Interview: The Maine

As 2011 was drawing to a close, The Maine released their highly anticipated third full-length, entitled Pioneer. The record was a bold departure for the band not only stylistically, but also from a business perspective – the quintet opted to part ways with their major label staff in order to have the freedom to make the record exactly what the band members wanted, and nothing else. Pioneer proved to be a career game-changer for the band, ensuring that The Maine would not merely be the “here today, gone tomorrow” pop band that some detractors had predicted. With a handful of high-profile tours and the release of Good Love: The Pioneer B-Sides fast approaching, bassist Garret Nickelson had a word with in order to help get everyone up to speed with the band.


You guys strayed away from your record label in order to release Pioneer, and obviously that decision paid off, as the album has been a massive success. Do you think the band will continue with the current, more independent business model for your future releases?

I think so. I kind of think we got a taste for what we can do by ourselves, and I think we’re pretty proud of what happened with Pioneer, and I think that we proved that we can do it on our own. I’m sure we’re always going to have help from someone, but as of now, we’ve always tried to base our band on “no one can do it better than you” at promoting yourself, so we’ve kind of always taken that route.


The cover art for Pioneer definitely received its fair share of attention. Since the album is a bit of a departure from your more pop-oriented sound, was the big bearded dude on the cover maybe symbolizing the grittier, less sweet direction the music had gone in?

Yeah, definitely. I mean the idea behind it was just kind of, if you want to be a big dude with a beard and wear lipstick and makeup, you’re allowed to do that. There should be no rules on someone telling you what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. And that was kind of the idea behind the record – what it looks like – it was kind of the idea behind the whole record in general. Just someone told us that we can’t do something, and we were like “well fuck you, yes we can, we can do whatever we want”. No one can control ourselves except us.

Would it be fair to say that your first two albums didn’t really represent the band’s complete artistic vision? Because they definitely came off as a bit more pop radio-friendly than your latest release.

I just think we were younger when we wrote those records, and I think we needed to learn a lot. And nothing against those records at all, it got us to where we are now, and both are records that I really enjoy, the first two. But then, you know, there’s also parts that I’m like “…oh God…”. But you know, just got to live and learn, and learn what you really like about your band and your people you work with every day. But yeah, I feel like Pioneer definitely felt like more of who exactly we are and what we’re trying to represent.


Do you think that going the independent route and pursuing a more rock-oriented sound has boosted your credibility as a band, especially to people who may have written you guys off earlier in your career? Has the record won over new demographics for you guys?

Definitely. I think it made some people realize that we’re not the band who they thought we were, and that maybe we can write somewhat of a good song. Yeah, it definitely seems like some people came around and seemed to enjoy the record that didn’t enjoy the other ones, so that’s always a good feeling.


You guys will be embarking on an extensive European run throughout September, followed by a co-headlining American tour. What are you expecting the expedition to be like, and what can fans expect to experience at these concerts?

Yeah, the Mayday tour’s in the States, but we’re going overseas with This Century, and I think our buddies Arkells are playing on a few shows. We haven’t toured with [Mayday Parade] in two years now, you know, and we’re really great friends with them, and we really enjoy being around those guys, so it’s going to be a really fun tour – just hanging out with some dudes that you like and playing some rock and roll. For people going to the show, we’re always trying to do something new on every tour. So it’s not the same, they’re not going to see the same 10 songs every time; I think this time around we’re trying to play a different set every night. There seems to be a lot of people that go to multiple shows in a row, and I think it would be kind of a cool thing for them not to have the same exact set every night. So that’s kind of our main goal on this next run, is just to switch it up every night and play different songs, and different versions of songs, and just kind of experiment that way.


The band will be releasing Good Love: The Pioneer B-Sides on September 11th. What inspired you guys to go through with this release, and what can you tell us about the songs that’ll be featured on it?

Well, it’s kind of funny. Because when we were writing Pioneer, it kind of seemed like for a little while it was like a double album, where we thought we were going to release it, Part 1, Part 2 kind of thing. But then we were like, let’s just make one really strong record. But the Good Love EP is just songs that we really really liked, that were almost there for us, but didn’t make it. But some of them, like the title track “Good Love” – that song is one of my favourite songs we’ve ever written. So there were definitely songs left over that we just felt needed [to see] light of day and for people to kind of experience. They’re kind of all over the place. I feel like Pioneer has somewhat of a vibe. These ones, there’s a full electronic song, and a song has piano – almost the whole thing is piano – and they were just kind of all over the place. So it just kind of seemed like we wanted people to hear them, but they didn’t make the record. But yeah, they’re all songs that we really love and we’re excited to play them live, so it should be cool!


What’s one artist that fans would be surprised to find out you listen to?

Hmm, I don’t know. I grew up listening to Phil Collins. That’s like all I listened to growing up, so maybe him. I’ll stick with Phil Collins.


Is there a particular lesser known band or artist you’d love for readers to familiarize themselves with?

If you haven’t checked out Austin Gibbs, he’s recording a new record right now and he’s awesome, we love playing with those guys all the time. Arkells, we just toured with them in the summer. Yeah, there’s tons of good music out there, you just have to search for it a little bit. I’ll stick with those guys.


Which member of the band is the most likely to host SNL, and why?

Well I would say that Jared is probably the funniest, so maybe him. But I feel like John could actually do it. I think Jared’s funny around us, but maybe not a whole lot of people would understand his humor. John could probably do the task.


And now I have to ask a very serious question. Who would win in a fight: a taco, or a grilled cheese sandwich?

Hmmm.  I would say a taco because he’s got the meat. Well, I guess it could be a vegetarian taco. I’ll stick with taco. Taco will win.


Are there any words you’d like to leave with fans who are going to be reading this?

Well, thanks for reading, and hopefully you guys check out the B-side record coming out, Good Love, and check out Pioneer!

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