Pioneer, the Final Round

The Maine’s John O’Callaghan

Finishing up their fourth tour-promoting Pioneer, The Maine is trailblazing their way through old and new fans alike. Along side them are old friends, Mayday Parade and new acquaintances The Postelles, from New York. The Maine’s John O’Callaghan (lead vocals) was kind enough to give me the low down on the final round of the Pioneer tour.

Salak: How is the tour going?

O’Callaghan: Going really well. We’re just about halfway done–We go until right before December. Fortunately we get to go back home for Thanksgiving. We have a show in San Diego the next day and then Arizona is the last show. It’ll be good to be at home, we haven’t been home for a couple of years. The tour has been awesome, everyone is really, really cool.

Salak: The last tour I saw you perform with Lydia and the Arkells. What made you change the line up for this tour?

O’Callaghan: Well, Mayday and us are run by the same person; the tour was proposed to us and both parties were interested. We toured with Mayday in the states about four years ago, so it’s been a while. We came to terms on who we wanted to open the show and the band the Postelles, from New York, really brought a classic rock vibe…well not classic rock but more of a British infused rock and roll and we all seem to mesh really well.

Salak: Yes, that was the first concert I saw you perform was with Mayday Parade.

O’Callaghan: Yea, and we got to tour with them overseas a little while ago, so it was good to see them again and it’s been nothing but fun.

Salak: How have the fans been this time around from the last tour?

O’Callaghan: They’ve been great, man. I think everyone will agree that it’s a unique crowd for us. Some people are there for the individual band but I think the . We have the opportunity to play for some new kids. So whenever you get the chance to get in front of new faces, I really think that’s important for growing a band.

Salak: Something I was reading was that you (The Maine) wanted to play a new set for each show. Would you say that’s been the most important part of this tour? Or what were you guys really trying to accomplish this time around?

O’Callaghan: We just didn’t want things to get stagnant for our band. We wanted to keep things fresh as far as that’s concerned. The first week it took a little bit to get used to it, but since then we’ve created a bookend to start and end each show and the middle is different. We just feel, or have noticed the last couple of years on tour that there are some kids that go to five or six shows on a tour and we wanted to give them a unique show each time. It was a difficult thing to do because we have so many songs in our back catalogue so we condensed it to 35 and we’ve been choosing from those. It’s definitely something we want to keep doing.

Salak: I saw that you had posted on Facebook to fans out on the east coast, how did hurricane sandy affect the tour, if at all? Did the band reach out to help or aid the relief efforts?

O’Callaghan: We have yet to. I’d like to team up with someone, especially because we know people who’ve been affected by it, but that still remains to be seen. Very unfortunate stuff.

Salak: The music video for “Misery,” which we talked about last time, was a more intense video from past ones and your new music video, “Like We Did” seriously had me falling out of my seat laughing. It was so ridiculous. Why did you decide to have such a drastic difference in attitude for these videos?

O’Callaghan: I think for us it’s important for us to take things seriously but also, you know, life is not serious and I think our approach has never been straight-faced so the way of divulging a little bit about our sense of humor and our individual character. I think it was a good balance. A good concept is a good concept, so, the concepts that we have, or that people bring to the table that are serious, we’ll talk about but I really believe that there has to be room for lightheartedness.

We didn’t start out that way and I never, well, serious isn’t the best word to use because we are serious about what we’re doing but, you know what I mean?

Salak: Yea, you are passionate about what you do but you want to maintain that lightheartedness…

O’Callaghan: Yes, intense is a better word to use. And I see that becoming a trend in the future.

Salak: Can you tell me about the brainstorming process for the video?

O’Callaghan: Initially I had the idea of choreographing a dance for elderly people. I wanted it to be like 65 and older. My mom evaluates and instructs a group of elderly people so I was asking her and trying to get her to be up for it. But since we said sayonara to our label the budget obviously for the video was next to nothing. So getting things into place to really have that carried out would have taken money we didn’t have. So we went online and decided to do it ourselves.

