John O’Callaghan Interview with RARA’s Farm
John O’Callaghan Discusses American Candy
We chat with the frontman from The Maine about their exciting new album release, American Candy – out this week.
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As the release of American Candy, the fifth studio album from The Maine, quickly approaches, I had the opportunity to chat with front man John O’Callaghan. It was my first interaction with the talented singer, and he was instantly friendly and engaging. We started off chatting about how my daughter, Kerri discovered his band and introduced their music to me. I noted how unusual it was for her to be the one discovering the new music I was listening to, and O’Callaghan shared how he had a similar relationship with his father. Then we jumped into the new album.
Cretin: It seems that with each release from The Maine, we find an album that’s moving in a different direction from its predecessor? Based on the first two singles, it seems that American Candy is more of a pop-infused record than Forever Halloween. Was there a concerted effort to do that?
John O’Callaghan: It’s more around what the band is going through at that specific time, and what we are feeling. Forever Halloween may have exposed a more somber side, and it was really more of an introspective album. For this album, I had experienced a summer where I met a lot of people and created new friendships and as a result I was carrying myself with more positivity. It’s important to write songs from a more tangible place.
Cretin: What did you think about the finished product?
John O’Callaghan: This album has more of a pop sensibility. Our producer, Colby Wedgeworth embraced the approach that we took, on how we could disguise these pop songs as something different.I think that gave the album more meaning and purpose.
Cretin: So, you didn’t purposely alter your approach to develop a different sound on American Candy?
John O’Callaghan: People can see through music when you’re not sincere. We wanted something from a tangible point in our lives. We did try something different on this album, though. We brought our equipment out to Joshua Tree, California where we rented a house for 30 days to record it.
Cretin: Cool, and you worked with Colby Wedgeworth previously?
John O’Callaghan: He produced Pioneer, our first record off of Warner Brothers. It was a crazy time where we recorded it. We knew his work, and knew he’d go out to California with us. Colby is like us, he’s a young cat, very hungry. He’s not just making a record for a paycheck. It was really a no brainer.
Cretin: It’s been about two years since Forever Halloween, and 18 months since Imaginary Numbers. Have you been accumulating songs since then, or is it more of a concentrated compressed activity?
John O’Callaghan: On the last album, we went into the studio with 26 songs, which we whittled down to the thirteen that ended up on the album.
Cretin: 26 songs: That’s aggressive.
John O’Callaghan: It was too much. On this release, we wanted to make a more concise album. I brought in about eighty pieces on demos, which we whittled down easily. In Pre-production, we narrowed it down to twelve songs. Then when we got in the studio, Pat laid down the drum tracks for all twelve. We eliminated two after the drums were complete. That gave us four weeks to record the ten remaining songs.
Cretin: What’s the process for creating the songs? Did you all come into the session with idea? Do you typically all collaborate?
John O’Callaghan: I usually bring in the demos and then we work off of them as a group. If we just go into a room and jam we don’t make much progress. We’re all too scatter-brained.
Cretin: How about the order and placement of the songs, is that important to the band?
John O’Callaghan: It is really important to us. We’re making an album not just a group of single songs. Arranging the track listing for American Candy actually fell together easily. Before we left Joshua Tree, we spent a night and each of us took the tracks and put together our individual listings. When we were done, we compared them and went with the consensus.
Cretin: That’s refreshing to hear, there are so many artists these days who have abandoned the album concept.
John O’Callaghan: I’m a fan of albums, and we wanted to create an album where the songs fit together. You’ll hear that some stuff flows and fades nicely from one song to another… It’s cool to see the resurgence of vinyl. Pre-orders for this album on vinyl sold out the first time around, and we had to go to a second pressing.
Cretin: So speaking of old school rock, tell me about the reference to the band X and their song “Los Angeles” in “Miles Away?” (Grab the song now on iTunes: Miles Away
John O’Callaghan: The whole song is about a trip I took right before I started writing the album. I went to San Francisco to the Outside Lands festival. I was excited to see Tom Petty, and I hung out with friends, a little debauchery, and even played a little music. While I was there my friend introduced me to The X, and that album became one of my favorites.
Cretin: Do you have a favorite song on American Candy, or one with a bit more personal meaning?
John O’Callaghan: It might sound cliché, but the whole thing means quite a bit to me. That might change when we start to play them live, and after we see how the fans and our friends react after hearing the album.
Cretin: Can you tell us a little bit about the 24 hour event on March 31st, release day? Should your fans plan on being on line all day?
John O’Callaghan: It’s a fun way to give back to the fans. To let the passionate fans experience the excitement of releasing an album, and to feel like they’re a part of it. It’s tough staying awake 24 hours, though. We just did it for a video shoot and I’m still recovering, so I wouldn’t suggest it.
Cretin: Any final thoughts as we are readying for the release?
John O’Callaghan: Things are awesome for us now, and I want to thank everyone who has preordered this album, basically on a whim, after only hearing the two singles.
Cretin: To close, you’re heading out on a US headlining tour, with support from Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, and The Technicolors – When does it start? Will you hit Florida?
John O’Callaghan: It starts in about a week, and the nice thing is that The American Candy tour starts right here in Arizona, about a 15 minute drive from home. It’s a six week tour, where we hit Florida near the end. (You can get all of the details at Wearethemaine.net, but here are the Florida dates:)
5/14 Freebird Live, Jacksonville
5/15 State Theatre, St. Petersburg
5/16 The Beacham, Orlando – Tickets
(with Real Friends, Knuckle Puck and The Technicolors)
Take a peek at the first single – “English Girls”
Miles Away – American Candy
1. Miles Away
2. Same Suit, Different Tie
3. My Hair
4. English Girls
5. 24 Floors
6. Diet Soda Society
7. Am I Pretty
9. American Candy
10. Another Night On Mars
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