Alternative rock band The Maine are currently performing on Vans Warped Tour for their fourth year, and when summer comes to a close they plan to start recording a new album.
During their Warped Tour performance in Hartford, Connecticut on July 10, the band took the stage sporting the same white shirts and blue pants, and laughed along with the crowd between tunes.
After their set, I had the opportunity to talk to lead vocalist John O'Callaghan about life on the tour and what the future holds.
ZUMIC: How does it feel to be on Warped Tour again this year?
John O'Callaghan: It feels different. We’re on main stage for the first time, which is really an honor. I’d like to think it’s a testament of the hard work we’ve put in since the inception of our band. I think that was what obviously was so attractive about coming back for the fourth time. It’s good to be back out and working hard.
I saw on your Instagram that this is the last time we’ll see you. Is that true?
Vans Warped Tour this summer is the last time that people can watch us play for the rest of the year. Once this summer comes to an end, we’re going to be doing another record. So that’s what we were trying to get at. These are the last shows of 2016.
So where are you going from here then?
That's when we will start writing as a band together. It’s hard for me to write and be creative on the road, so I was writing up until we left and I’m kind of itching to get back already and start writing again with everybody. That’s really where the rest of the year will take us. We’ll write, and then we'll record at the end of October and hopefully be satisfied with the result.
Are you going to try to do something different than your sound now?
I think that’s what the goal is each time, to push ourselves. I like to think that is one of the aspects of our band that people dig. The uncertainty of the sound. If someone asked me what kind of music is it, I’ve just thrown the blanket like, ‘Oh, we’re alternative rock’ but I’d like to think that we’ve done a decent job of kind of expanding each time and trying to keep people on their toes. For us, we understand that if we would’ve made the same record as our first in-and-out, we understand that maybe there would have been a chunk where we would maybe have seen more success, but I don’t think we’d be a band right now if that were the case.
What would you tell people who haven’t heard you in awhile or what would you say about the The Maine in 2016?
I would tell them to just listen to our most recent album. I would say that for me, I like to think that American Candy, our most recent one, is like our first album. Like the band’s first album. 'Cause I feel like it was the first time we set out to do something collectively — the first time that I felt confident as a songwriter and a little more focused. I think that I would urge somebody to check out our newest stuff.
I often hear people say things like, ‘Oh The Maine? I used to like them,’ so that’s why I’m wondering what you would say to older fans.
We get that a lot, like, ‘Oh I didn’t even know you guys were still a band.’ I’d like to think we’ve grown, musically. At the end of the day, that’s like why a tour like this is so appealing because there’s an opportunity to play for a lot of people who don’t know who we are and aren’t familiar with our stuff. So, this morning was a great example. I saw maybe - it was kind of scattered — but there were little pockets of people who knew the words, but I felt like I did an okay job of winning people over, or I’d like to think so. That’s the goal.
Hopefully you get a whole new group of fans.
So, during your set, you encouraged people to put their phones away. How do you think that impacts the experience now that so many people want to record everything?
I think it leaves a lot less up to the imagination and like the anticipation of going to see a show. If somebody can just film the whole set, then what’s the point of like, wanting to go to the concert? I totally understand the other way though. It’s one of those things where you paid the money to buy the ticket, you can kind of do whatever you want to do. I just urge people to put them down just for a second, I don’t do it the whole set, and I don’t get too breathy on it, but I think it’s important to remember that this is actually happening.
I just thought that was cool, that you told people to do that. Because it is kind of annoying when everyone just stares at their phones.
This is going to sound like I’m really old, well I'm getting old, but when I was going to concerts when I was younger, my cell phone was a flip-phone. The way that I remembered the concert was like how many times I crowd surfed or like, lost my shoe, you know what I mean? So I think definitely times are changing, but I don’t think it’s a detrimental thing.
So what are your expectations for the rest of the tour?
We've strung a few really great ones together. My expectation of myself is to try to put on a unique show, every show, even though we’re playing the same seven songs. I’m not a huge fan of the scripted talking parts like, ‘How are you!’ You know what I mean? That to me is a huge turn off, so that’s what I’m challenging myself to do — to put on a different show every day and to try to honestly expend every last bit of energy that day on whatever city we’re in. Because people deserve it, whether it’s New York City or North Dakota.
You’ve got to make each show memorable.