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The Maine Taps a Rare Vein

Photos by Audrey Lew

The Maine is ten years old in 2017. There was a time when bands reaching the decade mark was commonplace; back when there was money in the industry it wasn’t particularly unusual to hear about bands celebrating their ten years in existence, with bands such as Motley Crue putting out the Decade of Decadence compilation album, and Slayer releasing the Decade of Aggression live album back in the 1990s. All too often nowadays, one of two things happens: Bands split sooner, or nobody really cares if they’re still together or not. When they do stick around as is the case with The Maine, we’re entitled to ask, why? What is it about a not-particularly-lucrative musical career that is so enticing? This is, after all, a band from Tempe, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Hardly the rock ’n’ roll capital of the world, but also within reach of one of its bastions.

The core of any band blessed with longevity must surely be friendship. A band spends a lot of time together. Like, a lot. The average tour for an up-and-coming band involves a couple of hours of performing on stage, and a whole lot of sitting around together in-between. Sitting around on a bus/van, sitting around backstage, perhaps sitting around at a middle-of-nowhere diner, but all just sitting. Together. You get to know each other’s smells and dirty habits. It’s certainly a closer relationship than the average day-job colleague thing.

While many would argue that you don’t have to be best friends to make that work, it sure helps if the musicians like each other, and share a mutual respect. If you are tight buddies, it’s going to make the whole thing easier. It’s easier to laugh off your closest friend farting in the bunk above you than someone you’re simply putting up with. Bands do survive in a sea of shared animosity—just ask the aforementioned Motley Crue. But usually, chaos ensues. See Van Halen, Faith No More, and even Oasis.

Here we have Garrett Nickelsen and Patrick Kirch, the rhythm section, who met at the tail-end of 2006 and decided very quickly that they needed to make music together. They held auditions and John O’Callaghan, experiencing some sort of moment of divine intervention, decided to give it a go despite zero vocal experience. Guitarists Jared Monaco and Ryan Osterman soon completed the lineup but by that time, the glue was setting. You have a tight-knit rhythm section and a singer who is new to the game, and you already have interview-talking points.

By December 2007, the boys were signed to Fearless Records, one of the great punk rock indie labels. From there the band never really looked back. But it’s important that we return to the original questions. Why have The Maine, and all of the original members, by the way, remained together for a full ten years? Yes, they got signed relatively quickly. Yes, they’ve pulled in an enviable fan base that happens to be fiercely loyal. Yes, the most recent album, 2015’s American Candy, was well-received and the band hasn’t really suffered a setback since starting, despite passing through labels like Warner, Sire, and Universal. Yes, things have gone almost-weirdly smoothly.

But that’s really the answer. Thanks to some good judgement, some talent, and a whole load of luck, the men of The Maine haven’t really found a good reason to part company. And why the hell should they? Long may they continue.

Look out for more posts from us talking all things The Maine to celebrate the band’s 10 year anniversary!

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