Get ready to meet The Maine again for the first time. Admittedly you already know them as the band who blazed out of Phoenix, Arizona, two years ago with their Fearless Records breakthrough album Canâ€™t Stop, Wonâ€™t Stop, which instantly established them as one of the most exciting young rock acts around. You probably also realize that tours with a diverse roster of artists such as Boys Like Girls, All Time Low and 3OH!3 as well as a slot co-headlining last yearâ€™s Alternative Press Tour quickly followed and each step forward forced this group of teenagers to grow up quickly in the face of success. However few people would be able to anticipate how effectively the band would be able to harness that maturity on their sophomore full-length release and major label debut Black & White.
â€œI think touring so much has helped us realize who we wanted to be both as people and as a band,â€ explains the bandâ€™s vocalist John Oâ€™Callaghanâ€”who alongside guitarists Kennedy Brock and Jared Monaco, bassist Garrett Nickelsen and drummer Pat Kirch make up The Maine. â€œWith this record we just want to make it known that weâ€™re trying to be our own thing and the touring aspect has helped us figure that out,â€ he continues. â€œI think that this album is going to be awesome to play live and thatâ€™s a big thing because when we did the last one we had never been on tour,â€ Kirch adds when asked how the bandâ€™s hectic schedule helped them further develop their musical identity.
Recorded in California with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The All-American Rejects) Black & White sees the band stepping out of their comfort zone and creating a cohesive body of work that is an â€œalbumâ€ in the most traditional sense of the word. â€œThis time we really wanted to focus on the songwriting and make sure all the songs were great so no matter where on the disc you are you can tell itâ€™s an album instead of a bunch of songs that are thrown together, you know?â€ Kirch explains. From unexpectedly dark pop gems like â€œInside Of Youâ€ to nostalgic summertime ballads like â€œGrowing Up,â€ each track on Black & White defies categorization yet still retains the signature sound that has endeared the Maine to fans around the world.
Thatâ€™s not to say that the process was an easy one, especially when it came to nailing down the forty-plus sketches of songs the group had penned before going into the studio. â€œSome of this material was written right after the first record came out and some of it was written right before we went into the studio, but it was a tough thing to pare it down to the final ten,â€ Oâ€™Callaghan explains, adding that this was â€œa good problem to have.â€ One of the songs that came about late in the game was the albumâ€™s opener â€œDonâ€™t Stop Now,â€ which came out of collaboration within the band that occurred two days before they entered the studio. â€œWe recorded that song exactly the way it sounded in the room when we wrote it and I think you can hear the energy and excitement in the recording,â€ Kirch says. â€œIt was just so fun to play.â€
That energy and excitement lies at the core of Black & Whiteâ€”and although they worked with one of the biggest producers in the business they had a clear vision for the albumâ€™s sonic qualities and didnâ€™t want their emotion obscured by superfluous arrangements and unnecessary guitar tracks. â€œWe knew exactly what we wanted this album to sound like and Howard and his team totally nailed it,â€ Oâ€™Callaghan says. â€œA lot of bands these days are using produced samples from their Pro Tools right but we went the opposite route: We had a guy come in and play real percussion, Howard played keys and we played all the guitars, so thereâ€™s nothing on this record thatâ€™s going to surprise anyone as far as the instrumentationâ€”and most importantly weâ€™ll be able to faithfully recreate these songs as just the five of us on the road.â€
Oâ€™Callaghan found inspiration for Black & Whiteâ€™s organic nature by listening and studying the work of Tom Petty, an artist whoâ€”like The Maineâ€”has always focused on solid songwriting instead of trends or gimmicks. â€œTom Petty said, â€˜Donâ€™t let the truth get in the way of a good storyâ€™ and thatâ€™s what I really tried to embody on this record,â€ he explains. That sentiment is mirrored in the ambiguous nature of the lyrics, which have a more varied approach than the band have had in the past. â€œThere are definitely first-person accounts that are totally true in some of the songs but some of them are just stories that arenâ€™t meant to be perceived in any other way than how the listener takes it,â€ he elaborates. â€œMy goal was to make it easy for anyone to attach their own personal experiences to the songs without it sounding forced or contrived.â€
Ultimately The Maine are just excited to finally be releasing this album and getting it into the hands of fans who have been clamoring for it for the past two years. â€œIt feels like time has moved so fast and things have picked up so much, but it doesnâ€™t feel like this has happened overnight because weâ€™ve been working hard from day one to make songs that we enjoy and to interact with our fans every day,â€ Kirch summarizes. â€œWeâ€™re really excited about the future and I hope people can listen to Black & White from start to finish and understand what we were trying to do because we made an album that weâ€™re really proud of and we canâ€™t wait to share it with the world.â€