If I have not made it blatantly obvious by now, I am madly in love with The Maine. Not more than a month after I discovered them they were already challenging my long-time favorite John Mayer for the music throne. Since then I have decided that they share the spot equally.
If you, for some ungodly reason, haven't heard or heard of the Arizona quintet, here's a list of reasons why I think you should give their music a go, if you haven't already. Let's get started!
- Their music: I know, you're probably thinking well, duh. But allow me to elaborate. They have come quite a long way, musically, since their 2008 debut Can't stop, Won't stop. Compared to their most recent release, Forever Halloween, it's hard to believe that it's even the same band. Not at all in a bad way, CSWS is a great record, but they have evolved and, in lack of a better way to put it, matured since then. They have simply grown into the clothes that might have been a little too big back then, so to speak. The Maine are one of those bands that never cease to surprise me. As a fan I am constantly kept on my toes because it's impossible to predict what route they will take next. The moment I think to myself wow, I finally have these guys all figured out then - BAM! - they toss another curve ball in my direction. And I love it. I'm assuming that playing the same songs over and over on tour can get quite boring and redundant, which clearly they have figured out a solution to. Not only by switching up their setlists every now and then, but also by adding twists to their own songs. Whether if it's playing a more reggae-ish version of Everything I ask for or turning Time into a jazzier version, they have that whole shebang figured out to a T.
- Their fans: the thing that I love about going to concert, aside from the actual concert, meeting people with whom I share the love of whatever band that's performing. I have stated this on several occasions, and I'm sure I will continue to do so in the future, but The Maine have the nicest fans. Over the past two years that I've been a fan I have been so fortunate to get to know the coolest, kindest people, many of whom I now consider as close friends, despite the fact that we might be separated by oceans, countries and continents.
- Their merch is actually nice-looking and affordable: I'm a sucker for band shirts and I have a rapidly growing collection of them, constantly looking for new finds to add to my daily wardrobe. I would never wear a shirt if I didn't actually listen to the band on it. Which is quite unfortunate at times since more often than not, the merch is absolutely dreadful. If it's not then it's most likely expensive as hell. I don't know who the mastermind behind The Maine's merch is, but I'm guessing it's a combination of the band and their manager, Tim Kirch. Whoever it is, that person is doing a rock solid job. You can check out their online merch store over at the 8123 website.
- Their music videos: I'll be honest, I normally don't really care much for music videos. Probably because I have the attention span of a puppy and get restless very easily, with the result that I usually can't be bothered watching them. However, I am making one giant exception in this case. I have, surprisingly enough, managed to watch and enjoy all of the music videos they've put out so far, and I don't have a doubt in my mind that I will continue to do so. They have, with the help of names like Daniel Gomes, Dirk Mai, Jay Obyrne and Loren Brinton somewhat restored my faith in music videos.
- This is Pioneer: with the help of Jay Obyrne, whom I briefly mentioned above, a little documentary thing was put together for the release of, you guessed it, Pioneer. It follows the band the 30 days leading up to the album release, and it "premiered" on December 6th 2011, the day the record came out. Unfortunately, a shitty internet connection and the fact that thousands of people were trying to watch it at the same time resulted in it freezing every five seconds, making it nearly impossible to enjoy the whole thing without a) wanting to pull all my hair out or b) tossing the laptop out the window. Luckily my (hypothetical) prayers were answered and the whole thing, divided into four parts, was uploaded on YouTube for me, and everyone else, to enjoy without freezing this time.
- They are, to put it mildly, a bunch of goofballs: which becomes blatantly obvious if you take a look at just about any video on their YouTube channel, their on-stage banter or even their Instagram feeds. Not to say that they aren't serious musicians, I'll be the first one to testify on that. But as a person who doesn't take herself too seriously it's refreshing to watch a band that doesn't either. I often find myself shaking my head, thinking ah yes, this is where I've chosen to lay my affection.
- They are so nice: let me just start this off by saying that I don't think it's a criteria that bands should meet fans, whether if it's during proper Meet & Greets or just meeting them pre/post show. It's not a part of their job, in my opinion. That being said, The Maine have often and openly stated that they like meeting their fans, and won't charge people for that to happen. As long as it's safe and their schedule and health allows it, they'll do it. I was fortunate enough to meet the band in Amsterdam and I sincerely mean it when I say that they are the nicest, most approachable people.
