Interview: Dave Elkins of Mae


I heard that Mae started as a two-piece and then you guys added more members. What made you decide to add more members?

Well actually what it was the two piece was a recording project, our bass player Mark has a studio back home and we’re good friends so he offered me some free studio time at his convenience when he wasn’t working so I wrote some songs and I was playing with our drummer Jacob just as friends. At first it was just a fun recording project and then it sort of accidentally turned into this.

You guys have only been a band for two years, what have you learned in those two years?

We’ve learned a ton like in the last six months we’ve been touring. We learned a whole lot about each other. We learned how to not just tolerate eachother but really become super good friends. And I learned a whole lot about the country. I never travelled before. For me I’ve seen the country across five or six times this year. That’s been amazing. It’s good to see bands that I’ve been a fan of for years like Elliott, and to be on the road with them and become friends. Things change so quickly, I guess.

Did you guys have any projects prior to Mae?

Nothing worth mentioning and nothing we ever did anything about.

Your website is, and I want to know… what is MAE?

Our drummer developed a theory called aesthetic theory and it deals with perception and beauty and emotion and sensory. So one of his bases to his theory is called Multisensory Aesthetic Experience and it has to deal with art and touching and experience more than one of the five senses at the same time. We hope to incorporate it into a live show sometime. Mae is an acronym but it came from a theory.

What do you guys have planned for the next album?

We’ve already written it pretty much. After August we’re recording demos and we should record the new record sometime in late winter/early spring 2004. We’ll play one or two new songs tonight. It’s kind of hard to tell. If anything the new album is more unified as a band since we started off as a recording project. Now that we’ve been on the road and we’ve experienced playing together for so long we’ve started writing songs together as a band and we’re really excited about how it’s going to turn out. It’s a bit more mature. We’ve learned from each other more musically.

You guys only had a one album contract with Tooth & Nail, have you had any other label offers?

We’ve had whole lot of label interest. Everyone from like Dreamworks, Atlantic and RCA but right now we’re just trying to figure out.. we don’t know what we’re going to do yet. Kind of nervous about the whole major label thing versus the indie label. Tooth & Nail has been amazing to us .

Tooth & Nail is a Christian label, what role does your religion have in your music?

Actually what I heard is that they’re not a Christian label anymore. When they approached us we asked them if we’d get pigeon-holed as a Christian band because we’d be on their label and they said they’re mainstream market, but you can still buy our CD at Christian bookstores and we’ve sold like 2,000 units at those stores but at the same time we’ve sold like 4 times that much in regular stores. I guess for me it’s just coincidental that we’re on a label that is or used to be a strictly Christian label. We didn’t even meet the label until after we signed with them. They didn’t even hear all of our songs before they signed us. As far as religion goes, I don’t know… we’re not a Christian band. We’re Christian guys but I guess we just write about life and songs people can identify with.

I really like the artwork for the album/website. Who did it?

Asterik Studios. It’s in Seattle. They’ve done some amazing records besides ours. They’ve done all the stuff T&N puts out, the new Poison The Well record, the new Brand New record, they’re amazing. I want to do my next record with them too because they’re so good.

What songs are you most proud of?

On the record… This Time Is The Last Time, the second song on our record and it’s the last song that we wrote so we had started to come together as a band at that point so it’s the most well rounded song for Mae and it’s the newest so it’s still fresh in a sense. Like Embers I wrote three years ago. But this one I wrote three or four months before the record came out.

A reader wanted to know why you chose to put so many effects on your voice in the album.. was it your choice or the producer’s choice?

I did a whole lot of that stuff where it sounds like you’re listening to a cheesy AM/FM radio. I won’t do that much next time around. The thing is we had no idea what was going to happen with this record so it was all experimentation. So next time we record we know it’s going to be out so we’ll spend more time making it a more listener friendly record, I guess. It was our decision for fun.

You’re touring with bands that don’t necessarily sound like you guys. Is that awkward or is it an advantage?

So far it’s been nothing but an advantage. So far every band we’ve been out with we sort of balance each other out as far as the tour goes. And we’re learned a lot. We learned a lot from Elliott, they’re super mature guys and they’re like brains when it comes to music. We’ve learned a whole lot from each band we’ve toured with. But as far as sounding differently it’s only made it more fun.

Your video for “Summertime” has been on MTV and on Advanced Warning, was that something that you guys wanted or something that just sort of happened?

It was actually put together with our management and with our label. We shot the video actually for free, a girl named Liz out in LA she was graduating from film and art school out there and she was a friend of our management and she had to film one more video and she heard our band and she did it for free for us. We had no idea what was going to come out of it. And our management was friends with the person who puts together Advanced Warning and our label is always working for us and they had good connections as well so it wasn’t planned at first but once it happened we were super excited and grateful.

Do you have any plans for a European tour?

Not yet. We’re here all year long. But I think we’re going to Greece next summer so we might do a European tour around that but it’s up in the air right now. As far as I know we only have touring plans until December.

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