I think the grand total for the video was $5000, so we probably would have spent way more on a different video. Dirk Mai filmed and directed the video and he’s never done anything like that so it was cool to experience all of that together and learn from it all.

check out the video for “Like We Did” here…

Salak: Do you think you are going to have any other music videos before the tour is over? I know you are all so busy…

O’Callaghan: Probably not before the tour is over but I’d like to have one more. We actually had a buddy, a mutual friend, from Nasty who ended up making an animated video and just put that out for us. That’s probably the closest thing we’ll get to an actual video. Ugh, I’d like to make it more of a point on the next album to incorporate more visuals. But seeing as the future is uncertain and open as far as everything concerned, but at this point that’ll probably be the last video.

Salak: Are you planning on self producing the next album?

O’Callaghan: Umm, not planning on it to be honest. We’ve had names in a  hat and throw around a couple of names but I think it’s necessary for us to get back into the hands of a producer and work with someone who understands what it means to be a band a little bit more. And someone who will provide an environment for us to make the best album we can. I think that’s what would be ideal. But again, we’re not nervous about having to do that again.

I think we would like a helping hand, but we’ll just have to see.

Salak: Once the tour is over are you going to go away and start the new CD?

O’Callaghan: Yea, that’s the plan. Starting December 1st, we will be in a room together in Tempe, AZ and we’ll be writing. I have a lot of material written, but sort of the next step is to bring all that to the table. We all sit with it together and work accordingly from there.

I’d like this next effort to be much more focused, and more of a finished thought. I think that will all depend on how we go about it in December. I’m looking forward to that. Mostly January will be the start of when we hash it all out.

Salak: Is it important for you when you are writing your music for you to be in seclusion, away from it all?

O’Callaghan: I actually have a lot of it already written. I wrote when I was at home—I can’t write when I’m on the road. When we were putting the tour together I had a good amount of time writing on the piano at my house. I feel like I know there is a record written in there somewhere, we just have to figure out what that record is going to be as a group. I don’t see much more writing going into it as far as brand new ideas. I would say it’s already written at this point.

Salak: Do you feel you are pulling a lot of experiences from this past year into the new CD? Travel, friends, love, loss…

O’Callaghan: I think subconsciously yea, it’ll all work itself in there whether I’m liking it or not. I think a lot of it is more personal, more my voice than ever before, which I am excited about. A lot can change once we are all together but we’ll just wait and see.

Salak: So you really write the songs and then come together and compose the music to go along with it?

O’Callaghan: Ugh, correct, and kind of the arrangement.

Salak: Do you feel like there is a good balance between your personal life and touring?

O’Callaghan: I think there is no such thing, or separation; it just is what it is. And at this point I think that’s a good thing because it’s really all I have. Yea, I think if it were any other way I would feel too idol, like I was sitting still and becoming complacent, so, I like the way it works right now. It’s a good thing, it means people are still somewhat interested in us and we’re relevant. When it stops, that’ll be the depressing part.

Salak: How was it overseas?

We got to visit Italy and Spain for the first time, so that was really amazing. And Paris was a weird show, we played on a boat, so that was different.

Salak: I loved the collaboration between you, Arkells, and Lydia on the beetles hit “with a little help from my friends” and the past couple of years The Maine has done a cover for the albums “punk goes…” Have you ever considered having a duet of sorts on the CD? With another band? or a female voice?

O’Callaghan: Collaborations always require spontaneity; so planning is usually useless when it comes to that. I have however pondered the idea of having someone of the opposite sex on a track where it sees fit. Completely open to the idea of both, though, I have no specific person in mind. More so just a thought at this point.

As the last tour for Pioneer comes to an end, fans may leave the last shows in anticipation of the next CD, the next tour, and all The Maine’s music has to offer. Whether they once again self-produce or find a good fit with a new record label, John has reassured us that they are going to make another great album for their fans and can’t wait to begin their travels all over again.

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