On The Road – The Maine

“Sometimes people just need to hear the words, ‘You Are OK’. We need to hear it sometimes too.”

We caught up with The Maine bassist Garrett Nickelsen in the middle of the UK leg of The Mirror Tour to recap the band’s extensive 13-year career and talk about maintaining a community, releasing music independently and what the rest of 2020 holds for them…

Having made their first appearance on the scene back in the Vans Warped Tour dominated year of 2007, Arizona’s The Maine are no strangers to the alternative rock world. With many of their peers having called it a day since, the band’s forward-thinking attitude has kept their heads above water for the past decade, adopting an independent and fans-first approach. Taking the side road and paving their own path to success, the quintet have consistently been releasing genre-bending and dynamic records, constructing their own unique community in the process.

Following their hearts and staying true to their sound, the band’s latest album, ‘You Are OK’, presents them taking yet another momentous sonic leap, captivating fans worldwide. Currently bringing their iconic The Mirror Tour over to Europe for the first time, we sat down with bassist Garrett Nickelsen to discuss everything from the message of ‘You Are OK’, to the unique bond they’ve cultivated with their fans…

You’re currently giving The Mirror Tour it’s debut on this side of the globe, described as an “immersive audio and visual experience”. What can fans expect from these shows?

Garrett: It’s definitely unlike any tour we’ve ever done before. There is a narrative arc to the whole show with ups and downs and we have an LED screen that tells the whole story. It’s emotional but still really fun, and we’re also playing a longer set than we usually do.

How did you go about picking the setlist for this tour?

Garrett: That was pretty hard actually. We knew that managing the emotion of the set was more important than just playing the songs that a lot of people want to hear. The mood we wanted the show to have helped us choose the right songs, but we also wanted to throw in a couple of tracks that we’ve never played before or haven’t played in years. It’s been really fun.

You released your seventh album, ‘You Are OK’, almost a year ago now. On reflection, how do you feel about this era of The Maine?

Garrett: We just hope people liked it. Some of the highlights of these shows has been playing the new stuff. One of the greatest parts of the night is when we play ‘Numb Without You’, it’s been really special at every show. People sing super loud and it’s amazing.

The title of the album seemed to really hit home with a lot of fans. Why is that sentiment so important to The Maine?

Garrett: In the world right now everything seems crazy. Sometimes people just need to hear the words, ‘You Are OK’. We need to hear it sometimes too.

The Maine have now been a band for 13 years, and even though you’re still going strong it seems as though much of the scene you came up in is slowly dwindling. How have you maintained the community you built so long ago?

Garrett: For as long as we’ve been around we’ve always tried to do our own thing. We are always just trying to create the music that makes us happy at that point, and I think our fans can see that. We’ve explored so many different sounds over the years and I think that’s what has kept us around. We really care about our fans and they have been the light over our band.

Since the band formed it feels like you’ve all come a long way not only musically but also as people. How do you feel your personal growth has impacted the way you operate as a band?

Garrett: I think the longer we do this the more comfortable we get in our own skin. Also traveling the world really helps you to realise just how similar everyone is. The struggles we all have are universal, as is the happiness something like music can give you. We are just so happy that we still get to do this after 13 years. 

You’ve been releasing music independently through your own label, 8123, for almost ten years now. Why do you think this has proved to be the best route for The Maine?

Garrett: We like to make the decisions that work best for us. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen you can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. 8123 has allowed us to forge our own path and give our fans the things that we think are important. When we were signed to a label we would end up doing some things we didn’t totally believe in. We’ve released so many records on our own record label now and it just gets easier each time.

One thing that’s incredibly striking about The Maine is the deep connection you have with your fans. How did you generate such a strong bond?

Garrett: By being real. That’s the whole basis of the bond. People can have a genuine conversation with us after a show and we aren’t trying to be too cool or something we are not. I think that’s why we are still around. It’s never felt fake, we just like playing music and want to keep doing that.

Having been in a band for such a long time now, what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt?

Garrett: Be real! That’s it. Make the decisions that are truly good for you. That’s all you can do.

Once the European leg of The Mirror Tour comes to an end, what have The Maine got planned for the remainder of 2020?

Garrett: I think we are going to start working on new music. We want to try and have a new record out before the new year! But who knows?

The UK leg of The Maine’s The Mirror Tour is now drawing to a close, but don’t miss your chance to see the band playing at the remaining shows. Get your tickets here.

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