Interview by Holly Aker.
The Maine is one of the biggest bands in the pop rock genre right now. Besides constantly touring, the band released their first full-length album with Warner Records last year, along with a split EP with Never Shout Never and a short film entitled In Darkness & In Light.
The Maine plays Austin this Friday at La Zona Rosa, and before you head out to the show, check out with lead singer John O’Callaghan had to tell us about “In Darkness & In Light,” his favorite song off Black and White and when you can expect to hear some new music from the bad.
What are your expectations for this tour given Augustana is pretty well known to a different audience?
John O’Callaghan: I don’t really have many expectations. I think it’s more excitement. I’m really excited to play back in the United States. We’ve been on the road over seas for a while, and I’m excited to play this set that we’ve been working on. We’ve been working on this set for, I don’t know, the past month and a half, trying to get things fresh in our minds. I expect it’s going to be very fun. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Augustana, and I’m a real big fan of their music, so it’ll be awesome to listen to their band every night. Austin Gibbs is a good friend of ours, and all those guys are great people. So maybe I do have expectations. I have expectations of good things, I guess.
How did this tour with Augustana come about?
O’Callaghan: You know what? I really don’t know how it all kind of came to fruition, but it’s in large part due to our booking agent, Matt Galle. He just kind of sprung it on us. It sounded like the perfect thing to do.
What can you tell me about the different directions for Black and White than Can’t Stop Won’t Stop?
O’Callaghan: I think it was more of a collective effort by all of us to make at least what we wanted to sound like at the time kind of cohesive as opposed to the first record that we did. I feel like with each record that we do or with each thing that we do, it’s a huge learning process, learning experience, and I think we learn each time what we really don’t like about what we’re doing, and I think we try to improve on that or just get rid of those aspects as we move forward. Kind of in every facet of the band. But I think the main, the real prevalent difference is we listened to a lot of American rock and roll going into the making of the second record, and I feel like that shines through, or hopefully at least it does in some people’s eyes. We incorporated a lot of organ, that kind of made it feel like a complete record in our eyes. And I think the new stuff is going in another different direction. So, yeah, learning experience.
How did you come to sign with Warner Records for Black and White?
O’Callaghan: It had kind of been a long time, a long process. We were talking with them for a while, and really I don’t know where it all came about and when we exactly started talking, but we had been talking for a while. It felt like the right thing to do, and we are all very excited about the signing off. They have a great track record, and we felt like it was the right place to be.
Are there any plans in the works to release another music video for Black and White?
O’Callaghan: I am not sure. I think we want to try to put something together on this tour. Something similar to a video we’ve done in the past, just kind of like a montage, collection. Not like a rocky montage, where, like, I’m working out, but like a collection of footage from the tour. Hopefully we’ll put that out after the tour’s over, but as far as a high-budget, us-wearing-make-up and stuff, I don’t think we’re going to do that, hopefully ever again. But yeah, that’s what we’re planning on doing, so hopefully, I’m not the liar.
What’s your favorite song off Black and White?
O’Callaghan: I think my favorite song might be the first track off the album called “Don’t Stop Now.” I think it was the last song we wrote before we actually headed into the studio. Jared and I wrote that while we were in the apartment where we were staying in California. I think that one just feels the most like the band in my eyes or how I envisioned the band, or at least at that point and time. But that’s probably my favorite track.
What’s the story behind that song?
O’Callaghan: It’s a funny story actually. Not so much about the meaning of the song, but it was kind of one of those things where we had co-written, and it wasn’t a bad experience, but it was an experience. I don’t necessarily want to do that again. I don’t feel like I’m better than those people by any means, but I don’t feel like that shows exactly who the people in the band are. But anyways, we were trying to get one of our tracks back onto the record. Jared and I sat down, ad we came up with a progression, and I started singing words from a Tom Petty song with a different melody over the progression of “Don’t Stop Now,” and it ended up coming out to be the actual song. So I can kind of credit Tom Petty for helping co-write that one, although he wasn’t in the room
Why did you decide to release In Darkness & In Light?
O’Callaghan: Well that actually started out as a concept for a music video that I had. As we started talking, I started talking with my buddy back in Arizona, he’s a screenwriter, and he wanted to see if we could adapt it to make it kind of like a short film. We talked with the guys who had done our previous music video for “Inside of You,” and they were into the idea of putting out a short film. I don’t know really where along the lines everybody agreed to do it, but ultimately did, and we made, I think it’s like an 18-minute film. And we didn’t just want to put out the film, so we had some B-sides that didn’t make the record that we recorded on our own. I feel like it was a cool representation of creativity. It was something that I hadn’t seen, at least bands that we are in the same vein as do. I felt like that was a cool thing for our fans who don’t necessarily get music all that often from the bands that the love
So, you mentioned those B-sides. Do you think those songs will ever appear on a future album?
O’Callaghan: I doubt it. I feel like people, including myself, if you listen to demos or tracks from a band…this is how I feel, now you might feel completely different, but I feel like if I heard a song, sometimes I get so used to hearing a song a certain way, that if the band redoes that song, it might be better for people who don’t know about the previous history, but for me, I guess I get demo-itis. I like the way things originally were. But I guess to answer your question, I highly doubt any of those tracks will see any of our stuff in the future.
Late last year, you did a split EP with Never Shout Never called Split – EP. How did that come about and why Never Shout Never?
O’Callaghan: We toured with them in the states, and then as well as over seas, and we just wanted at the time to give people that were coming out to the shows a live listen of what they experienced, and then people that weren’t allowed or able to go while we were in the U.S., we wanted to give them something too. It just seemed appropriate to do it with Never Shout because we were on tour with them. We’re huge advocates of that band. They’re great people, and we just want to be associated with good people, so it seemed like a good fit.
I know Black and White came out less than a year ago, but when do you imagine you’ll start thinking about the next album? When will fans be able to hear anything new?
O’Callaghan: I mean, I’ve already been thinking about things. I’ve been thinking about things since we pretty much finished Black and White, and I think that’s kind of been our mantra. It’s one of those things that we had worked on Black and White for so long that by the time it was finished, I was already sick of it. I feel like that’s the way it kind of goes, but we’re already writing new songs. We’ve already demoed songs. I don’t know when exactly we’re going to be in the studio, but it’ll definitely be in the near future.
Maybe late 2011, or next year?
O’Callaghan: I personally want to put out music as often and as soon as possible. If the label gives us the go ahead, we’ll be in the studio as early as we can.
This tour with Augustana runs until June 18. What does The Maine have planned after that?
O’Callaghan: June 18…that’s Arizona. Then we’re, I think we’re moving our equipment downtown, and we’re going to be writing as a full band and demoing out stuff. And then we have a couple one-off shows. We’re playing a couple festivals in Holland and in Belgium in August. Then we’re looking for another tour for the fall, so I mean, if you have a band and you want to go on tour, let’s do it.
Watch the video for “The Right Girl” from Black and White below: