An Interview with Kennedy, Garrett and Pat of The Maine - July 29, 2010

By Valerie Bennett

Despite being on the scene for only three years, the boys of The Maine have really tapped into what makes great, long-lasting pop punk music. With the immediate success of their debut album Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and their recently released follow-up album Black & White, The Maine has built a solid fan-base, one for which they will do anything to give back.

I had the distinct pleasure to sit down and catch up with guitarist Kennedy Brock, bassist Garrett Nickelson, and drummer Pat Kirch, on their tour bus prior to their Toronto show. The guys finished each other’s sentences as they talked about their first-ever headlining tour, the new album, and what the future holds for them.

Valerie: So, obviously this is a big tour for you guys – it’s your first-ever headlining tour. How does that feel?

Kennedy: It’s been awesome. The kids have been coming out and we’ve been with our best friends. It’s been great.

Garrett: I cannot complain.

Pat: Dream come true.

Valerie: Wow, went that far. (Laughter) That’s great. Is it safe to say you prefer headlining over opening?

Pat: Yeah, I mean they both have their different perks, but as far as playing different shows every night, yeah.

Garrett: Yeah, the kids have been wild.

Pat: But I think after this, it’s going to be fun to like fight to win over some fans again, rather than just play every night, where everybody knows all the songs. It’s going to be nice to go back to opening for people.

Valerie: Right, right. So this tour is presented by Alternative Press, but I heard that you actually approached them. How did that come about?

Pat: We’ve worked with them a lot on different stuff, and us and our manager have a really great relationship with the owner and everybody over at Alternative Press. When we thought about the idea of the tour and thinking about sponsors and stuff, we didn’t want to get some big corporate sponsor to give us a bunch of money or anything. We just wanted people that can help build our culture of what we want to be as a band, ya know; people that have really supported us since day one when we had nothing and up until now. So that’s why the decision to approach them first as opposed to anybody else, and they ended up being the ones sponsoring the tour.

Valerie: That’s great. Obviously you have a very close relationship with them.

Pat: Yeah, yeah.

Valerie: How did that start? Just from your beginnings?

Pat: Yeah, the very beginning, they featured us a few times.

Garrett: Yeah, then they asked us to do the AP Tour and we did the cover for that.

Kennedy: That was great. We had a really good time on that tour.

Pat: Then they gave us a cover again this summer, which is incredible - two in one year.

Valerie: Wow, two in one year. Is that a record? That’s pretty good.

Pat: I don’t think it’s a record. I think that’s the highest it’s been, but I think other bands have done it, though.

Valerie: Ah, but still, that’s pretty rad. Congrats!

Garrett: Yeah, it’s insane. We’ve subscribed to that since sixth grade or something. (Laughter)

Valerie: I’ve heard that you’re doing things differently with this tour – you’re playing a 90-minute set and you’re staying afterwards to do a meet and greet with all of the fans. Where did this idea come from? It’s not really conventional.

Garrett: We’ve been thinking about headlining forever, but it just hasn’t like…
Pat: Felt right?

Garrett: Felt right, yeah. And we couldn’t find bands that we were super…

Pat: Excited about taking out.

Garrett: Yeah.

Pat: Or bands had other things going on when we wanted to do it and stuff.

Garrett: And so we were just like, “Hey, let’s bring out This Century and Austin Gibbs and let’s just go and do it.”

Kennedy: We wanted to bring out our friends. Bring out people we really want to give a chance to.

Pat: Music we really believe in. I think it’s just a great show every night and a lot of great music is played every night. Hopefully.

Kennedy: I think we take pride in trying to give back as much to our fans as we can.

Pat: We’re able to do [the meet and greet] because we only have one other band, I guess one and a half bands, playing before us so there’s more time for us to hang out with everybody and stuff. It makes it cool and hopefully everyone walks away happy at the end of the show.

Kennedy: We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it.

Garrett: People walk away saying it’s the best show they’ve been to so we’re excited about that.

Valerie: So it’s been received well then?

Garrett: Yeah, yeah.
Valerie: Wicked. Tonight’s show is the only Canadian date on your tour. Why is it important for you to come to Canada for one show and play for Toronto?

Kennedy: Toronto has been amazing for us, every single time we’ve been here.

Pat: It’s one of the best markets.

Garrett: We look forward to coming to Toronto.

Kennedy: We definitely try to make it a stop on every tour.

Valerie: Well we’re stoked to have you, and glad you made it here. (Laughter) Let’s talk about the reason you’re here and doing this tour. It’s in support of your newest album Black & White. How has that been so far? How has the response been to it?

Pat: Really cool. We really weren’t sure what to expect and just kind of went into it [like] we made an album and wanted people to hear it. More kids are singing the sing-alongs in new songs, and night-by-night just getting better and better.

Kennedy: Yeah, it’s been really cool to see.

Pat: I hope people enjoy the album. They say that they like it.

Garrett: So either we’ve got some liars or…

Pat: They actually like it.

