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By Amanda Savage
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These social-networking sites are a few of the ones that East Valley buzz band The Maine use on a daily basis to let people peek inside their world and reach out to their fans. It seems to be working, as they've garnered national interest, including appearing on the cover of next month's Alternative Press and reaching number 10 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.
"It's important to make (the fans) feel like they're a part of what we're doing and that they're involved," singer John O'Callaghan says during an interview in the bedroom of drummer Pat Kirch at his parents' Tempe house. He is surrounded by Kirch, bassist Garrett Nickelsen, and guitarists Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco, all ages 18 to 20.
So far, so good. The band has nearly 177,000 friends on MySpace and each member has anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 followers on Twitter, on which they post what they're doing in 140 characters or less.
"I will say a random thing like I went to Texas Roadhouse the other night, so I said, 'Eating a little bit of Texas,'" Monaco says.
"I'll give people, like, the latitude and longitude of where I am so they can come find me," Kirch jokes.
"I always do secret ones," O'Callaghan adds. Indeed. His tweet during this interview? "New Times."
Nickelsen and Kirch formed the band two years ago after playing together in a hardcore act called Kerosene Kids.
"We lost our singer and decided that we didn't want to play that kind of music anymore," Kirch says. "My older brother heard John singing and wanted him to try out for our band. He came over and played a cover song by a band called Ivory. I recorded it and showed Garrett and our old guitar player at the time, and we fell in love with his voice. We all met up together like a week later and started practicing."
The band took their name from Ivory's "Coast of Maine," the song O'Callaghan used to audition.
Actually, MySpace really helped the band get rolling, back when most of its members were still in high school, says Kirch.
"When we first started, we put two songs on MySpace and let them play out and started talking to kids, and it just started happening for us," he says. "Kids just told other kids about our band and followed our songs."
O'Callaghan says the new wave of bands are setting themselves apart by using social-networking sites to their benefit.
"Most bands have a MySpace or Facebook, and now you're going to see more of them jumping on Twitter," he says. "It just seems, like, why wouldn't you do that? You have the resources and the tools necessary to reach people that you normally wouldn't be able to — just from your bedroom. You actually have to go out on the road and do shows, but from your computer you can talk to kids and find out the reactions that they're having. It's easier to monitor kind of where you're at."
Thanks to social-networking sites, the Maine has gone further in their two-year career than most local bands go in 10. The band is signed to Fearless Records. Their EP The Way We Talk hit number 45 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart last year. The band's latest disc, Can't Stop, Won't Stop, which it released last year, is already gaining momentum with songs showcased on MTV shows such as The Hills, Bromance, and Making the Band.
O'Callaghan says it's weird to hear the group's music on a scripted reality series. "It's the best when you get all the girls that text you and say they heard your music on The Hills," he says.
In addition to raking in some MTV play, the band has toured with Good Charlotte and Mayday Parade and gigged on the Warped Tour.
"Good Charlotte was just surreal for us because we were all fans growing up," says Nickelsen of the pop-punk band. "It was cool to find out they were the nicest guys ever and they took us in and helped us out. We were like their little brothers on tour."
O'Callaghan says that Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, girlfriends of singer Joel Madden and guitarist Benji Madden, respectively, were often fixtures on tour. The band even stayed the night at Richie and Madden's L.A. pad. O'Callaghan says his mom freaked when he shared the news.
"I just said it in a casual, nonchalant conversation with my mom: 'Yeah, we stayed at Nicole Richie's house,'" he says. "And my mom was, like, 'Omigod. That's so crazy!'"
The band says there were no marathon Rock Band sessions or late-night parties during their stay. "We just went to sleep," says Nickelsen.
As well as gracing the cover of AP's March issue, out very soon, the band will hit the road on Friday, February 6, as part of "The Secret Valentine Tour" with We the Kings, The Cab, There For Tomorrow, and Versa Emerge. Then, the band will perform in late March on the AP Tour with 3OH!3, Family Force 5, Hit the Lights, and A Rocket to the Moon. The tour is scheduled to stop at Tempe's Marquee Theatre on Tuesday, March 24. And they've been confirmed for this year's Warped Tour.
O'Callaghan says he's excited to hit the road again.
"We're at the point now where it's been so long at home that I have dirty clothes all over my floor and I'm ready to leave," he says.