Listening to the pop-friendly melodies of THERE FOR TOMORROW, you’d assume that the Orlando, Florida, group would cite the standard Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World when asked their earliest influences. But frontman MAIKA MAILE offers up a wide range of musicians who helped paved the path he would eventually travel-from Metallica to, well, Dad.
INTERVIEW: Lucy Albers
PHOTOS: Adam Elmakias
What are your earliest memories of listening to music?
The first album that I bought with my own money was the Black Album by Metallica. Soon after that, I got every Metallica album [that came out before that]. Every song they wrote from, like, 1982 to 1991 reminds me of being 9 or 10 years-old and sitting in my darkened room with my cassette player and learning [to play them] by ear. I think that’s really what developed my musical ear early on. I love the attitude and heaviness behind those songs and the confidence that music gave me. At the same time, I had a lot of different influences. I think I’d listen to Hanson or something at the same time. I’d pop out the Metallica tape and pop in Hanson. I listened to everything. I listened to reggae because my brother and the rest of my family were really in to that whole realm of music. I like hip-hop as well; I loved Bone Thugs-N-Harmony when I was like 8.
How did you usually discover new music?
I would say the internet, but I wasn’t really capable of using the Internet at that younger age. I think I probably heard a couple songs on the local rock station and just went out and bought the albums.
What artists influenced you personally to start playing music?
There was no one in specific. I guess my father and my culture and background helped. My dad’s from an island in the South Pacific called Tonga, and he played guitar and sang. He came [to the U.S.] and played in the luau at Disneyland, then went to Orlando when they opened Disneyworld. So he was an entertainer when he was my age, and I think that influenced me a little bit. He was so heavily involved with music and there was always some kind of music playing in my house.
Who stuck out to you as a lyricist the most?
Probably none of them. [Laughs.] I didn’t really listen to the lyrics that much, I was really just involved in the music. It wasn’t until more recently that I started getting deeper into lyrical content and what people are saying. When I was listening to Metallica or something like that, I wasn’t really paying attention to what [frontman James Hetfield] was saying. That’s mostly because I had no idea what he was talking about when I was that young. When I started getting into pop radio and songwriting a little bit more, I could see the importance of lyrics and how music with a meaning is what usually lasts.
Were you involved in the local music scene early on?
I think I got really involved with the underground hardcore scene when I was about 15. I used to go to all kinds of shows and all kinds of bands. I would mosh and stage dive and all that kind of stuff. I just loved that music and the aggression and sense of unity you have with the other people around you yelling the same words and jumping on top of each other. It kind of got that testosterone-driven part out of me. I was really into the hardcore scene, but I’d also go to other shows that came through town. My friends and I listened to Thrice a lot when we were like 15 and 16. I specifically remember going to see Thursday, Coheed And Cambria and Thrice r at the House Of Blues in Orlando. We’d go to shows like that, but other than that, I was really into the underground hardcore scene. There’s not much happening music-wise in Orlando; it’s mostly just clubbing. That seems to be the dominant music there now: club songs.
So what moved you from hardcore to the more pop-oriented music of There For Tomorrow?
Well, I had a huge appreciation for hardcore, but at the same time, I listened to more acoustic stuff like Tommy Emmanuel. Like I said, I listened to hip-hop and reggae and country and pop radio. Early on, I understood that being close-minded about music only prohibits you from what you can really learn from all the different genres and backgrounds. I think there’s just a certain appeal that singing and more melodic music has that music without that melodic-driven atmosphere doesn’t have. It can cater to so many more people and I just kind of latched onto that. We didn’t force it; no music There For Tomorrow play is forced; it’s just what we like to play.
There For Tomorrow wouldn’t exist without:
Metallica: “The black album was the first album I ever got and heavily got into.”
Jay-Z: “Jay-Z has been at it for so long, like 14 years. If you can still be at your peak 14 years into your career, you’re doing something right.”
Foo Fighters: “It’s just good, raw emotion. [Frontman] Dave Grohl is just so convincing.” alt