Interview by Kelsey Barnes / Photos by Daniel Hadfield and Winnie Surya. After dropping out from their label, five-piece rock band The Maine fought themselves to release music independently. With passion and non-stop supports from their fans around the world, the band did quite well on themselves; they had release two full length albums, an acoustic EP, and a live DVD through Eighty One Twenty Three Management and did countless headlining tours from North America to South East Asia. Last March, we got the chance to sit and talk with vocalist John O’Callaghan and guitarists, Jared Monaco and Kennedy Brock before closing their very first acoustic tour in Toronto.
Why did you guys decided to do an acoustic tour?
Jared: We just put out an acoustic EP; it’s called Imaginary Numbers. It’s the first time that we’ve done that, so it made sense to do an acoustic tour around it, I supposed. We did something kind of similar to this when [Pioneer] came out. We did like a strip down set but this one is more focus on; we worked a lot on all other songs so we could incorporate to the set and we obviously play songs from Imaginary Numbers too.
John: I think its forcing us to try new things and try experiment and see what work and what doesn’t. Its really – we’re trying to push ourselves as a band. Pat had an idea [about the neon backdrop] and I rolled off that and I mean, we had a unified if somebody has an idea; its kind of the way we write songs too. If somebody had an idea and if its unanimous decision.
Were there any challenges with the winter weather?
John: Not really.
Jared: We lucked out so far.
Kennedy: We had one drive for about ten minutes. It was kind of weird going through Denver. Other than that, its because we were in a van and we don’t familiar with it because it just a rental so we weren’t sure on certain part of the aspect of that.
John: Over here [East Coast] we knew its going to be cold so we had a couple weeks of prepare.
Yeah, its usually not like this. It’s the worst winter in twenty years.
John: That’s what everybody said. I believe you. Its just because we’re following the nasty weather.
Kennedy: I mean, we’ve been in this area in the winter too.
John: We’ve toured in the winter so…
Jared: I think the last time it was the first time I stood up in zero degree weather and I don’t think I ever experience that before. It was so cold.
John: It was six minutes we were standing up outside – waiting for someone for the keys. I was pissed out in the cold.
What is the meaning and significant cover for Imaginary Numbers?
John: Its symbolic in a couple different ways. It’s kind of representing the idea that makes you make your life you want to make. I guess you can kind of say the cake is your path and how do you decided to walk it. I mean, its obviously; there’s no specific kind of meaning behind it and it probably changes for me daily which is cool for me because I don’t want to give the same answer to interview either and that is the thought part but also I don’t feel it has to mean one specific thing.
With your forth album, Forever Halloween – I was wondering what inspired you to make the album sounds darker?
Jared: We wrote the same way we always write. John writes most of the actual song-writing itself and that didn’t really change much. We recorded it totally different; it’s all live and pretty much all analog that we did in the studio so we were just going all in one time – just recording every instruments which we’ve never done before. The record definitely has a feeling vibe to a going back to it. I think it’s a lot different than you isolate the guitar at one time. Its all in one room together, its all going, it just create. We didn’t intend for it to be a dark record. I’ve heard people saying it too and I don’t know.
John: I think its also just captures where my head was at as far as the lyrics are concerned and I think we tried our best to match the music with what best we saw fit. For me, there are so many optimistic stuff as well. I guess it just a little bit realistic with the age we are now and I was 18. I’m not saying we’re cynical now but I think we just more real about life and it goes on.
I was talking about that! With your albums and EPs, you guys really progress where there are some bands that kind of came out the same times as you guys; kind of playing the same type of music. Is this because of growing up factor?
John: I think its really important we don’t feel like we’re taking steps backwards. I’m not saying – for our band, I’m not putting label on others are doing or anything. I’m just telling you if we continued the same music, it’ll be out of fear that nobody going to like something different and for us, we embrace that fear and we strive out of it because it’s the same kind of fear that drives us to go on these tour; it’s the same fear that drives us to continue to put ourselves in line; to put ourselves in songs; it’s the fear that you’re not going to be a band tomorrow and that’s what I think – probably the big part of it and you see, a lot of bands going to the old sound. Probably they’re afraid they’re hitting a ceiling or something and for us, we’re fully invested in materials now – so it’s no looking back.
Jared: We found out people like that too. It is scary at first but our fans at least feel like they’ve been there for everything.
John: Its like the relationship between us and them. I think we might be a less accessible because we’re obviously not on the radio and stuff but I think our relationship with people that come to our show and experience the real thing. Ya know, concert going and music experience. That’s the most strong that ever been.
Why did you guys decided to play Vans Warped Tour after 5 years?
John: We look at is as a great opportunity!
Kennedy: It’s been that long since we’ve been around Warped Tour so it is nice we are able to. We have done other things; we’ve gone to other adventure and it’s a cool opportunity for us to play in front of people we haven’t played for awhile.
