I’ve always been a huge believer in supporting bands who are good people and good musicians. In fact, the older I get, I hold this sentiment to be even more true. That’s why when Arizona pop-rock/emo act The Maine announced their new album and a special NYC album release show, I jumped at the chance to see them again.
If you don’t know this band, or haven’t listened, you are missing out. “You Are Ok” is their seventh studio album, and for me is THE album that I needed at this very moment in my life. I don’t use these words lightly, but this album is a work of art lyrically.
The Maine at the YouTube Space in Chelsea Market NYC on the “You Are Ok” release day. From L-R: The Gunz Show, John O’ Callaghan, Garrett Nickelsen, Pat Kirch, Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Garrett Nickelsen, who serves as the bassist for The Maine about the new album, the upcoming Sad Summer Fest, and the possibility of taking their festival 8123 on the road.
First off, congratulations on “You Are Ok.” It’s your 7th studio album, and it feels like one of the more personal albums. Let’s talk about the writing process and how the concepts and ideas came about or started coming about. Did you find the writing process to get easier over time? Why or why not?
Don’t Be Subtle. Those were the first words we wrote down when we started writing the album. We wanted everything in your face and you know it. Sometimes we can get so caught up in these little things on songs and no one will ever notice them. Hell, after the record is done, WE probably don’t even notice them. We didn’t want any of that, everything that is on the song you know is on the song. It was by far the MOST difficult record to make. It took months to figure out even what we wanted it to sound like. So much of banging our heads on the wall until we finished “Slip the Noose” and that kinda was the marker of where we wanted to take things. Everything had to beat, or at least be as good as that song to us.
What’s your favorite track off the new record and why?
I think I’m gonna have to go with “Slip the Noose.” We had this song sitting around for a few years but couldn’t get the chorus just right. When we first started talking about writing, we knew this was going to be one we were gonna tackle again. Once we went for it, and that took a while, it came together pretty quick and became the first song we finished for the album. We just wanted to make the craziest first track we could and also showcase what the whole album has.
The Maine has essentially been an independent band since 2013. Do you think in today’s constantly changing musical landscape that artists should stay independent in order to fully interact with their fans on a deeper level and to maintain full creative control?
I think it really just depends on what kind of band you want to become. For some people, labels are great and can really help a lot. I mean when we started it helped a lot to be on a label just for funding and what not, but we’ve always been so hands-on with everything I think we always knew as soon as we’d have the opportunity to be independent, we would try that out. It’s so easy now to interact with people and it always been such a huge part of our band, even if we were on a label I don’t think that would be any different label or not.
What advice would you give to up and coming artists on remaining an independent artist and not signing to an indie, or major label?
It’s all about the people who care about what you’re doing. Think about what they (the fans) would love to see and be a part of and give them those things. It is so easy to get caught up in the “too cool for school crowd” – not meeting people and not interacting with them – but if you want them to love your band for a long time, then you need to make it only about them. We’ve always gone by the “we’d rather have 1,000 die-hard fans over 100,000 passive fans” rule. Just take the time to show you care about those people who really give a shit, it’s all you can really do.
Let’s talk about the announcement of Sad Summer Fest. Tickets went on sale recently, and you are co-headlining with State Champs, Mayday Parade and The Wonder Years. How did you all decide to get together to do this festival? Are there any sneak peaks or bread crumbs you can give us?
Actually, this is something we’ve talked about for years! With Warped Tour being gone, it finally seemed like something we could make happen. People love summer festivals, this just seemed like a perfect show for the people who really love this scene. We toured with Mayday more times than I can count, and we’ve been friends with the State Champs guys for a few years now. Once those two bands agreed, everything else kinda just fell into place. Its been very difficult to figure out all the details, but I think it will end up being an amazing day for everyone who comes out.
And lastly, 8123 is a festival that you all started in your hometown. Are there any plans in the future to take 8123 on the road? And if so, how soon can we expect it to hit the road?
As of now, we think it’s awesome to keep it in Phoenix. We’ve talked of having it in our cities but I think part of the fun is having people come to our hometown and getting to check out where we grew, and see the city the made us who we are. Also, Phoenix might be one of the few cities on earth that can have an outdoor festival in January and not freeze your butt off.
The Maine just finished their tour with Taking Back Sunday, and will be touring with Grayscale this month! Come July, the Sad Summer festival kicks off July 5th in Dallas, TX, and comes to NYC on July 16th! Make sure you follow The Maine on Instagram here to keep up to date!