Interview: Pat Kirch and Garrett Nickelsen of The Maine

The Maine

Recently, I was able to catch up with Pat (drums) and Garrett (bass), of The Maine, before they played a show at The Fillmore Silver Spring. In this interview, I asked the band about their range of emotions with putting together the Sweet 16th Anniversary Tour, how they’d rank their albums in their discography, the status of several key vinyl reissues, and some fun facts about each of the band members.

Thank you so much for your time today, fellas. How did the idea come together for the Sweet 16th Anniversary Tour?

Pat: Well when we booked the tour, or had the idea of doing a headlining tour, I was trying to think of what to call it. And then I was like, “Oh, we’ve been a band for 16 years!”

Congratulations on that achievement as well!

Pat: So then we kind of decided, oh, wow, let’s not just do a regular tour, let’s build this whole thing or around it, and kind of tailor the setlist to that. So yeah, it just kind of happened to work out that it was 16 years when we were doing this tour.

So what have been some of the highlights for both you Garrett, and you Pat, for the shows thus far?

Garrett: I mean, they’ve been crazy! It’s our biggest headlining tour we’ve ever done. So, every show has been pretty wild. I mean, there’s spots that we’ve played a bunch of times that haven’t ever sold out shows or anything. And things are going really well, and we’re also playing a few new songs. Normally, it takes a second for stuff to get like maybe six months or so to get people that are familiar with it, but our new stuff has been going really well. So I think that’s probably the biggest highlight is that it seems like people like the new shit and still like the old stuff, too.

And I saw some of the setlists on and it looks like you guys are playing for about two hours each night, roughly? 

Pat: It’s a little more than an hour and a half. Yeah, it’s 26 songs.

Plus some fan voting, I think, too?

Garrett: Yeah, it switches, and it keeps us on our toes, which is always good. When you’re this far into it, it’s like, you can kind of get into the routine. But to be able to switch it up is always nice.

Did you guys have to re-learn any songs in your discography for the set? 

Pat: Yeah, tons. I mean, “Saving Grace” was one. And I mean, that one hasn’t been played in a decade. So yeah, we had to kind of re-learn them. But the old stuff kind of comes back fast. The hardest thing is playing the newest album for the first time. Until you’ve done it a couple time…

Garrett: if somebody ever had a recording of our first couple times playing the new songs at band practices, they would be like, you’re not allowed to be a band…pretty embarrassing <Laughter>. 

<Laughter> Okay, so your band released one of my favorite albums that came out this year. It’s a self-titled effort, which is also your ninth full length studio album, which is a pretty amazing achievement in its own right. What songs from the new record are translating well to the live setting?

Pat: Yeah, I mean, I’ll definitely say “blame” is nuts playing. It goes off. And that’s probably because it’s been out the longest, too.

Garrett: They all have their moments. “Thoughts I have…” is being played for the first time on this tour. I was like that’s one where it’s gonna take a second <for the crowd to connect>. And then, out of the gate, it was just people singing right away. “dose no. 2” is on the record we’re playing and that one’s just really fun. When we first practiced it and first started getting it together. We’re like, I don’t think we can play this song. It’s almost like a “math rock” song… 

Yeah, with the tempo changes and you have to be really careful about the intro…

Pat: Yeah, like, it went from being like, I don’t know if we can play this too. Now, it’s like my favorite <part of the set>.

Yeah, so don’t mess it up tonight! <Laughter> Wishing nothing but the best for you guys, obviously…The Maine have been no stranger to pushing the envelope of the last songs of each record. So, I have to ask, how did that hook of, “I’m all fucked up on you” come together for “spiraling”? Whose idea was that?

Pat: Some of that John had. I think he was like writing it not intending it to be for The Maine, but just kind of writing it. I guess he was thinking of giving it to a different artist, or something?

Garrett: The original demo he had pitched his vocals out, really low. So, it didn’t really sound like him. And we were going over demos and Jared was like, “What the fuck is that?!?” And John said, “Oh, I don’t know, it was just a song.” And then we were like, “well, could we do this?” Pat had the idea of putting it as the last track, and that kind of gave us the freedom to not be afraid of it. I think if it was track three, it’d just feel weird. But because we put it at the end, and we’ve done kind of different things at the end of every album, it was like, let it be what it actually wanted to be, rather than sort of making it try to fit into something that it wasn’t supposed to be. So yeah, it was an interesting take on it, and a different way to end this record. 

That makes sense in the sequencing too, because like you said, you can pretty much do whatever you want on the last track, because you’ve kinda already done that <on other records>. People expect you to push the envelope, so I guess that was kind of intentional?

Garrett: Yeah, it kind of feels as if the record is kind of like a weird party. At the end of the party you’re probably a little fucked up. You feel a little dizzy…

So with each album’s cover art, down to the liner notes, have a certain aesthetic and feel to them. I love how you put those giant books in the vinyl too. I’m a big fan of that. How much say do you get in the final product?