John: We kind of dissed ourselves from that crowd and those bands and its not because we didn’t have a good time at Warped Tour but it’s because we have to figure shit out for ourselves and we feel now that we’ve established an identity as The Maine and we’ve established who we are. At the same token, I feel like there are obviously plenty of people that unaware of what we’re doing and for us, we are going to take our work ethics and go out there and try to play to as many people as possible.
After leaving your label, how was the process change on the album?
Kennedy: Everything are more hands on not that [we] weren’t before. I think that we do it this way because we are so hands on want to be in control at everything we’re doing.
Jared: Our manager company had pick up a lot of slack like stuff record label would handle so its all done in a house now. Eighty One Twenty Three is like driving force behind everything that we do.
John: It’s a lot more modest and modest for us is a good thing at this point and its far more intensive and the people that truly care are truly care and find out about what we’re doing and it’s a working progress we’re learning everyday. Just like songwriting and everything else but we’re in a comfortable spot as far how we’re feeling about everything and we’re not getting too cozy and that’s why we’re doing a tour like this because we don’t really want to get too comfortable and content; we want to keep pressing out own.
Does it feels like you have 100% freedom when it comes to this kind of tour?
Jared: I realized it more and more that we can do whatever we want like we’re playing with Nick [Santino] now; he’s opening for our East Coast dates and on stage, we can do and say what we want unless if there’s curfew.
Kennedy: At the end of the day, we’re the one who signed out everything.
John: We have to play the music we have to play on tour…
Jared: And there’s nobody standing side stage with a keen.
John: Again, its all the learning process we’re trying to figure it out like everybody else but we have ourselves with the whole accountable so it’s pretty gratifying. Pretty fulfilling.
You’ve been buying back tickets from scalpers. How did you decided to do that?
John: It’s the first time its happening for us.
Kennedy: We kind of alerted we realized there were tons of tickets showing on things like Stubhub and at first, we don’t know what to do so we’re still figuring our the best future plan.
Jared: We tried to keep our ticket prices low too.
John: Because we go to concerts too so we know if we want to see Radiohead or something like that, I saw tickets on Stubhub for $800 and I won’t go because that’s ridiculous. That’s why we go out and talk to people afterward because we don’t charge for that stuff. We don’t think the over privilege people or the more wealthy can have more opportunity than somebody else. At the end of the day, people worked hard just like we did and we do when we want to see a show. You worked hard to put in the money. If you want to see a movie, you work hard and you use your money to purchase your ticket and experience it and we want everybody to have the same opportunity and for us, it was a shock because we never had anything happened like that before.
Do you think its because of the venue?
John: I think its because the tickets went so fast.
Toronto was sold out in five hours!
Jared: Yeah, it was pretty quick that’s why we added the second show.
John: But its really cool because promoter like Travis – he and I were talking earlier and he said its really cool to be able to alleviate that problem especially because this kind of venue are really small and they understand what’s going on and they don’t want that to happen either so I think if we were at bigger venue like the House of Blues or something like that, its really hard to pint point and they can’t because they’re such a huge company but that’s a cool thing about playing these small venues. They feel like we feel as a band. It’s like there’s still a place for us; there’s still a place like this venue for our band, which happened to be this venue [the Hard Luck Bar] tonight. I think that’s what really cool about not being Miley Cyrus.
Why did you guys decided to play “You Left Me”?
Jared: We never to replicate it live.
Kennedy: It just an idea that happened from it and when we started jamming it. I think everybody was pretty quickly…its click.
Jared: We never even try to rework it. It was just a song that’s a studio track. I think I remember when we worked on the song; we were in Maryland or something. There were so many layers that were happening that I was just thinking that there’s no way we could do this live.
John: Again, this is a special thing for us and this is an opportunity to try; to push ourselves again, you know? That supposed to be the theme but we figured there’s going to be people, like you said, you’ve been with us for five years and there’s people who’ve been with us for seven so it’s something for people like you. Hopefully it’s a treat for people who’ve been with us. It’s a treat for us because it’s the first time we played it and it’s been fun so far.
Last question: How do you guys feel about selfie?
Jared: I don’t take ‘em. I don’t really do them.
John: We aren’t the selfie guy.
Kennedy: I like making pictures. I can make a picture of myself. I can take a picture of myself but I would never use the term of selfie.
John: I mean its kind of what it is. You take a picture of yourself.
Jared: It’s definitely not my style. Its not like “this is how I looked like, everybody!”
John: Let’s put it this way. I never taken any picture in the mirror of myself unless if its like my buds hanging out; sending it to them.
Jared: Yeah! I love that!
Kennedy: He has done it a lot.
Jared: I got friends to do it non stop.
John: We don’t crucify the selfie. We embrace the selfie. We don’t give a shit about the selfie.