Before The Maine set up shop at Houston’s own Walter’s Downtown on Tuesday, March 8, Web Editor Sarah Hoffman had the chance to chat with guitarist Jared Monaco.
The show is just one stop on a Texas mini-tour, which also includes shows in El Paso and San Antonio, and ends in Houston before the band heads out on a full US tour with Mayday Parade.
“We love playing shows in Texas, and for this upcoming run with Mayday Parade, we knew we didn’t have any stops there. It just happened to work out in a way that allowed us to stop by and play a few shows on our way to meet up with the Mayday guys,” Monaco explained.
The setlist for the show is sure to include several songs from their last album, “American Candy,” but Monaco also teased a surprise for their fans. Before the show, they will ask fans what song they want to hear and will add that song to the setlist for one special night. In El Paso, My Heroine won over “Waiting for my Sun to Shine,” so be on the lookout for a twitter poll for the Houston show.
El Paso! We recorded Pioneer here. What song should we play tonight!? See you at Tricky Falls soon 👍🏼
— The Maine (@themaine) March 5, 2016
The Maine as they’re known today formed in 2007 and celebrated their ninth birthday earlier this year. Monaco described the near decade as “Fast. But also slow. Just right.”
If the nine-year history isn’t impressive enough, the band has managed to keep the same lineup featuring lead singer John O’Callaghan, bassist Garrett Nickelsen, drummer Pat Kirch and guitarists Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco, for nearly a decade, a feat that isn’t commonplace in today’s music industry.
“We all come from what I like to consider a similar mindset. I think everyone brings something different to the mix, whether that means personality-wise or creatively, or even knowing how to navigate the business side of things. When we make a decision, we’re all on board. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this DIY ride we’re all taking right now we all agree on how fortunate we are to be doing this,” Monaco said.
Of course, he’s referring to the band’s wild ride to their current independent state. In 2008, they released their second full-length album Black & White, which sold over 20,000 copies in the first week alone. However, the band soon realized that being a part of a large record label wasn’t for them.
“We fought long and hard to become an independent band after taking the major label route. It was a real pain in the ass and took quite a long time, but when all was said and done we ended up in a better place because of it,” Monaco said.
At the end of 2011, the band released Pioneer, their first independent full-length record, after it was rejected by their previous label, and they haven’t looked back since. 2013 saw the release of Forever Halloween, which was actually recorded on analog tape as they truly embraced the independent route.
“[Being an independent band] is no doubt more work and requires some serious discipline, but I haven’t answered to anyone in several years now, especially on a creative level, and I cannot even find the words to explain how insanely great that feels,” said Monaco.
Finally, a year ago, The Maine released “American Candy,” which Monaco called a “reboot” for the band. The pop-rock album is a steady, mature progression from the previous releases that slots right into place with the rest of their discography. Elements from their last four albums can be found in different songs on this album, which really helps solidify what The Maine is all about.
“This record has been a positive experience from the start. I felt confident leaving the studio and I feel happy and relaxed touring on these songs,” Monaco said. “American Candy was an album that took all of the good ideas we have had over our time together and discarded all of the bad ones. We’re in a really good place.”
Perhaps the biggest differentiator between The Maine and any other band in the way that they care for their fans. Last year, they went on tour, like they do every year, but this time was different. All 13 shows were completely free for fans. That’s right. No tickets, no tax, no outrageous fees. Just free music and a good time with a band who genuinely loves what they do. Beyond that, every single member of the band can be found greeting fans after every show, and they’ve released countless songs and EPs for free over the years. Monaco attributes their accessibility to being that independent band who gets to make decisions for themselves.
“We have the freedom to do those things! And we have the desire to give back to our fans because there is a real connection happening,” Monaco said. “There is something to be said about all of these people who buy our music or stream it or whatever and then feel that connection on such a level that they come to a show. We value that greatly and it drives us to stay connected to our fans.”
The Maine will be performing in Houston on Tuesday, March 8 at Walter’s Downtown. Tickets are just $21, and can be purchased here.
For anyone unfamiliar with The Maine, check out their social media and the Spotify playlist below to get a taste of what they’re all about before the show on Tuesday.
By Sarah Hoffman