They have probably been asked this question a gazillion times, but just why is a band from Tempe, Arizona called The Maine? “It’s like any band name, the longer it sticks around the more acceptable and cool it seems to become,” says John O’Callaghan, the tall, handsome singer who fronts this rock quartet. “Like Foo Fighters…” Or The Beatles? “Yeah,” he laughs, “Like The Beatles. Originally we took it from a song by a band we liked called 'The Coast of Maine.'”
For all the band’s wanderings and despite name-checking a state that’s pretty much the polar opposite of their home, the band is proud to call Tempe, Arizona home: “We’re all from Tempe and grew up here, and we all have remained there. There is something really comforting about that.”
The Maine is completely independent with no label support, but, so far, there’s been no need for day jobs. Through touring, they sell enough records and merchandise to support themselves. O’Callaghan agrees that being in an indie band is like being a small business owner: “I’ve never had a business making candles or anything, but I imagine it’s very similar. We have to be fiscally responsible and take care of the business side.”
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After eight years of touring and releasing albums, The Maine’s fifth record, a bright and bristling pop rock set titled “American Candy,” came out in March and debuted in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart. O’Callaghan says the record doesn’t have a particular theme, but the band’s aim was for something less dark. “Less existential than what we’d been doing. I was tired of thinking about why are we here and all that stuff,” he elaborates.
It’s been a slow but steady build, one the Maine has pursued since leaving high school. “We formed the band while we were still in school, but we couldn’t tour until we left. So that first summer we set off on our first tour, just to prove to our parents and even ourselves that what we were doing meant something to people,” says O’Callaghan.
“In West Virginia, we ended up playing to two people—and they were two people we knew who we invited to the show.” You can bet their show at the House of Blues will play out a little differently.
If you go:
May 5, 8 p.m.
House of Blues
15 Lansdowne St., 888-693-2583
$20-$20, all ages
New York City
May 7, 6 p.m.
Best Buy Theater
1515 Broadway, 212-930-1950
May 9, 7 p.m.
421 N. 7th St., 610-784-5400