- Their AP podcast: I'm probably beginning to sound like a broken record at this point, but my lack of a properly functioning attention span, listening to something for nearly three hours straight sounds like a nearly impossible task. And it was quite the task, if I'm being honest, I found myself zoning out more than once during my first listen. But, the beauty of podcasts is that you can rewind and relisten to the parts you might have missed, which I did several times until I'd made it all the way through. At this point I have listened to it so many times that I could probably recite it all the way through, word by word. Mike Shae is, in my opinion, a podcast genius. He's well researched and, from what I've gathered, he's spoken to the band quite a few times, so it's more like eavesdropping on a conversation than an interview. Just not as creepy as I made it sound. They delve into the deep end of the band's history and basically make it through the entire timeline, from the very beginning to where they are now. Or where they were at the point when the podcast was recorded, anyway.
- John's lyrics: while making the songs are a collective effort from the whole band the lyrics are, from what I've gathered, strictly John's creations. At times I find it completely mind-boggling that he's just three years older than I am. Sometimes it appears to be much more. In some aspects, however not many, he seems to be younger than me. But he is one hell of a songwriter. Or writer in general, actually. Together with household photographer Dirk Mai he's put together Exaltation, a collection of poems penned by O'Callaghan and photos taken by Mai. But back to the lyrics. Aside from his name, that is one thing John, or Juan as I often call him for some reason, seems to have in common with another favorite John of mine: Mayer, singer/songwriter and musician extraordinaire. They both seem to have some sort of direct line to my mind. Either that or our minds just appear to take the same routes. Often, at that. You know how it is, sometimes you just find yourself... Troubled by your thoughts, in lack of a better way to put it. I am no exception to this, but every time I've been in these scenarios, John - both of them, but since Mayer isn't related to this post, their identical first names aside, it's Mr O'Callaghan I'm talking about here - somehow manages to put my thoughts into words, just more elegantly and simply phrased than they are in my mind. Few things ease your mind, or at least mine, more than the knowledge that you're not the only one with these thoughts.
- Forever Halloween: yeah yeah, I know, I'm supposed to spread the love equally over their whole discography, and normally I would. But since theirs is stretched over four records and I'd end up writing paragraph upon paragraph about each one, I've chosen to focus on their most recent one. As I've already stated, I never know what to expect from them when it comes to them putting out new music. I suppose all of the studio updates, which I of course followed like a hawk, gave me somewhat of an inkling of what was to come, but the finalized product absolutely blew my mind. I thought they'd reached their peak and prime with Pioneer. But lo and behold, my expectations were far exceeded as June 4th of this year came around. What a record they delivered. The fact that it's recorded the old school way, live and analogically to tape, pretty much speaks for itself. That alone is, in my opinion, just the coolest thing ever. What's even cooler is that they kind of started to take an interest in that approach after meeting Ryan Adams. I might be a little biased here, but I think this is a 45 minutes, divided into 13 songs, long masterpiece.
- Their covers: while I'd choose their own songs over cover songs any day of the week, it's definitely fun to hear them take upon other people's songs and make them their own. Their catalogue of cover songs is, to say the least, quite diverse. They've done covers of songs by Cyndi Lauper, OutKast, Ryan Adams and Akon, just to name a few. I was thrilled to learn that they'd be a part of the 5th edition of Fearless Records' Punk goes Pop. Their choice of song, '80s classic Girls just wanna have fun by Cyndi Lauper, threw me off, but I was more than eager to hear the final product. With some vocal help from Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, they delivered a version of the song that strayed so far from the original that I was struggling to remember how the original went. I had absolutely no idea what to expect prior to hearing it, out of all songs I had expected them to choose, I did not see that one coming at all. Aside from their rendition of Lauper's hit song, I strongly advise you to take a listen to their version of OutKast's 2003 smash, Roses. Needless to say, they put their own twist to that song as well. Very successfully, I might add.
My initial plan was to make this a 15-point list but my imagination is running low, and I'm afraid that if I'd proceed further, I would end up boring you to sleep. Anyway, I hope this list has provided you with good enough reasons to check out their music. If you haven't already, that is. Now, get to work, folks!
Do you have any bands or artists you'd like to recommend to me? Comment below and let me know!