Valerie: (Laughter) Now would you say that your sound has changed or more evolved since Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop?

Pat: I’d say it has…

Garrett: Developed.

Kennedy: Evolved. Developed.

Garrett: And it still is. It does it all the time.

Pat: I don’t think we ever want to make the same record twice. Obviously this is only our second record so we haven’t had much opportunity to make the same record twice.

Garrett: But we put out a good amount of music for how long.

Kennedy: We’ve done different things and continue to listen to different music.

Pat: And we’re more and more just trying to figure out who The Maine is, as people and musicians.

Valerie: Right. So to me Black & White seems a lot tighter execution wise and in production as well, so how did that process differ from the last album?

Garrett: It’s probably the opposite.

Pat: It’s actually weirder that it sounds tighter, which I agree with. The last one was very cut and pasted. I would record a verse of a song, stop and then record.

Garrett: That wasn’t because he couldn’t do it. It was because we didn’t have the songs written fully so we had to come up with some parts and we’d have to do the drums parts.

Pat: Or make it up.

Garrett: Some songs weren’t completely finished when we were actually recording. And then this time we all were in a room when Pat was recording, playing with Pat. That’s why it has kind of a live vibe to it.

Pat: Literally all of the drum takes were done and there were literally some songs that were done it two takes or one take.

Kennedy: it was just fast.

Pat: I remember “Don’t Stop Now”, that’s the first song on the record and the first song I recorded, and I think that was done first take. We didn’t go back and edit anything too much or anything. It was just us playing in a room and that’s kind of what it sounds like.

Garrett: And the last song “Colour” – like there’s mess ups. It was a total jam at the end. Pat just puts drums…

Pat: And the bass part that you’re playing… I mean it works but it’s not the exact right notes of what the song is and stuff.

Garrett: But it was like total one time, just go for it.

Pat: And we didn’t want to…

Kennedy: Go back and mess with it.

Valerie: It’s more authentic; it’s kind of raw this way. As well, all of the songs really seem to flow so how much thought did you put into the song selection and sequencing for this album

Garrett: That was probably the least thing we thought of.

Pat: The last time we really cared about it and it ended up not being what we wanted, but we sat and talked about it. Then with this one, we just liked all the songs so it didn’t matter where they go. As far as selecting what ten songs made it onto the album, it was just like a natural selection.

Kennedy: Yeah, the best songs made it to the top.

Valerie: So really within the past two years since Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and three years since your formation, you’ve come so far; so far so quickly. How have you grown in that time?

Pat: A large amount? (Laughter)

Garrett: Well when we all started this we were 16 so it’s been so crazy to think back to what I was doing at 16 and where I am now.

Pat: I think what’s even weirder is how much we have changed but how much we’re still the exact same. (Laughter)

Garrett: I don’t really know how to explain it, but we’re still all really immature at times.

Pat: We just have a better idea of what we want to do.

Garrett: Music wise and band wise we have a very straight idea, we’re very straightforward.

Valerie: Would you say that the changes that you have faced have felt forced or has it been natural?

Garrett: It’s been very natural.

Kennedy: But even more so now, it’s just been more and more natural.

Pat: We’ve changed literally, even just as far as the way we look, like our first pictures compared to say a picture from last week. It’s just so different. But it wasn’t anything that was really talked about. We’ve just naturally changed. And how knows by the end, what we’re going to be sounding like. We’re all going to change and I think that’s how we keep getting better. We keep ourselves on our toes and always be changing our sound and look.

Valerie: In tune with that, I think you guys have mastered the art of pop punk, so my question personally is where do you go from here? What are you hoping to improve upon?

Pat: I guess we’re just going to see where the world takes us.

Yeah, we have some stuff floating around already, not that we’re planning on recording or even thinking about it.

Pat: It’s way too early to tell what we’re going to be thinking in a week from now.
Garrett: This happened the last time we recorded. We had songs we like a week after we were done in the studio. I couldn’t tell you what they sound like. (Laughter)

Pat: Those songs fuel the ones we will write.

Valerie: So when that happens, when you write just after you’ve recorded, do those songs have longevity? Do they last until you’re getting ready to write the next album or do they sort of disappear?

Garrett: One or two of them kind of did.

Pat: Some do, some don’t. Like we said, the best ones rise to the top.

Kennedy: When it comes down to it, we’re going to pick the best songs.

Garrett: It’s funny because we go back to demos we had one the last record and we’re like, “Wow, that was awesome. Why didn’t we do that?”

Pat: And we can make those work; it’s cool.

Valerie: Like you were saying, it’s pretty early to tell, especially because Black & White was just released and you’re still at the beginning of the tour, but in a general sense, what do you think the future holds for The Maine?

Pat: Hopefully lots of music being put out and lots of tours happening. Basically us never stopping making sure our fans get what they deserve and thanked for supporting us because it they weren’t out there, we wouldn’t be in here.

Valerie: Well put. What a solid note to end the interview on. That was amazing. Thank you very much guys I really appreciate it!