Punk-rock band Maine discusses independence

March 6, 2014

Courtesy of Fearless Records

If we live in a world where we can call Miley Cyrus punk rock, then The Maine might as well be The Ramones.

Unlike the famously sedated band, though, thus far in their career The Maine has avoided boycotting, suing or writing angry songs about their record label.  Instead, they stayed with Fearless Records for several years before deciding to take the do-it-yourself route, building their own studio to self-release their music — this move might be considered the punk rock high road.

Before taking the stage at the Studio at Webster Hall on Feb. 27 for “An Acoustic Evening with The Maine,” a few of the band’s members — drummer Pat Kirch, guitarist Jared Monaco and bassist Garrett Nickelsen — sat down with WSN to talk about their new independence, and the fans that have stuck with them through the years.

The band released their most recent album, “Forever Halloween,” via 8123 Management, a management company founded by their friend and manager Tim Kirch.

“We want to make the music we want to make, and a lot of record labels want to control what you’re doing,” Pat Kirch said. “We just didn’t find enjoyment in making a product just to sell or be on the radio as opposed to a record that we’re super proud of.”

The Maine’s sound has changed significantly from their beginnings as pop scenesters to their recent, pared-back, indie rock inclinations. Five years ago, one might have grouped them with the likes of Boys Like Girls, All Time Low or Mayday Parade. But the band currently draws inspiration from the likes of Tom Petty and Jeff Tweedy, and their latest full-length was produced by Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs. Fans, however, have stuck with them as they have matured, Nickelsen said.

“We see a lot of the same people on the same tours that go to a bunch of shows, and have been going since 2008,” Nickelsen said. “There’s a girl coming tonight that’s gone to 70 shows. They’re growing up with us.”

The Maine’s die-hard fans support the band even as they change their sound. The band has not pigeonholed themselves into a specific, static genre, so their music appeals to new fans while retaining a core fan base.

“That gives us so much more freedom, because we’re not afraid to take steps where we think something’s going to be a little bit outside of our fans’ comfort zones,” Monaco said.

Punk is no longer about a specific look or sound — its meaning has been diluted. If The Maine’s strategy of doing whatever they want and embracing DIY is not totally punk rock, then what is?

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, March 6 print edition. Alyssa Buffenstein is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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