Via EightyOne TwentyThree

The Maine – It Comes With Age

The Maine is what one would describe as the working man’s emo. They were never handed anything on a silver platter and had to slowly grind for years in order for the world to see their full potential. This summer they are on tour with another one of the most prolific emo bands: Taking Back Sunday. With a ninth record in the making, the biggest tour of the alternative summer on the way, and the world ahead of them, there is no glass ceiling in sight.

In 2021, The Maine closed out their album with a song titled “Face Towards The Sun,” but they also furthered that hopeful sentiment by leaving the entire record off with this line: “Everything is exactly as it should be.” Although two years ago feels like a lifetime ago, that statement still rings true. Concerts have returned in full, pop punk is amidst a revival with incredible bands and festivals celebrating the genre, and, all in all, the world has never been more ready for new material from The Maine.

The Aquarian had the opportunity to catch up with the incredible Pat Kirch, drummer of The Maine, band we have worked with and adored for a long time. We discuss everything involved with Sad Summer, new music, working with friends, and the state of the genre they have a hold on. 

First, and the reason we’re on this call today, Sad Summer Fest 2023 is coming up, how are you feeling?

Pumped, man! We haven’t been on tour in… now I have to put some thought in this. The last full tour we did was in the spring of 2022, I guess. It’s been a minute since we’ve been everywhere. Yeah, it’s exciting times. We’re so used to touring everywhere that when we take a break to record an album, when you’re finally getting ready to head out on the road it just feels like, “Finally! The thing we look forward to the most is happening again!”

With The Maine, you guys are known for your stellar live shows with energy and excitement. How do you keep that energy up with every show?

Obviously the crowd dictates a lot of it. There’s just something when you’re seeing thousands of people having a good time, it’s really hard to be bored – it’s such a rush. It’s one of those things that we put such an effort into and trying to put on the best [show] we can. We rehearse a lot. By the time we get out there to do the show it feels like we don’t have to think about the songs anymore; you can just be in the moment. 

That makes perfect sense. I saw you guys at Riot Fest last year in 2022. 

Oh, nice!

I remember seeing from your perspective the crowd jumping up and down in unison. 

Yeah, it was nuts! When you get that many people and everybody is doing the same thing at the same time, it just creates this shock that is really hard to explain. When else would you ever see that happening? It kind of makes you feel like all the differences that people have in the world, seeing all of those people on the same page having a good time for a song you wrote is just… It puts things in perspective. 

Absolutely. The unison of not just the jumping, but of everyone in that crowd – they’re all connected by that one song. Everybody in that one moment is just together

You can’t beat it.

Talking about Sad Summer Fest, The Maine was on the very first Sad Summer Festival and helped spearhead it into what it is now. That’s got to be really cool to watch it go from clubs to amphitheaters.

It is cool. I think the original idea came from trying to fill this void where most festivals you go to – you have to pick and choose which band you want to watch because there are four stages and people are overlapping on times. What’s always really cool about Sad Summer is, you go and there’s one stage. You get to watch every single band. I think seeing it from where it began to where it is now, you know, to have Taking Back Sunday as the headliner this year who I think are arguably the most important band to come from this scene…. They have these songs that, to this day, are kind of like the anthems of this genre. To think of where Sad Summer began, nobody had ever heard of this thing before, and now we have enough brand recognition to attract a band like that, and to have passionate fans that care whose on the lineup is an incredible thing. It’s really happened in a fast amount of time. 

Oh, for sure! I agree. I think Taking Back Sunday is one of the most important bands ever. Period. Their influence will continue forever. 


You guys also did a song with Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, “Loved You A Little,” which also includes Charlotte Sands. I’ve got to ask as I know you are gearing up for this new record cycle, is that song going to be on the album? Is it too early to tell?

That song is not on the album. For us, we really like an album to be all made at the same time so that way all the thought process of all of it is the same. “Loved You A Little” just kind of happened and it was this magic moment. It’s a song that continues to live on. You never know throughout your career when you’re going to have a song pop up that reaches a bigger audience. For us, it has happened every three to four years. It’s one of those things you can’t ever expect but, when it happens, it’s awesome. For that song to do what it did, it is a special thing to be kept as its own song. 

That makes sense. It’s funny, songs like that just flow so perfectly. I think it’s concise. We brushed over it earlier, but to dive in, The Maine are currently writing album number nine. How is that process going?

So, we are fairly deep into the process. All of the music has been recorded and John starts doing vocals for it next week. We worked with Colby Wedgeworth who is the producer that we did American Candy (2015) with, Pioneer (2011), and Love Little Lonely (2017). I would say if there’s ever been a sixth member of our band, it’s him. Again, it’s the magic thing. Getting in the room with him every single time… there’s just something that works. It’s been almost seven years since we recorded an album with him. It felt really good to get there and we are just so pumped on the record. I don’t want to describe the sound I guess because it’s so hard to talk about music that I just want people to hear it. I will say we made an album in quotes. The thought process was never, “What’s the single? What’s this?” No, “let’s make an album,” was our headspace, It was really about making a 10 track record that’s great from beginning to end. I think we accomplished that.

I feel like with every record from The Maine, that holds up. I can’t just take a song off of XOXO (2021) and throw it on Lovely Little Lonely. That wouldn’t work. I couldn’t take an American Candy song and put it on Forever Halloween (2013). It wouldn’t work. Every album you do exists within its own sphere. 

Yeah! I guess we get bored. I don’t know what it is; we just follow whatever is happening in that moment. We do our best to really not try I guess. I mean, we try very hard and put effort into it, but we let it come to us: what the direction should be at the time. There’s been times when we say, “It’d be good if the next record was like this!” Then we start writing and if that vibe just isn’t happening, the songs are not going to be good. We just have to write the songs that are jumping out to us at that particular time. 

