Guest Post: Americana Fans – You’re Gonna Love The Maine

Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Post
By Paige Williams of

I’ve never been a huge fan of country music. I don’t have good reason as to why, but I know the only country artist I’ve ever loved is Shania Twain (man, do I ever love her). My music tastes span many genres but can usually be described as “alternative”. I specifically enjoy bands that test the waters with new sounds across different albums. It keeps things fresh and allows me to keep expanding my horizons. One of my all-time faves (and I mean like, “would take a bullet for any of these 5 dudes” faves) is a band called The Maine. The combination of their music and who they are as people has made me feel more like their mom than their fan, and I constantly worry about if they’re drinking enough water and getting enough rest. They’re honest to goodness Good People and I’ll rep them forever. Their third album, “Pioneer”, was the reason I dropped out of school and started working in music.

So you can imagine my surprise the day my boyfriend hopped in the car midway through a “Pioneer” listening session and said “so, this is essentially a country album, yeah?”
Mmmmmmm what, what do you mean, how is this- oh my god. Holy smokes.

I think he’s right.

I was always so close to the record that I never really thought about it in terms of genre or sound. At its core, Pioneer could absolutely be considered a pop- country record. Actually, its predecessor “Black & White” could be considered a modern country record too. Oh my god, I’ve been a country fan all these years and no one told me.

The Maine started out as a pop punk unit, putting out songs similar to those of We The Kings and All Time Low. As their audience grew, they signed to Warner Brothers and released “Black & White”. On this record they tried to ~play the record label game~ and do things the way they were told. They wrote with other people, listened to the label about their sound…essentially tried to follow the rules, and put out a far more mainstream record than their previous releases. Around this time, they had an ominous dinner with Tom Whalley (then the president of their label). He gave a speech about never compromising on anything and staying true to their sound, which lead singer John O’Callaghan interpreted as some sort of sign that Tom would be leaving Warner as president. Two weeks later, Tom announced he was resigning and the band took the message to heart. When they started putting together “Pioneer”, the label gave them an “oh, that’s adorable” attitude and told them the only way they could release the record was independently. Never mind the fact that they were signed to a 7 record deal – something that’s seldom done in this age of digital music – or that it’s arguably an incredible record. They weren’t welcome to release it through Warner. So they started their own label and did it themselves, later leaving Warner behind entirely.

The album opens with “Identify”, which is decidedly more rock than country but features some very familiar guitar licks in between verses. The second track - a fan fave - is “My Heroine”. It’s stacked full of electric guitar, which somehow blinded me to the fact that the chords they were playing had a lot of twang to them. “Time” & “Some Days” are…well, I was going to say they were more rock leaning but I’m already going to take “Time” off of that list and throw it over to the country side as well. How did I never notice this?? “I’m Sorry” is an apology to me for not bringing this up sooner. The next few, which are some of my favourites off the album, are a little more rock. They often toe the line it seems, but these fall on the other side of that line. “Jenny” always struck me as 100% country and yeah, that probably should have tipped me off in 2011. “While Listening To Rock & Roll…” doesn’t just sound country; the lyrics remind me of if John grabbed the Country Top 100 and tried to combine the common themes. Turning that music up, the bars closing but wanting to get drunk, kissing a girl named Katie…honestly, would anyone like to time travel back 5 years and shake me until I understand? This album didn’t even try to hide its country roots, and yet I’ve never heard anyone mention it until 2 weeks ago.

This isn’t even venturing into the B-sides EP they later released. This isn’t talking about “Black & White”, or any country influences on their other records. It keeps going. I just never noticed. To be fair, rock and country came from the same origins. Classic rock often sounded very twangy and used specific instruments that we now associate with different types of country music. Their style circa “Pioneer” was very much Americana. I feel like someone just tore a blindfold off me and said SURPRISE!, showing me that this was happening the whole time while I stared at the inside of my eyelids under a piece of cloth.

But what this alarming epiphany has shown me is that The Maine has a whole other potential audience out there, perfectly primed to fall in love with them the same way I did. They’re incredible people, never causing controversy or scandal. They’re a band that I trust is 100% in it for the music and not the money. Being able to share them with a new audience brings me more joy than anything else, and I hope my documented existential crisis inspires you to give them a listen.
And always remember, don’t stop listening to rock and roll (or country music in disguise).

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