On the back of a successful album and EP release, and having just completed a massive tour of the UK, we sat down with front man John O’Callaghan to talk about Imaginary Numbers, the 8123 documentary and what’s next for the Arizona natives.
By Mark Plummer
The latest album has been out for almost a year now, and you released an EP at the end of last year; which songs have worked best and are the most fun to play, anything that you won’t be taking off the set list anytime soon?
We’ve had the chance to play quite a bit of both the album and the EP and felt pretty good about how both went over in the live setting. That being said, there are still a handful of tracks from Forever Halloween that we’ve yet to play and I’m really looking forward to trying our hand at some of them soon. The set list we’ve come up with for the next run of shows is pretty balanced and is feeling good during rehearsals so hopefully people are pleased with it!
Acoustic songs and sets are always treasured by fans, how have your fans taken to your recent acoustic tour?
All the shows sold out, save for one which is always a reassuring thing. I feel like it was a great opportunity for our band to push ourselves in a different direction and focus on musicianship and becoming more unified as a band. The support we’ve been shown only makes us strive to become better and that’s something we can’t thank people enough for.
Were there any interesting and unique recording techniques you tried out on the Imaginary Numbers EP?
Seeing as we recorded the whole thing in-house all by our lonesome, everything felt rather unique throughout the process. We were (and still are) getting familiar with the room we’re working in so each time we set foot in the studio we’re trying to learn something new.
At what point do you, as a band, decide: “right, we now need to start looking ahead to our next release”?
Once we’ve done our fair share of running around and playing the most recent work for people around the globe, we have a decent idea of when it’s time to make new tunes. I’m constantly writing and jotting down things when inspired but don’t start actually writing until I know we’re done touring and focusing on a new album.
Are there any recent releases that you’ve listened to and found inspirational to get the creativity flowing; anything you’ve heard and thought “I want to try to get that sound from this instrument”?
Absolutely. Not just musical inspiration but lyrics have been inspired by books I’ve read as of late. I’m all over the place when it comes to music so I’m constantly inspired by both past and present. Can’t think of any particulars at the moment!
The recent 8123 documentary you made is quite interesting, how did this idea come about?
The beauty of being unsigned is that spontaneity can now thrive within our dynamic. The idea was born because we knew we were playing in a nice theater in Tempe and figured it’d be a great place to film a set that many of our fans around the world wouldn’t have a chance to see otherwise. With the help of our friends at Kachina Creative we filmed the day and we were pleased with the way it all turned out.
As a band, how do you feel that the industry has adapted to piracy and the internet, is there anything that you feel has helped to keep you moving in such a competitive market?
I suppose hard work and attempting to remain in the attention spans of this ADD generation by continuously posting content and making people feel a part of what we’re doing. There is no equation or formula you can follow so we just do what feels right and try to be as earnest as possible in our approach.
What are the sort of challenges you have faced by not being tied to a major label contract?
The obvious difference is a lack of funding. We now pay out-of-pocket for mostly everything we want to do. From marketing to recording it’s all on our own dime so we have to be cognizant of each step we take. Our reach is also much shorter without a label so it’s tough to make releases known to a large group of people. Each decision we make helps us form a more clear idea of how we like to run things.
There have been bands who have split from a record label and gone it alone, only to return to a label for their follow-up release. Where do you see yourself for the next release and tour etc, is this how you would like to continue going forward?
It’s hard to say where we’ll be with our next release. We have most of our touring scheduled for the rest of the album cycle as of now so we won’t need help in that respect, but who’s to say what will happen with our next record. All we know is that we will make the music we want on our own terms despite our label situation.
What have you learnt as a band from going it alone, do you feel stronger in yourselves and your longevity?
It feels great being able to create what we want. We feel expression and art must derive from a sincere place and that is what’s providing us with the optimism and energy to keep this desire alive.
Many thanks to John for taking the time to chat to us. You can keep up-to-date with the Maine via: https://www.facebook.com/themaine