THE MAINE frontman JOHN O’CALLAGHAN is not ashamed to admit that a certain Canadian one-hit-wonder from the ‘90s are a guilty pleasure of his. Nor is he afraid to drop such names as Neil Young and Tom Petty when detailing the current rotation on his daily playlist. Taking a break from Warped Tour where the Maine are killing it daily and bringing down the house with their cover of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, O’Callaghan chose to set things straight about what skeletons are hiding in his musical closet and dive head first into the musicians that made him who he is today.–Aaron Fowler
Photo: Dirk Mai
What is your earliest recollection of music?
My birthday is in the summer, so my family and I used to go up to Lake Tahoe for vacation and I remember listening to a band called the Crash Test Dummies. Every time I hear the song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” it reminds me of Lake Tahoe. Every time I play it, my band gets pissed off, but I fucking really like that record. [Laughs.] It’s very nostalgic for me, and it just takes me back to when I was young.
Is there any music that your parents listened to that influenced you?
Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and the Doors are some. My dad is a huge music buff. He can’t really play music, but he really enjoys it and is always turning me onto new stuff. He played Wilco for me, too. I actually got a chance to see them in Milwaukee, which was pretty badass. I always try to play new stuff for my dad, but he never seems to blink an eye at it. [Laughs.]
Which artists did you get into when you started to get out on your own?
There’s so much. The first concert I ever attended was Millencolin and Homegrown. At the time, I was really into everything on Drive-Thru Records. Bands like the Starting Line, Rx Bandits and the Movielife were what I was really into at the time. Of course, I was also into Blink-182 and a little bit of Green Day, but that slowly changed.
What band made you want to become a musician? You know when you get that feeling when you go to show and you’re like, “Fuck, I want to do that!” I got that feeling when I went to see Blink-182, Green Day and Jimmy Eat World. But it wasn’t Blink or Green Day–it was Jimmy Eat World that made me want to do it. I’m from Arizona and they’re from Arizona. Seeing the success they have had–especially in our home state–was a huge eye-opener for me. It started making me take music more serious and made me want to write songs. I never thought I’d be able to do it, but it at least put that thought in my mind. That was probably the first time I was like, “Holy shit, this is incredible.”
Which record cycle was that on?
It was actually when Bleed American came out. I was in eighth grade. That was when they had all those singles out. However, I think Clarity is their best record.
Were there any albums you turned to for emotional aid? A record that really stands out in my mind is Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie. That has been like a crutch of mine. It’s one of those albums I can listen to all the way through and not have to change songs. I’ve played it so many times in my life and it fits so perfectly with whatever emotion I’m going through or whatever shit I’m dealing with. That has to be the number one for me.
How did the Def Leppard cover make it into your repertoire?
We wanted to do something fun for Warped Tour and do something for people that don’t know our band or don’t give a shit about our music. We wanted to do a timeless song that everyone knows and we just came to the consensus that the song was what we wanted to do.
What is currently circulating in your iPod right now? I’ve been in this house music phase, but I’ve also been listening to Ryan Adams and a lot of Tom Petty–probably too much. [Laughs.]
THE MAINE WOULDN’T EXIST WITHOUT:
IVORY: “They aren’t a band anymore, but they were a huge influence on what we were doing early on. I’m still really into their record, Goodnight Goodbye, and we definitely wouldn’t be where we are and probably wouldn’t even be a band if it were not for them.”