The Maine are on the cusp of releasing their seventh album, You Are OK and it includes some of their most honest and personal songs to date. Before it lands, we caught up with guitarist Jared Monaco to talk the 8123 community and their plans for their upcoming headline show at O2 Forum Kentish Town.
You’ve teased your upcoming album with two singles, are they a good indication as to what’s coming in the record?
I would like to think so. We actually went back and forth for a while trying to decide which one to put out first. I think ‘Numb Without You’ was the risky option considering it's a bit more on the heavy side of the album. Between that and ‘My Best Habit’, I think fans can expect eight more songs that fit somewhere in that spectrum.
Did you have any set ideas or goals for the album when you began writing and recording it?
We knew we wanted to introduce a new element to keep things feeling fresh, but it took us a few months to figure out what that was exactly. We played around with instrumentation and tried to forget the traditional way that we have approached our last six records. When all was said and done, we were able to marry organic things like keys, orchestral strings and loud guitars, to electronic pop elements. I think the album sounds very new and exciting if you've been a long-time listener of our band.
What’s the main thing you want fans to take from the new record?
Fans will always take away their own meaning, and I think that's the beauty of writing music. If nothing else, I think the album title speaks for itself. My hope is that listeners will take pause and reflect. If you have the time to sit and listen to an album, chances are, you are ok. And if you are not, you will be.
You’ve got a strong album catalogue now; do you feel like you’ve grown and changed as a band with each album?
Certainly. I can't say I would want to be doing this if that weren't the case. It's not just about learning to play guitar better, or becoming a better, well-rounded songwriter. Sure those things are important but at the end of the day, we are all much different people than we were 12 years ago when this whole thing started. There are so many factors that have added up to where we are now. I'm thankful for the opportunity to look back on the last six albums and recognise who I was at each point in time. It's a nod to the failures, successes and all the struggle that exists in between. We carry all of that with us now and can only hope to pull inspiration from the highs and lows.
If you were to pick one of your albums to sum up The Maine, which would you choose and why?
That's a tall order. We have gone through so many versions. I think American Candy is a great starting point. If somebody were listening to us for the first time, I would say start there. After that, maybe go back in time and hear how we got there.
As well as appearing at festivals globally, you also put on your own, what led you to the decision to do that?
We spent many years unable to land festival bookings. I guess after a while, we started to realise that if it wasn't going to happen like that, we could probably book our own. We have always had such a special and intense connection with our fans. The 8123 community is truly amazing. We started to wonder what a festival would be like in our hometown of Phoenix. Piece by piece, the idea became reality and here we are a few years later with two of them under our belts. Fans travel from all over the world to spend a weekend in Phoenix. We go all out, trying to make sure every part of that weekend is memorable. We feel very lucky to be able to do something so special in our home state.
You run the festival, your label and now a retail store under the 8123 brand, what’s it like being in complete control of everything you do as a band?
It's equally daunting and rewarding. On one hand, we have the complete freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. This has allowed us to create such a different, always-evolving experience for our fans and it is honestly the number one reason we prefer to be independent. On the other hand, it means we don't have an endless list of resources, so for most ideas, we have to think creatively to come up with a way to make them reality. All in all, it has led to some really creative and unique projects.
You have such a close connection with your fans as well, what’s been the most enjoyable thing you’ve done for them?
Besides 8123 fest, I think the most enjoyable thing for us as a band is watching our fans interact with each other. We have always tried to create an experience for our dedicated fans, but we never could have imagined how intense our community would become. One of my favourite stories (and I hear this one often) is when fans tell me they were hesitant to come to a show by themselves, but once they decided to do it they met an entirely new group of friends. I think the mini society that exists around our music now is something we never imagined was even possible.
You’re back in the UK soon for a London show, have you got any special plans for your performance?
We absolutely do. We're treating this as an album release show, so fans can certainly expect to hear new music. That's all I can say for now.
What’s your favourite memory about being in the UK?
We have been to the UK so many times now, but a standout moment for me was the release of Lovely Little Lonely. The first show we played after the album came out was in London. To this day it remains one of my favourite shows we have ever played. It was such an incredible way to launch into a new era for our band and we are so excited to come back and do it again for You Are OK.
What are you hoping the rest of 2019 brings for you?
I hope people enjoy the new album! And I look forward to traveling the world again, playing shows for anybody who cares to listen.
If you want to be one of the first people to hear songs from The Maine's new album live, then get your tickets to their one-off UK show now:
O2 Forum Kentish Town: Saturday 6 April Buy Tickets
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