The Maine

There are very few artists today that have what you might call a “Do It Yourself” (or DIY) attitude. They may even have it early on but eventually get caught up in the notion that their list of responsibilities on tour decreases because they have people to do that kind of stuff now. Some think their only job is to get on stage, play music, and get off and then when they go to record an album, it is a similar process. This is the point in which bands can get stale and lose focus on why they are really there and they lose the excitement of changing things up every once in a while to surprise their fans. Speaking of fans, this attitude can also affect the way that their fans view them. Going in the same direction and getting more popular can hurt their personal interaction with their fans. Many bands fall into this hole but among them there are specific bands that seem to fight this stereotype and have the creativity and imagination that is needed to avoid succumbing to this notion. One of these bands is called The Maine.

I was introduced to this band pretty far into their career. When my girlfriend and I first met about 3 years ago, she introduced me to The Maine. I will be honest, when I first heard them and started researching them, I was not a big fan. It was a little too pop-punk for me and that is how their first couple albums sounded and they were in that scene at the time but I did like a couple of their early songs. After a while however, they kept growing on me more and more especially when I listened to their albums that came out after their first two including Black & White, Pioneer and Forever Halloween. The big turning point was when I went to see them live my first time with Melanie for the support of the Forever Halloween album in Boston. I loved it. It was just good, catchy rock n roll with poppy songwriting. I started seeing who these 5 guys were and their history. Also, found out that they run their own record label called 8123.

As I started to listen and research more and more about The Maine, I started to understand where their heads were when it comes to their music and where their hearts lie in what type of music that they make. This is where that D.I.Y. mentality kicks in. The Maine have never gotten very big recognition in the mainstream but they have a cult following of fans, including Melanie, who have been with them since the start. Even though they have gained a little more recognition, especially since the release of their second to last record, American Candy, they still hold true to their ideals and their fans. They actually call some of their fans, over the phone, who have pre-ordered their album. Also, after every show, they come out to the main floor and take time out of their day to give a few hugs and take a few pictures with their loving fans. Their fans are the most important people in their lives.

On the other end of the D.I.Y. idea for them is how they tour and how they record. Throughout the recording process they use the same van they have been using since they started out touring way back, which has a bunch of scratches and graffiti on it. They help to build and create their tour sets and help assemble the gear. Especially for their current tour in support of their brand new record, Lovely, Little, Lonely, they constructed most of their sets by themselves using wood and spray painting amp cases for the show while at the same time, rehearsing for the tour. For the recording process, in the past few years, they have chosen specific places to record the album. For example, for Lovely, Little, Lonely, they chose a great house, feet from the coast of California, in a secluded area to record. It was not a fully stocked studio. They brought their own gear and recording materials and made their own studio in the house. They explained that the environment is important because the environment in which they record comes out on the record. They really put themselves to work for their music.

Apart from being a D.I.Y. band, they have always stuck true to themselves. Starting out, as I mentioned above, they were part of this pop-punk scene and that is the way in which the label that they were on was looking for them to go. However, they did not want to continue making records that way. I would assume it would be boring for them. Instead, they decided to put out a record behind the label’s back and make something that they really loved. Considering their background, they are a band that really likes to take risks with sounds and they like to try new things to make themselves better and more interesting but still staying in a pop-rock genre that most of their fans love. No two albums of theirs are the same. They started off pop-punk then went into more of a concrete rock direction, with a little country thrown in, with Pioneer. Later, with Forever Halloween, they became more experimental with “outside-the-box” music and songs with some a little heavier than their usual tunes.

Forever Halloween is my personal favorite in addition to their brand new album, Lovely, Little, Lonely. A little while after Forever Halloween, they came out with American Candy which brought them out of the grungy, dark and experimental feel of Forever Halloween into this much more upbeat and exciting vibe. They explained that the album was a big step in what type of music they wanted to make. It was rock n roll but with poppy song writing that was meaningful and deeper than your average pop-rock. It was catchy and energetic. I believe that the ideas in American Candy and Forever Halloween came together to form the brand new record, Lovely, Little, Lonely. It has the pop-rock, catchy tunes but the song writing is a little darker and the album includes experimental sounds and breaks within the record. One of the members explained that Lovely, Little, Lonely is their most important record to date.

I love The Maine because they seem to always be looking for something better and more interesting. They become more and more mature with every record they make. Their backbone stays the same but the attitude and themes of the records seem to change and that makes them an exciting band to follow. They care deeply about their fans because they understand that without them, they would not be able to do this everyday. They put their time and effort into every aspect of their music, whether it be touring, recording, or releasing. They are also just a really fun band to listen to so I suggest checking out The Maine as soon as you can. If you are a fan of pop-punk, I would start checking out their early stuff and go from there. If you are not so much of a pop-punk fan, I would start with either Pioneer or Forever Halloween and then expand to their more recent and early stuff.

Have fun!






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Robot Genius

“They let the robots do their dirty work for them.” That is a paraphrased quote that I heard while watching a documentary on the very well-known electronic duo, Daft Punk, called Daft Punk: Unchained. This quote stuck out to me and it was only in the first 5-10 minutes of the film. It set the tone in which I would, from then on, view Daft Punk.

I have always been a steady fan of the group, listening to them every now and again. I am not really a big fan of house, EDM, or other electronic music other than Phantogram, which have their own very unique music and style. Even though it is fun to dance to and listen to at parties, etc, I never found myself actually immersed in the genre. It did not grab me like others did, it became repetitive after a while. That changed when I started listening to Daft Punk to which I was a late bloomer. Their music grabbed me unlike most other electronic music. The more I listened to it, the more I realized how much care, precision, and skill went into this music. You can actually hear it. You can tell that, apart from the other music they sample, there was plenty of music that they mixed and produced themselves and actually performed on as well. DJs using instruments!? Who knew?!

After watching this documentary, I walked away with a whole new respect for Daft Punk, who are Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter of France. They began as members of an indie-rock band in France who had a talent for DJing and mixing and decided to call themselves Daft Punk based on a negative review of their prior band. Many interviewees explained that people started to listen to these guys a lot and very quickly because of their unique sound and the clear skill and talent they possessed. The turning point was after their first record came out and they started to gain fame and momentum. Thomas Bangalter was really interested in the millennium blackout theory and they decided that they would go into the studio as humans and come out as robots once the new year hit. They never went out in the public eye as their human selves again. The “robots” were their new personas.

This is what really struck me and got me thinking about that quote I heard above in the beginning of the documentary: “They send the robots to do their dirty work.” I got the feeling that they cared so much for their music that they did not want their personal lives, looks, and human selves to hinder the perception of their music whatsoever. It is all about the music to them. They use the robots to do all their “dirty work” such as award shows, live concerts, photo shoots, and other appearances. I do not think that is what matters to them. Yes, it was great when Random Access Memories won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year, but it is not what is most important. These days it seems there is less and less of and importance on the music and that is with any genre. In the last couple years I have focused more and more on less popular bands and music because of this. Apart from that, Daft Punk play live very rarely and have long gaps between records. They seem to be perfectionists which is a breath of fresh air considering it seems today the music business is a wasteland, week after week of generic top 10 iTunes pop songs and of people taking advantage of technology and using it in a way to release music more and more frequently to make more money, faster.

The “robots” of Daft Punk have been able to make themselves a household name these days but do it without compromising or corrupting the music they make which seems to get better and more interesting with every album. They don’t have to worry about their age getting in the way. Robots can live forever.

By the way, do yourself a favor….sit back….and listen to Random Access Memories.


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