeable future, we get to continue to be a band for a little bit and that, I think, is something that every band can only dream of. So, we are just so happy that people allowed us to do it.

  CW: Mine is a pretty simple answer. When I listen to each album individually, it just takes me straight back to when we were making it, you know? It’s like a time machine? Because you are sitting in the same house for months working on these songs over and over. It just, when you listen to it, totally takes you back. They were both really good times.

Awesome! And, is the prospect of playing these two albums – in full, live – kind of daunting, in terms of even how you guys are going to go into rehearsals?

  JO: You know, I think, that we’ve done…if it were up to Pat, I think we would be playing for four and a half hours each night. [Laughs] He just loves playing. Not that we don’t love playing, but he loves really trying to deliver the most that we can without tiring out a crowd. … I think as far as rehearsals go, I think the kind of approach that we are taking going into the tour is to play it to our benefit. I think we created a record in Lovely Little Lonely, that we won’t deviate much from when we get to the live setting, playing it from start to finish. Because we set out to write and record it that way.

I think we will take a little more liberty when it comes to making American Candy feel more interactive, more fun, a little less seamless, and a little more, I guess, human. So, I’m excited, we already have ideas, and we already have a pretty clear vision on how we are going to put it all together. Yeah, it is just an exciting challenge for us, that’s kind of another reason why we decided to do it; because every band can just go on tour, and obviously we need to balance out at some point, like we can’t have a completely unique tour every time we can go out. That’s definitely a goal for us and that’s definitely something we try to aspire to do, is to deliver a unique experience every time we come out, because, hopefully it keeps people coming back. It’s definitely an exciting challenge to kind of tackle.

For sure. Do you guys have a favorite song, both individually, from each album?

  CW: [Laughs]

I know, it’s kind of a loaded question, and it changes over time often.

  JO: For me, it definitely changes all the time. I think right now…I mean I haven’t listened to this stuff in so long, as far as actually listen to it, but we just started playing “Not Out of the Way Again” for the first time on our last European run and I don’t know, something about that song. I think I would choose that song for American Candy. And one that we have yet to play live is “The Sound of Reverie” off Lovely Little Lonely. And that one, to me, that one was part of the songs that I finished at the very end of the record with Colby. And, I don’t know, that one was one of the one’s that turned out to be really fulfilling. I get that and “Bad Behavior” are crazy to play live.

It’s a good time?

  JO: Well, I keep saying it, but it’s like I killed myself for this last record for the lyrics, and for the people that really sing the loudest its, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” [Laughs] It’s the funniest, most ironic thing that has happened on this record, so yeah, it’s a really fun song to play live. So, one that we haven’t played is “Sound of Reverie” yet. So, yeah, that’s my favorite.

  CW: Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with John on “The Sound of Reverie” That’s my fave, and then “English Girls” is my fave on American Candy. When we did it, like, I specifically remember the night where it all  kind of started to come together and everybody was freaking out because it was just getting so sick, so that is definitely a special one.

The last thing before I let you guys go is, when people listen to these albums, what do you hope that they take away from them?

  JO: You know, I said it when we were talking last, but hopefully these albums are whatever people need them to be. I think that is what music should be: whatever you need it to be. And I know that that sounds pretty boring, but that is what music has always been to me. It’s always been an escape. It’s always been someone to talk to or someone to bounce ideas off of when nobody was there. Yeah, I think that, for me, that’s what these two records hopefully will be, for someone, is whatever they need.

  CW: Yeah, I think John explained that really well, I’m going to stick with that.

Catch The Maine at The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Nov. 5, and at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on Nov. 9.