“It’s all chill. It’s all chill, man.”
They may be a band that had their big break on the international music scene 8 years ago, but that’s how drummer Patrick Kirch summed up the band’s philosophy or approach to their lives.
Clad casually in shirts and jeans, The Maine gathered at our office for a super chill chat and they were already talking excitedly about their second visit here as they settled down.
“Did you know that you could walk all across this whole place [Singapore] in 8 hours? Try it tomorrow!” vocalist John O’Callaghan, quipped.
“I think it was 13th street? I don’t know,” John said when we probed further about their favorite spot in Singapore. Rhythm guitarist, Kennedy Brock, finally asked a minder and discovered it was the hipster-fied Haji Lane.
Revealing that they tried stingray for the first time, John also mentioned having ice-cream and bread, a “literal ice-cream sandwich”.
“The first time I saw that I was so happy it existed in the world!” Patrick cheerfully chimed in like a 5-year-old kid.
Don’t get The Maine wrong – the band is not simply here to sightsee.
“We’ll try to fit in as many [activities] as we can after 11pm tonight, [but] we are not going to get too crazy because we’ve the show to play and we have to be alive for that,” exclaimed John. The band also played a secret show the night before their actual show.
The band was largely absent on social media for some time when recording Amercian Candy, which John helped to explain: “I think [it was] not by choice, the Internet just did not work for us. We just decided and agreed that we weren’t going to post anything, and we just physically couldn’t when we got there so it was harmonious.”
Kennedy interjects, “There was no turning back!”
“We were working long days, some 9 to 10 hours, some even longer. So I think it was important to make solid use of every hour,” John said. Adding that the band had never really done a record that was unexpected by fans, he describes the anticipation as “quite a fun kind of thing”.
“You know what you’re creating to a certain degree, and (when) the rest of the people out there have zero clue, that creates a sense of mystery as to what is to come.”
To make American Candy true to the band’s beliefs, it took 30 days in a rented house in Joshua Tree national park for the band alone to conceptualize, write, and record the album.
“We focused a lot on grooves. Bands like The Rolling Stones had a huge impact on us. We haven’t been talking about Talking Heads much but they are heavily grooves-based (too) and we liked that band a lot. Things like that, which we hadn’t (done) before, crept into each song,” bassist Garrett Nickelsen shared.
And that’s what American Candy has been all about: drawing inspiration from the 90s’ tunes and injecting “some sort of liveliness and uplifting” undertone throughout the entire record. “It’s definitely new territory for us,” admits guitarist Jared Monaco.
Freedom Comes with a Price
Being an independent and unsigned band, The Maine agreed that the process of churning out the album hadn’t been all sweet. Garrett said, “I think the biggest hang-up was when we were writing the album. I think there was a feeling in the air of ‘what are we about to do?’”
He continued: “I remember being in Boston and we were in the middle of writing the album and everyone had this nervous feeling. Because we really want to do something great and really push ourselves. And when you put yourself in that situation, it can get stressful. But it ended up turning out better than we thought! That was a moment that stuck out.”
John added, “I think adversities are what shape all the decisions that you make. Being independent and unsigned, we’ve taken on and assumed the responsibility for everything. It’s risky but there are a lot of freedoms that we enjoy. It’s night and day compared to what we are used to in the past.
When asked about the meaning of the album title American Candy, the band members gave a 3-second long silence before John admitted that he was just trying to be a “smart-ass and explain what candy is”.
He said, “The title to me just represents our distaste for modern culture and the way that we feel media is shoved down people’s throats.”
He quickly added, “Not all media! I know we are in the media office right now!” Cue roaring (or nervous, depending how you look at it) laughter in the interview room.
He continued, “I think with entertainment and the way things are force-fed is why we decided that we don’t want to operate that way and we don’t want people to just digest our music. Not every song pertains to that lyrically, but fundamentally we use that as the baseline: keeping in mind that we want to be earnest and forthright, and not manipulative,” he chuckled.
On a more serious note, John later added, “I think sincerity is what keeps us relevant as a band. In a land of monotony and the ‘tonight let’s lose it all’ generation, I think it is important to tell people to live that and not just see it in a void of commercialism.”
Having spent several days in Singapore and for the second time, we asked the band for their thoughts on Singaporean girls.
The band members all looked at each other, and broke into long, hysterical laughters.
John finally took one for the team and said: “That’s a loaded question, right? I think that girls are the same. Girls are very similar all over the world, just like the boys. Boys are the same, girls are the same. We are all people, man. We just talk different. I think girls are crazy. Boys are crazy too. We’re all crazy man!”
The Maine in Man-Form Is a…
To top it off, we had The Maine to describe what they’d be like if their band was a person. The result?
“slightly balding red-headed basketball player, (wearing a) tutu with suit and small noisy feet… and he’s a cheater with a weird sense of humor.”
Envisioning such a wild character, we wonder if we can be fast friends with him. Sounds like a blast.
The Maine’s Personal Favourite Picks from American Candy
“(Un)Lost” – Kennedy: “Because it captivates how everybody can feel that way, and that’s alright; and having comfort in something special from the record for myself.”
“Another Night on Mars” – John and Patrick
“American Candy” – Jared: “I guess I identify the most with that because I am very irritable sometimes so I relate (to) that one the most.”
“Am I Pretty?” – Garrett: “I’m going to go with ‘Am I Pretty?’ Because I question that a lot.”