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For The Maine and Forever Halloween, Computers Are for Porn

For The Maine and Forever Halloween, Computers Are for Porn

When we last spoke to John O'Callaghan of The Maine, a year and a half ago, things were a little nebulous. Pioneer had just been rejected by the major label that had signed them to a seven-album contract one album ago, and it wasn't clear what The Maine's followup would look like or who would be behind it.

Things were pretty clear when O'Callaghan stepped away from some last-minute rehearsals to talk to Up on the Sun Monday night. The major is out of the picture, the band is opening a summer-long tour in Tempe this afternoon, and the followup, out today, is a snapshot of a band that knows exactly where it is, and why.

Up on the Sun: The last time we talked to you, you'd just released Pioneer independently after signing a long deal with Warner Bros. How has working outside the label changed your process as a band?

John O'Callaghan: A lot as changed. I think the majority of the changes have come within the dynamic of our mental approach and the way that we're kind of perceiving and viewing music at this point... the creative freedom that we've enjoyed since departing from a major label has been immense, and I think what people will hear, especially with our newest album, is the sincerity.

That's not to say that the previous material is insincere. I think when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, or too many painters on one single canvas--I think you can come up with things that aren't necessarily 100 percent you.

And that's because you have to jump through a lot of hoops and overcome a lot of approval and yes-and-no's. Ultimately you have to answer to somebody, and that's under any umbrella of a label.

[On Forever Halloween] we got to work with Brendan Benson, who produced the album. He opened our eyes to what it means to record the analog way, to tapes, so I think having had some of the experience we have had over the past year--I think we're a more cohesive band because of it, and I think we're closer now, as far as our music is concerned, than we've ever been.

And I think the vision that we do have--whether that's a little vision or a lot--I think it's able to be seen through at this point. We don't have to answer to anybody, so I think our mental approach has completely changed, and I think for the better.

Have your goals as a band changed? Is there something you want to do with Forever Halloween that you maybe didn't have in mind for Black and White and Pioneer?

I think the goal just became more specific, and it became a bit more geared toward the incredible fans that we've had and have. Being not only on a label, but being young, you can... buy into the idea that the whole world's gonna hear this. [But] what we want is the ability to continue to make records, and play those records for the people who care.

In some ways it becomes a bit esoteric; only a handful of people truly are passionate about it, and we're gonna do whatever we can to continue to do it for those people. But I think the goal is to not only maintain those fans and maintain those relationships, but build new ones and branch out. The world's a big place, and we've toured quite a bit in the United States, and I think we would like to explore more of the globe.

I think that would be one of the big goals on this album--to kind of set foot on foreign soil and experience shows in different parts of the world. I think we're just really fortunate with where we're at right now, and we don't wanna take the people who are listening for granted. We obviously owe everything to them. I think we're just trying to cherish what we have and build upon it.

After the jump: "Sonically, it's going to sound like a band. It's going to sound less digital."  

Is there something those fans might be surprised by when they hear the album? Something you think they'll appreciate about Forever Halloween?

I think that just off the bat, sonically, it's going to sound like a band. It's going to sound less digital. In the past we've had the luxury of computers... actually, we heard a quote at the beginning, when we were talking with people that might do the record. "A computer is for sending e-mails and looking at porn. A tape machine is for writing music and making music."

So I think we took that really strongly to heart, and with the help of Brendan--I think he really pulled a lot out of us. Sonically, people are just going to hear the real, raw sound of what we are. I'd like to think, too, that I put a little more of myself in the lyrics. And I hope that people can appreciate that.

It's all kind of caused us to be rejuvenated. The process that we've recorded in, and having to do this all on our own right now, it's kind of making us work harder and really think about all the things that we're doing as they come.

So what was that more analog process like? How did it change the recording process?

I would be lying if I said we weren't anxious and a little bit nervous to do it. In the past we've had pre-production, which is just a week-and-a-half or two weeks to prepare material that you've written, sitting with the producer and changing things up, and using his advice and working together to create what will be the final product.

On this album, we had one phone call with Brendan, and that was basically him telling us that he doesn't want to talk about the record until we're in a room together. He likes the vibe, he likes creating an atmosphere in an environment that will be productive and feel good.

So we stepped into his studio in Nashville and we started working that first day on a track. And he just kind of threw us into the lion's den, and I think it was because of that that we had no time to really freak out and over-think things.

So it's maybe a looser record than Pioneer?

Yeah, I think it's a more accurate representation of who our band is. I think you can fall into the luxuries of the computer and the tricks that you can do in Pro Tools, but especially in 2013... It wasn't like we aimed to make a record from 1973, but we utilized the tools that they had while still utilizing the technologies that we enjoy today.

[So] we didn't go in and doctor things up, we didn't put autotune on the vocals and fix drum parts, and I think if you listen closely to the album you can hear the speed-ups and the slow-downs of the tempo. I think if you listen to it all the way through and really hear the nuances, that's what people will ultimately appreciate.

At least that's what we as musicians appreciate, and I think it's the way that we should be doing music. I think that's the way a lot of rock bands should be doing music, but this works for us. Or at least it did. Maybe it was a fluke.

Read More: - John O'Callaghan Talks The Maine's "Intimate" Record Release Party at Zia Records - Are Out-of-Town Music Festivals Worth The Hassle? - a href="http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/uponsun/2010/08/10_ways_to_make_sure_your_fake.php" target="_blank">9 Tips for Using A Fake ID To Get Into A Show

The Maine is scheduled to perform Tuesday, June 4, at Tempe Marketplace. Forever Halloween, their fourth album, is out today.


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