A phrase and a feeling. For the early production stage of their sixth studio album, this is all The Maine had to run with.
The Maine, an alternative rock band from Phoenix, released their album “Lovely Little Lonely” on April 7.
Promoting their new album, the band embarked on the “Lovely Little Lonely” world tour in late March, and made a stop at Stage AE in Pittsburgh on Monday evening.
Consisting of John O’Callaghan (vocals), Kennedy Brock (rhythm guitar), Jared Monaco (lead guitar), Garrett Nickelsen (bass) and Patrick Kirch (drums), The Maine have existed since 2007 and have kept the same member makeup for most of their span.
The journey leading to the new album and world tour started months ago in Heber, Ariz., where the band began pre-production work for the record at Monaco’s family cabin.
When approaching the new record, O’Callaghan said that he had the phrase “Lovely Little Lonely” in mind for the title, and an inspirational feeling for what he wanted the album to sound like.
“It was as vague as the feeling you get when you’re at the bottom of the deep end of a swimming pool,” O’Callaghan said.
During pre-production the band sifted through various ideas and melodies to create a track list that included three transition songs that would help create a cohesive album and convey the deep-end inspired feeling.
“We didn’t set out to write [the transition] songs ‘Lovely,’ ‘Little’ and ‘Lonely,’ but we knew we wanted to make a seamless record,” O’Callaghan said.
“We wanted to make it an experience from start to finish and more of a saga than little episodes.”
These initial ideas guided the band’s choice of recording location, eventually choosing a house off Airbnb with an ocean view, located in Gualala, Calif.
Located three hours outside of the closest major city — San Francisco — Gualala provided the band a lot of variables while recording “Lovely Little Lonely” but also some major advanges.
“Logistically it can be a funky scenario, but that’s part of the creative process which is fun,” O’Callaghan said. “The upside is incredible views and a great vibe to be around creatively.”
Monaco added that the view and vibe were crucial to the creative process, seeping into the sounds of the record.
“The things you’re creating start to reflect your surroundings,” Monaco said. “I can tie the scenery in to how the record actually feels.”
After a few months of planning, recording and editing, “Lovely Little Lonely” was released earlier this month, receiving strong positive feedback from fans and listeners.
After its first week, “Lovely Little Lonely” was No. 15 on the Top 200 chart.
The record was also the No. 4 alternative album, No. 3 vinyl album and No. 7 independent album, due to its release off The Maine’s own record label called Eighty One Twenty Three.
Much of the early success of “Lovely Little Lonely” is credited to The Maine’s dedicated fan base, often called the 8123 family.
Monaco considers the fans’ response to the new record as probably the best that the band has ever seen before.
“I think it’s the first time ever that we’ve had something that instantaneously is noticeable right off the bat, as far as the shows go,” he said.
The term 8123 refers to a location where the band members and their friends gathered together prior to The Maine’s existence.
The phrase now has extended to the following and friendship among the band’s fan base.
In the early stages of The Maine’s existence, O’Callaghan explained that an emphasis was placed more on the band name and the band at that time, rather than the collective community built around it.
“Once that phased out we started to lean more into the idea of something larger than our music,” he said. “We want to facilitate and nurture that for as long as we can because it’s way stronger than just putting out a record or putting on a show.”
With creative freedom under their own label, The Maine have shifted their mindset and the sound of their music, keeping their fans in mind every step along the way.
Considered a pop-punk band in their earlier phase, The Maine have naturally progressed to cover a wider range of genres during their span.
“Bands in the [punk] genre can do whatever they want but for us we’re always focused on the fans and giving them what they might want,” Monaco said.
“We’re focusing on the moment — trying to put the emphasis on what is happening now and not what happened 10 years ago,” O’Callaghan said. “But at the same time acknowledging it and appreciating it.”
2017 marks a 10-year anniversary of the Maine’s formation and debut of their first album “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” but this year is hardly a nostalgic farewell from the band.
“Lovely Little Lonely” and success of the Eighty One Twenty Three label have shown that The Maine are far from finished, and perhaps proves that a band can peak 10 years down the line.
“So much has changed since we started out, but look at where we’re at now and what we’re doing. I would hope that that is just a sign to people who are starting out now that you don’t have to go out and follow a formulaic method,” O’Callaghan said.
“The more you can do for yourself, the better. Don’t be afraid to say no. There should be nothing that makes you compromise your creative vision or your passion.”