the maine
[Photo via Spotify]

In 2018, the Maine announced the departure of the Lovely Little Lonely era. In celebration, and memoriam, the band held a farewell funeral show to properly say goodbye to the album. Clad in deep red formal wear, soft red lights dancing on the stage and red roses brought by fans, the Maine put the LLL era to rest. Unknowingly at the time, the Maine later revealed that they had been teasing their latest album, You Are OK, at the funeral show before its announcement.

Despite touring and shows being placed on indefinite hiatus due to COVID-19, the Maine are hosting a virtual funeral show to officially send off You Are OK. Hosted as a livestream through the Pillar platform, the Maine have created a funeral ambiance and encouraged their fans to connect with one another during the show, albeit through a computer screen.

Frontman John O’Callaghan caught up with Alternative Press to discuss the end of an era and the looming excitement for their next album. You can purchase tickets to the Maine’s virtual show on Aug. 29 here.

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When the Maine held the Lovely Little Lonely-era funeral in 2018, you hosted the funeral procession as a show in Maryland. How has the farewell to You Are OK and being in Arizona where the band originated affected the grand send-off for you personally?

I actually talked about it yesterday with Pat [Kirch, drummer]. It’s really interesting how much you can learn just by way of going through things and experiencing things and putting in the effort. We did a similar thing for Forever Halloween. We did a series of shows. I think it was four [that] we strung together that we called Farewell, Forever Halloween. And that was a sampling of sending these records off for their Viking funeral where it doesn’t really mean that we’re never going to play any of these songs again. It just means that we’re time-stamping it so it is known that here’s something to come. It’s like chapters of a book.

I feel like Pat described it pretty well in that we put so much time and effort into making these records, just the five of us. Then we spent two years taking them around the world, and they’re not ours anymore. They’re for anyone and everyone. We like to think that by tapping these different chapters of our band, people can then associate different moments of their lives within that given chapter. So it makes it more identifiable as far as ending the cycle here. We started the whole cycle overseas in England. It was really a shock to see how many people came out. We played our biggest show ever in London at the start of this cycle. To be able to finish it at home is really nice. 

When the band were discussing how to say goodbye to You Are OK, were there other ideas discussed for how the era should end?

I think we just enjoyed the experience in Baltimore sending off Lovely Little Lonely so much. We’ve got such a great reaction. People were so supportive of it. I think at this point, people that follow what we do are pretty in tune with the idea that we’re pretty over the top—as far as accessibility and what we’re trying to give away of ourselves. We did a show at the same place at the Orpheum Theatre at the start of the record cycle.

Because you’ll essentially be in an empty room playing for a virtual crowd, it almost amplifies the funeral ambiance. Where did the idea of the funeral show originate from?

Well, the initial one in Baltimore, truth be told, we knew that we were going to be recording out there. We knew that we were going to be recording You Are OK, so Pat, I think, had the idea of if we could put this show on in Baltimore while we’re out there and then that same day announce that we’re going to be starting a new record pretty much the day after, it just felt like turning the page on the chapter and looking forward to the future. I think that’s a similar spot where we’re in now.

Honestly, you guys are the first to know that we’re pretty much 95% done with album eight. So that’s in the can. I think this is a good opportunity to, again, be able to write the end of the cycle but then also illuminate these people to the idea that we have new things on the horizon. It’s the end of this era. And it’s time to look forward to the future.

At the LLL-era funeral, all of the fans were instructed to bring fake red roses to the show, and they were placed on the edge of the stage while you said goodbye to the album. How are you creating a similar atmosphere with a livestream show?

Well, we’re putting a lot of emphasis into not only to the hour-and-a-half that we’ll play, but the hour prior, we already have [decided] that we’ll be playing on the website. We’ll have a virtual pop-up shop that people can walk through. It’s meant to be more than just the hour-and-a-half. We haven’t played together in months. We’d rather play for a couple of thousand people in a room. One huge thing that we failed to even remember is that there are so many people in areas of the world that we’ve never been able to travel to that [they’ll], for the first time, essentially be able to watch us live. I’ve got messages from people from Israel and all sorts of places that we would love to visit. We just have never had the opportunity. 

