Interview by Tiffany Lam
In celebration of their latest record release, Arizona-based American rockers The Maine embark on 8123’s American Candy Spring Tour – a 36-show leg across North America, with a lone Canadian show in Toronto at The Danforth Music Hall. We sat down with Pat Kirch and Jared Monaco while they were in town and discussed American Candy, past records, band influences and experiences as The Maine thus far.
Hey guys, glad to have you back in Toronto! Your fifth record, American Candy, came out not too long ago and there’s been some broad buzz about the title interpretation. What’s your take on it, what does “American Candy” mean to you?
Jared: I think it’s kind of speaking about the over-saturation and spoon-feeding of unnecessary information into your life.
Pat: All the things like the music and the food, if you’re not paying attention, you just eat and listen to and enjoy without really understanding why.
Jared: Some people take it too literally, and we didn’t mean it to be a political thing either. It was more so that we realized there were a lot of things (even subconsciously) that you do in your day to day life, and that maybe if you weren’t being influenced by all these things life would be different.
I heard that the album was recorded in Joshua Tree, how was the experience recording out there?
Pat: It all actually kind of came about partly because of logistics – the producer we were recording the album with just had a baby and he was going to be out in California. The idea was that we wanted to get out somewhere secluded so he could go home on weekends, but he actually ended up not living in California so that didn’t actually work out. But yeah, it was the first place we looked and we found this house that was just so cool-looking that we wanted to go there.
Jared: That’s exactly what it was, we were like, ‘this place looks awesome, let’s just go and see what it’s like’, and it turned out to be really cool. We were isolated from everything, cooking our own meals, doing everything off the grid, and it made it so we could focus on the songs and the album and making it the best album we could – zero city distractions.
Having already toured many, many countries through the years, where are you most excited to return?
Jared: Brazil, for me. You can’t just pick one, but we filmed the DVD in Sao Paulo and it was just a really cool experience. We’ve done stuff in the Philippines too, actually we’ve done stuff all over, so it’s hard to just pick one. There’s a lot of places that will be exciting to go back.
Pat: The thing is, pretty much everywhere we go we have good shows, because it’s basically people that are coming to shows to watch us play in particular, so everywhere is kind of just as awesome and is not going to be bad. To me it really doesn’t make a difference where you’re at.
Is there anywhere you’d love to go back to just on vacation time with the band?
Jared: I’d love to take a huge vacation through Europe, specifically the Mediterranean area. We’ve played in Italy and been in that area before, but my uncle’s been a bunch of times and I need to catch up to him [laughs].
The Maine’s sound has changed quite a bit through years and every album has a different sound to it. Besides growing up, what compelled this constant change of sound?
Pat: I think what we listen to had a big influence, I think the circumstances in which the albums were recorded in – for instance, we recorded Forever Halloween live kind of like how bands recorded it in the 60s-70s. I think maybe a lot of the change probably comes from the fact we don’t ever put ourselves in the same situation again, so we’re bound to make something different. And we’re always listening to new music and trying to grow as a band, so I guess we just write what comes out and it happens to not be the same as the last.
Jared: I think it’s also what we know. When we made the first record, I couldn’t even dial in my own guitar amp to make it sound good, I just didn’t know how to do that yet and was more focused on just how to play guitar. We’ve gotten really into the whole studio side of things over the last years and Pat bought a lot of really crazy studio gear and has just become really awesome at recording and engineering. We’re trying to learn and soak up everything we know as we go, and I think that’s affected the way our sound changed too. I feel like we know our way around the studio a lot better now.
What do you think a next album would be like if you guys were all married?
Jared: I think it would be a fiery divorce record [laughs], cause I don’t know how long that would last. It would be an angst-y punk album…
How do you think being from and growing up in Arizona may have influenced your music today?
Jared: The scene was really weird when me and Pat were starting out playing music. It was kind of like a hardcore scene before and when we first started. We kind of dabbled in that for a while but it was weird navigating that. I wasn’t there for the inception of this band, I was on the outside when they started The Maine, and it was kind of refreshing and cool to see something new and that wasn’t just screamo sprout up. It was like a breath of fresh air hearing the guys and I knew it was going to be something.
Pat: I think we were coming up when the internet for bands was becoming really big, so I think that helped break down the location barriers, so maybe [being from Arizona] wouldn’t have mattered. We didn’t even go on tour for so long, so the internet was really the reason why were were able to do what we could. I think no matter where we were from, we would’ve had that.
Who are some artists that have inspired you through the years and helped you create the identity of The Maine?
Pat: Tom Petty. After our first record, he was kind of a big artist for us and really helped us get to a different place.
Jared: Seeing that documentary they put out was life changing, like ‘wow you can say no to things!’ – that was really liberating for a band. I think that might have been the single most important direction. It saved our band and made us stronger, gave us the ability to feel like we could make our own decisions and feel like we could do what we want without fear.
Do any of you have an all-time favourite The Maine song? You know, one that’s maybe stuck with you over the years or has the most memories attached to it?
Jared: I’m super biased to whatever record’s out at any given time. Right now, the American Candy stuff has been so fun to play live. I’d say maybe the title track or “English Girls” are my favourites.
Pat: I guess I’m going to pick an older one just because we’ve had more time with it or something. I feel like “Don’t Stop Now” is a song that could be on any of our records.
Name one personal thing on your bucket list that you’d love to accomplish in the next year or so.
Pat: I want to purchase 6-8 dogs.
Jared: That’s a lot. But it’s a good amount though; you’ll never be lonely again.
Pat: Bring half of them on tour. Extra entertainment in the bus.
Jared: I’d like to meet Bill Murray, that’d be cool. Maybe get a photo or go bowling with him.
Last question, if you were to pose in a bathtub photoshoot filled with one type of candy, which would it be? Doesn’t necessarily have to be your favourite kind.
Pat: I’m going to go with Gushers, cause at first it can be soft and then it’ll go more liquidy.
Jared: I would go with just hot melted chocolate. The nice Ghirardelli kind. A whole bathtub filled with Ghirardelli chocolate and it would just be a mess.
Live photos by Tiffany Lam. More photos from the Toronto show here.