The Maine's personal new album has a positive message
With its latest album, The Maine is hoping to show off its more mature side while promoting positivity.
American Candy, the American alternative rock band's fifth studio album, is indication of the band's growth. On the surface, it's an energetic, feel-good record. But pay close attention and you'll realise that plenty of thought went into each of its 10 songs.
From a songwriting point of view, it's a departure from the band's debut album Can't Stop Won't Stop (2008). Back then, John O'Callaghan (lead vocals), Jared Monaco (lead guitar), Kennedy Brock (rhythm guitar), Garrett Nickelson (bass guitar) and Patrick Kirch (drums) were still teenagers.
And as one would would expect, the teen-oriented album was mostly about, well, girls of course.
American Candy manages to offer an added layer of depth that previous albums lacked while retaining the punk rock sound that fans have grown to love.
English Girls, the album's lead single, is — as the title suggests— about girls. It's one of the more playful tracks on the album which is actually based on an actual encounter the band had with English girls at a bar.
There's also the reflective, and more thought-provoking track 24 Floors. Written by O'Callaghan, the song explores a dark period in the frontman's life. But even a song seemingly devoid of hope has a place on an album that encourages positivity.
Ahead of the band's gig in Singapore on Aug 15, the 26-year-old revealed the inspiration behind 24 Floors, as well as the rest of American Candy in an e-mail interview with M.
Q: How do you think you have grown as a band since starting out in 2007? What was your first recording session like and how different was it from your latest one?
A: Music is on the front, side, top and back of our brains at this point. It's genuinely the only thing in our head, and when we started in 2007, I don't think we could say that with conviction.
Q: In one of your interviews, you attributed the success of American Candy to its positivity. Do you make it a point to write songs that are positive?
A: It's a tough line to walk for me, the line between what I perceive as reality and pessimism. It's recently been a goal of mine to write songs for The Maine that exude positivity and a sense of hope. I suppose we get more than our dose of negativity in our daily lives so I want to counter that with a little light that will (hopefully) illuminate the notion that it's great to be alive.
Q: You also mentioned that positivity is contagious. How do you think your music changes the mood of listeners? Does it have the same effect on you?
A: Music can absolutely set and/or change the vibe or mood of any scenario and this idea certainly resonated with me while writing American Candy. I definitely tend to listen to music that my given mood can identify with. That's why I believe music is so universal, because there is a song for every emotion us humans can conceive.
Q: Songs like 24 Floors and American Candy feature some really thought-provoking lyrics. I also read that "English Girls" is about an actual encounter you had at a bar. How personal would you say American Candy is to you? Are all of the songs on the album based on your experiences or what you've observed?
A: American Candy as an album is completely personal. For the first time, I feel like we made a body of work that fully represents our current headspace. Fiction can be fun, but only in moderation. The listener needs to 'feel' someone on the other end of the track to recognise its authenticity, and I believe people have recognised that it's us on wax.
Q: Speaking about 24 Floors, the song deals with a really dark theme (Up in some hotel room. Feeling so low. Thinking of jumping soon). What's the inspiration behind this particular track and how does it fit in with an album that's mostly positive?
A: Fortunately, I've seen through to the other side of the experience, and I would rather not delve into it because there is no sense in mucking things back up, but my intention was to voice the idea that things aren't ever as bad as they seem. Providing my experience via song provides the comfort in knowing you're not alone in feeling low.
O'Callaghan, Monaco, Brock, Nickelson and Kirch have spent the last eight years making music and touring the world together not only as band mates, but also as best friends. To O'Callaghan, the mutual understanding that the five have for each other has been beneficial to the band.
Q: When touring, what do you get up to in between shows?
A: I suppose the sort of debauchery boys in their mid-20s in a rock band get up to. Drinking our share of booze and trying to take over cities a block at a time.
Q: Have you ever disagreed on how a certain record should sound? How are disagreements within the group usually settled?
A: The beauty of having five minds when working is that disputes are easily settled by simply allowing people to voice their opinion and doing what we can collectively to agree in the end. Luckily, we've yet to run into a huge quarrel that couldn't be resolved.
Q: Many bands have broken up over the years, what do you think it's going to take to keep The Maine together?
A: Our relationship is dynamic, our work ethic and a collective common goal is what I think has helped us survive this long. It's hard to exactly pinpoint the exact ingredients that have made up our recipe for longevity, but I suppose if there was a secret, everyone would tap into it.
Q: What is the one thing that sets The Maine apart from other bands?
A: We can't do it like anyone else, but no one can do it like us.
Q: What have fans told you about your music?
A: It makes eating vegetables tolerable.
Win! Tickets to The Maine's show in Singapore on Aug 15
All you have to do is answer a simple question, and you could walk away with a pair of passes to The Maine Live in Singapore, happening Aug 15 at Neverland II, St James Power Station.
We have two pairs of passes to give away, courtesy of Secret Signals.
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