Flowers On The Grave” is a prominent track featured on You Are OK and the name of the show. The lyrics “Everything is temporary” seem fitting to our world right now. Why was this song selected as the keystone theme of the livestream?

To be honest, I think it just stems, no pun intended, from the idea of not being the same person you were last week or last month or last year. I think for me, we’ve had the opportunity of documenting our lives. But at least for me personally, I’ve been able to document the better part of my life in song form. So for me, it’s really important to acknowledge the passing of time. I just had my 32 birthday, which is crazy. Just the fact that I’m 32 now and I’m still able to promote the idea that you’re not alone. And I don’t know if those feelings ever go away. I’m still 32, I’m engaged, I’m about to get married, but those feelings never really leave. They just change a little bit.

“Flowers On The Grave,” for me, is just a really important message to myself that it’s hard to remember that when we were starting You Are OK and making it, I was just as stressed out as I was on the first record trying to write lyrics and write songs, and somehow you get through it.

“Flowers On The Grave” bears a striking resemblance to the imagery you used for the LLL-era funeral. Was that intentional to tie the records together?

Certainly, the aesthetic was intentional. Every record is a different moment in time. So I’m not intentionally trying to string together too much from record to record. But they’re certainly not here and there. We try to remind people of the past two years and not only about two years [but] the past two albums.

The show will be livestreamed from Pillar. Tell us more about Pillar and why it’s crucial in our music community.

For us, we’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that we’re accessible. We’ve been so fortunate that there’s such a devout group of people that give a shit about us. We have hundreds of songs on records that are available for everyone on Spotify and iTunes and everywhere. And then we have a whole mess of songs and ideas and videos. And that might not interest that whole community. That might only interest a sliver of the people that listen to our music. Pillar is really for those people. It’s for the people that want more. [The people] that want demos, that want old videos that we dig up from our first days in the van.

It’s more so about all things the Maine, creatively. And for us, it puts us in a position to want to create more, to finish ideas that we started years ago that, for whatever reason, we didn’t see through. We’ve been afforded the luxury of having a studio and to be able to record those and finish those ideas and put them out to people that are really excited to hear them.

I want to briefly go back to wrapping up the next the Maine album. Last time you had a farewell show, you announced a new album almost immediately after. Now that you’re closer to completing the album, we should be expecting a new record relatively soon. What can you tell us about the new album?

Relative is a strange term these days. [Laughs.] Who the hell knows when we’re gonna be able to give it the proper release that we think it deserves. With that being said, I went straight from finishing the album, but I’ve already gone into the phase of recording my first John The Ghost full-length. And then on top of that, we’re already talking about doing another project that we think would probably come out before the Maine [record].

As far as this record goes, I don’t want to compare it to any of our records. I will say I didn’t want to shy away from the pop aspect of our band [and] I ended up writing some songs with people outside of the band. I feel like [it] gave me the opportunity to gain a new perspective. I’ve been so reluctant to co-write since our second record, Black & White, because I had such a bad taste in my mouth from the experience. But I was completely open to it, and I think it helps. I think there are four songs that I co-wrote with on the record. I personally feel like it really helped develop a new sound for us. It’s really interesting trying to think in your head like, “What can we do to reinvent ourselves on our eighth record?” We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. So I think I lean more into the pop element.

I think based on Lovely Little Lonely, American Candy and You Are OK, I think the last three records helped us place more of an emphasis on a record in its entirety. Bands are putting out records with 19 songs, and 11 of the songs are a minute-and-a-half long. They’re just filler, in my opinion. From my perspective, it feels like that’s a play to try to get more listens on Spotify. It’ll be a concise record in that it’s exactly what we wanted people to hear. And I’m just really excited to finish the damn thing.