PopWrapped caught up with Jared Monaco, lead guitarist from The Maine, at Warped Tour 2014. He talked with us about his experiences recording Forever Halloween in a live setting and what it’s like to return to Warped Tour in 2014, after a five-year gap from the last time The Maine went on tour with the festival in 2009. Read about it, below!
Zachary Jaydon: What is your favorite record that you’ve been on, so far in your career?
Jared Monaco: I think the most recent record for The Maine, for me it was a milestone just because we recorded the whole thing live together in a room. We taped in Nashville which, for our band, was a new experience. In the past we’ve used more tools to layer the tracks and build the song as we go, but this time around we all just got in a room together ... and recorded.
ZJ: How did that change the feel of and honesty of the record? Do you feel like it made things a little more transparent?
JM: Yeah, I think the record has a pulse. I think it feels like a real entity. It’s not like a polished piece of work and there are mistakes on it. Yeah, I feel like that’s part of being in a rock band, you know, it’s very honest.
ZJ: Did it force you to hone and polish your craft before you guys went in there? Were you guys put under a lot of pressure?
JM: Yeah, I think so, man. I think we were kind of sweating bullets going into the studio. We didn’t know [what to expect]; we had never done it before. The guy that produced the record is named Brendan Benson … he kind of was our guide throughout the process. I was just nervous because he’s such a great guitar player… so I really tried to work as hard as I could and practice as much as possible. And, it ended up being awesome. The first night, after we set up, we got a song done in about 4 takes. So, it was just getting into that comfort zone. I think it was more of a head trip …
ZJ: What’s your favorite band to hang out with on tour?
JM: We’ve made good friends with the Saves The Day guys. I've always been a huge fan, and they ended up being the coolest dudes on the tour, so we try to hang out with them pretty often. And, you know, the Mayday [Parade] guys, the Summer Set’s from Arizona [too], so a lot of familiar faces out here. I feel like this year more so, we did it in ‘09 too. We’ve been around longer [than a lot of other bands] so we know a lot of guys on this tour.
ZJ: I remember when you put out "Girls Do Nothing Wrong." I remember that exploded on to pop radio…
JM: That was our first record, yes.
ZJ: That was great. And I think everybody wonders, what is it like to follow that up, where literally that song was the record of the summer and it was played everywhere on top 40 radio? Do you put yourself under crazy amounts of pressure to record that next Billboard charting album, or is it a more laid back process in the studio?
JM: We didn’t put any pressure on ourselves for the next record. Our record label did … We were on Fearless for the first record and then we signed to Warner Brothers for the second record … and it was a really interesting process going from being an independent artist, to being on a label, and then all of a sudden on a major label. There was a lot of pressure. They put me and John, our singer, in a bunch of different co-writing scenarios and it’s not really my vibe. I don’t really work best in that situation. I don’t think any of us did. We’re more of an ensemble, the five of us... So, [Warner] was just trying to churn out a hit. It was kind of forced, you know. So I'm kind of glad that we were able to get away from that kind of philosophy.
ZJ: Do you have a favorite song off of your new record?
JM: Yeah, I guess the title track, "Forever Halloween." For me that was really cool, we built it kind of like a rock opera. And it’s kind of a roller coaster, there’s a lot of different shit happening in the song. It’s like five minutes with [lots of] dips and turns. It’s very dark… that was kind of my favorite of the record.
ZJ: How has Warped Tour changed your career in terms of audience and in terms of experience? Do you have any advice that you would give to a band just starting off that has the dream of playing Warped Tour?
JM: For us, it’s been huge. I mean, like I said we did it in ‘09, so it’s been five years and now we’re back. So I feel like we’ve been sort of disconnected from the fan base for a while, so we wanted to come back and remind people in the Warped Tour crowd that we’re still a band and we’re still touring. We’re trying to get in front of new people too, so I think that Warped Tour is all about the amount of work that you put in, and you’re going to see results. You just have to be out there hustling everyday. [You’ve got to] walk the lines everyday. I hang up posters in the morning; we’re doing as many freebies as we possibly kind. So, it’s kind of like Groundhog’s Day, you just get up everyday and you do the same thing, trying to hustle. Like I said, the more work you put in, the more results you’re going to see… So many kids have actually told me, “I haven’t thought about your band since ‘09,” so it’s a totally different crowd than we’re used to when we tour clubs. We’ve built a core fan base [that way] but Warped Tour is a totally separate thing. So, it’s nice to reconnect with the people here.
ZJ: So, what’s next for The Maine?
JM: We’re going to go home, take like a month off, take as many showers as we can, and then we’re going to the UK and Amsterdam, we’re going to tour around in Europe. Then, when we come back home, we’re doing about four or five shows in the fall to close out the Forever Halloween record cycle. And then I think we’re going to come back to the studio.
ZJ: Are you going to follow the same format [for the next album] of [doing it live]?
JM: I think so, it still seems so far away, though it’s kind of creeping up on us now. I think we’re going to rent out a house and just get a cool place. We have all the recording equipment now, so we’re going to try to do it pretty much [by] ourselves. We might bring in Colby Wedgeworth, who did the third record, he’s a great engineer. So, assuming that happens … we just wanna be a kind of different vibe, in a different house and see what happens.