Since bursting onto the music landscape in 2007 barely out of high school, The Maine have grown and developed over the past seven years. Really, they’ve done that like no other band has. The first drastic change in sound came after the band released Black & White, their first record for Warner Bros. This happened after the band released Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop for Fearless, a fairly bland, middle-of-the-road pop-punk album with some dance elements. After the cycle was complete for Black & White, the band continued to grow and change, releasing music on their own following a departure from Warner Bros.
They have since released two albums on their own, 2011’s Pioneer and 2013’s Forever Halloween. They’ve also put out a B-sides release featuring songs from the Pioneer sessions and now they’ve put out an acoustic EP featuring all new music called Imaginary Numbers. Recently, The Maine’s frontman John O’Callaghan took the time to talk with Alternative Addiction about the acoustic EP and the band’s somewhat isolated ability to develop as a young band for the past seven years.
“Ever since we recorded Forever Halloween with Brendan Benson he opened our eyes to a lot of things,” said O’Callaghan regarding the producer for the band’s last full-length album. “He’s in-tune with everything even though he’s been at this for a long time. He opened us up to recording analog and recording to tape. After that record, we got inspired to buy our own equipment. So we recorded and produced this new EP ourselves.
“For awhile through messages and posts online, we’ve been hearing from people wanting to hear acoustic songs, an acoustic EP, or an acoustic tour. People have wanted us to do something acoustic. Last year, we had some downtime so we figured we would work on it. We moved some equipment into our office in downtown Phoenix and we wrote some tunes and recorded them. We recorded new songs instead of older stuff, which I think is really great about this release. It broadens our horizons with our sound again. Diversity is important. We’re just trying to take steps forward, sideways, wherever, everywhere except backwards.”
Looking back at the releases before Imaginary Numbers, O'Callaghan talked about what he's taken away from the albums the band has been able to release.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve taken away from each step is how fortunate we are to be able to experiment and take our sound to different places. We’ve toured with plenty of bands who aren’t bands anymore. That’s really very humbling. When we go out on the road to see the support that we see, that’s awesome. That’s what makes me work harder. As far as the tunes go, each step of the way we’ve been completely on board with what we’ve been doing. The development or however you want to see it is an indication of where we were at the time. We weren’t listening to the Rolling Stones when we were 18, but now that’s a staple for us. It’s an indication of who we’re listening to too,” added O’Callaghan.
The Maine have done all this changing while managing to stay a band. If you think about all of the bands that The Maine came up with through their years on Fearless and after, you’ll come across a number of them who aren’t making music anymore. When asked why they’ve been able to hold everything together, O’Callaghan said that it’s largely a group effort.
“I think it’s a testament to quite a few things,” started the charismatic singer. “First, it’s where we come from. The group of friends we surround ourselves with and our family, they contribute to that too. It also comes down to who we surround ourselves with on the road. We all do a really good job of keeping each other in check. We also have learned a fine balance of knowing when to push someone’s buttons and knowing when to leave them alone. We’ve learned to live with each other. We also have a passion for music. We were young when we started and our passion of listening and making music has grown a lot from where it was when we started. We realize that this could go away at any moment and we just appreciate it for what it is.”
To go along with the release of Imaginary Numbers, The Maine has announced an acoustic tour. You can find those dates on the band’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMaine. After the short acoustic tour, they will be playing some international dates until the summer here in the U.S. when they’ll be jumping on Warped Tour, their first in five years. You can get Imaginary Numbers on iTunes now.