I understand. From a fan’s perspective, it’s exciting because whenever you announce a record, it’s totally unknown. It’s that excitement of, “I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I know it’s going to be unlike anything I’ve heard from them in the past.”

Yeah, I think that same excitement a fan might have for that is how I feel every time we go into making a record. I’m like, “I don’t know what we’re going to do here.” I think that’s what makes it fun to do this. If we were just trying to rehash a vibe we’ve done before and it wasn’t coming to us, but tried to force it because that’s what we thought people would enjoy from our band, we wouldn’t be making good records. One of the things I’m most happy about with our career and our band is there isn’t really a song we have to play – or an album. People are coming for the catalog of our band. Every time we put out a record, we take that very seriously. If we’re going to add an album to our catalog, we need to think it’s great. 

I totally agree. You could add any song into your setlist and it would still feel like The Maine. I remember the first time I ever heard “Flowers on the Grave” live – that blew my mind into a thousand smithereens. It was insane. Even though it’s a nine minute epic, you could throw that on at Sad Summer Fest and people would be just as hyped to hear it as the singles. 

For sure, which is crazy! Part of that might come from the fact that we changed so much with our sound and no matter how people had felt about it at the time, we believed in it and we just kept going. A trend that you see in bands is like, they put out a record that people loved, they put out a record that they experimented on and people didn’t like it so then they try to revert back to sounding like the album they did before. It’s never going to hit you like that first one did, you know? It’s always going to feel like a slightly less version because you’ve already been impacted in that way. We feel like the only way to impact people in that same way again is to continuously evolve what you’re doing. 

Always push forward and you’ll keep that forward momentum. If you try to do a throwback album, it’s not going to work because you’re not who you were 10 years ago. 


Another question I wanted to ask you about is obviously this Sad Summer Fest. You, particularly, as a band, started a really cool movement. For years in this scene, emo was almost a dirty word. It wasn’t as accepted as it is. You guys took that label and embraced it. Now I see so many bands that have emo merch and they’re proud of it, even using the term emo to describe themselves, but it’s hard for a lot of fans now in 2023 to realize what that word meant 10 years ago versus now.

For sure. I think maybe that comes with age. I guess I look at it like, if you could go back to middle school and know what you know now – that the cool kids or the kids that are bullies are actually bullying people because they’re insecure about themselves. You in your head think you’re the loser, but everybody’s just battling their own things in life, and sometimes it manifests itself in trying to hurt other people. Now, having perspective, you see everybody’s trying their best. Everybody comes from a different experience.

I guess people were so scared of the word emo because people were trying to use it as a way to make fun of people so it became not a cool thing to be in an emo band. Once you have perspective on it, you can see it’s just a word and doesn’t mean anything. All the word emo is short for is emotional. All music is emotional. It just happened this genre got put with this name. If you play jazz, you’re not going to push back on, “I am not a jazz band!” It’s just a word, you know? More than anything I have fun with it. Like I was saying earlier, it’s so hard to describe a song with words. You can’t do it justice, so any kind of label or a name… who cares? They want to put you in a box so they can explain to their friends what type of music they listen to. That’s why the name emo is so important. You can be like, “Oh, you listen to emo music? I listen to emo music! Let’s be friends!” If it didn’t have that name, it’s like “Oh, we’re a rock band.” It’s so much harder to connect with people because it’s such a broad term. That’s why I feel like emo is such an important thing for our band.

I’m 150% in support. I’m 24 years old and emo music has been the most important thing in my life for about 11 years now. It’s tough because when I first got into it, I had to call it ‘the scene’ or ‘counterculture music.’ I don’t know, but seeing this word finally get embraced in my own lifetime has been refreshing. 

That’s awesome!

Another question I have, going in a new direction, this is your fourth record with 8123 as an independent record label. It’s got to be such a cool thing not just to have an independent record label to release music through, but also to have fans love the label just as much as the music and the band. 

Having the name 8123, again, like the emo thing, is to have something for people to identify themselves around – that is so important. It’s so cool that people have embraced it. They identify themselves as, “I’m a fan of 8123 and all of that encapsulates,” and our band is only a small part of that. The friendships they’ve grown out of our band are just as big a part as the band itself. I just look at it as the freedom we have to put out music whenever we want, to do a festival called 8123 Fest, to do Sad Summer, to play by our own rules. A lot of times I don’t think we really feel like we’re in the music industry. I feel like we’re doing our own thing on the side. It’s what keeps it fun. It keeps it feeling not as much of a drag. It can be really hard to be on a record label where they are comparing you to other bands’ success and all these things that just lead to unhappiness. For us just to be in our own lane and focus on what’s  important:treating our fans well and making great albums, it’s been absolutely awesome.

I understand what you mean when you say 8123 has always been adjacent to the music industry. I’ve got to be honest, I have paid $100+ to meet an artist and spent two seconds of a “Here’s a picture. Ok. bye. Next!” and it’s been terrible. I’ve hated it. It’s almost the industry standard. You guys have been vocal about, “Why would you pay to meet another human being?” You do a lot of free meet and greets, free sessions with fans. It doesn’t feel like you’re a cog in the industry monster. It feels like you’re people.

I guess that’s just the truth. We are just people. Everybody begins as just a person like that. People get so caught up in the wrong parts of being in a band that it creates this wall between them and the fans. For us, it’s been important to try as much as possible to stay true to who we are as people and push that out there in the world as often as we can.