Pat: 100%. Yeah, for this record, the black and white thing, it’s just something that I guess we haven’t really ever done, to that degree.

Garrett: Yeah, definitely to that extent. And it just kind of felt fun to put ourselves in a box. And then you have to be more creative, so that everything doesn’t feel the exact same. Yeah, I think it was like, while we’re in the studio, the last couple of weeks, I kind of told everyone that I had this idea of disco balls and whatever. And I saw it out there. And then we went with it. And it kind of fit too. It was like the early 2000’s indie rock shows. We listened to a lot of that stuff, and kind of felt like that aesthetic was fitting in that whole thing.

Yeah, definitely. Are there any bands that come to mind that were influential in either the artwork or the sound?

Garrett: We listened to Bloc Party a lot. I don’t know how much of it actually got into this stuff. But maybe on “dose no. 2”? 

Pat: I mean, also the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The White Stripes, kind of? Yeah, that kind of stuff for the aesthetic. Which is like the kind of things we’ve pulled from the past for different stuff to like, on Pioneer. And we did everything in red. We’d decorate the stage like that. Just trying to take things from different <stuff> that we love and put our own little twist on. 

Yeah, and the music videos have all turned out great with that same type of aesthetic. Also, I understand you recently signed a partnership with Photo Finish Records. Is there anything you can share about upcoming vinyl reissues? 

Pat: Well, I think now, every record is out there except for Black & White. And that’s been the hardest one to do. Where if we’re gonna make <vinyl> records, we want to own it. So that’s been a battle. There’s been lots of people that have come along and tried to print it. And we’ve kind of put an end to that each time. So we’re waiting to be able to buy the rights to it and make it on our own terms. But we don’t know anybody that works with Warner and likes the album, or our band at all. So yeah, I don’t know why we would give our fans something that we didn’t get to make and give money to a label…

Are there any restrictions on doing the “Taylor’s Version” of The Maine? 

Garrett: Now we’re in the clear for doing it. There was a 10 year period where we couldn’t do that. Now we can. We’ve talked about it. And we kind of announced that we’re gonna be working on it. It’s just a matter of finding the time to finish it.

But it also sounds like trying to get your head back into that sort of time period might be tricky?

Pat: Yeah, the hardest thing is anytime we have extra time, we just work on new stuff. Like tomorrow we’re going into the studio in Tennessee to record some new stuff. So it’s like, that would be the day that we’d have to work on that. But we’d rather work on something new. So if people get upset that they’re expecting it, it’ll come. It just might be longer than what we originally said.

That’s cool. I know people were kind of hoping for a Lovely Little Lonely reissue and for American Candy. Mostly, my CEO…

Pat: Yeah, with American Candy. The 10 year anniversary is coming next year. Oh, actually 2025. So I would imagine then we’ll do something around that time.

Sounds good! A lot of our readers at have a lot of fun with ranking our top albums for pretty much every band out there. Do you think you could collectively as a band have the same favorites? Or at least a consensus top three or five?

Pat: The only way I think that I would consider thinking about this would be you have to get rid of the new record. Because I haven’t had enough time to absorb it. Like, it is my favorite right now. Maybe that won’t be the case in a year, or so, but maybe it will be. So getting rid of that just to get rid of any biases.

And I know it’s kind of like picking a favorite child too…

Pat: But I mean, the Top Three are pretty easy. I mean, Lovely Little Lonely, Pioneer, and American Candy.

I think Jason would approve of that, too since that would probably be my order, too. Now that you are currently celebrating 16 years of being in a band, what keeps each of you creatively motivated? And what mediums do you use, outside of music, to invigorate your writing styles?

Garrett: I think we’re just at least…you’ll hear a record you’ve never heard before, and say, “shit, that’s possible?”  Something that gets you excited about it. And you’re like, “How can I kind of bring that into what this is?” We’ve done so much different shit that I kind of feel like we can do whatever. And a good chunk of people would be like, “Okay, that’s not that weird…”

Pat: Yeah, I think we get inspired by things that we don’t even…I don’t know, some random hip hop song that I would never sit down and listen to on my own, but you just hear a thing that they did. And it’s like, that’s cool. That is just a cool idea. Like, I wouldn’t think to do that! I think just furthering the trajectory of our band and wanting the next album to be better than the last one. I think that’s really all that you need. We don’t really need to search for motivation. We’re all excited to just make music, and it’s also that weird thing where we’ve now put out more records than some of my favorite bands.

Yeah, it’s about every two years for you guys!

Garrett: And it’s just weird seeing some of your favorite bands, if they got this far, it’s not likely that the latest one was their best one.  And the fact that your favorite record is this one too, that’s really cool. So we’re still just trying to be good.

Yeah, and a lot of fans are growing with you at the same time. It’s a strong testament to what you guys are doing…

Pat: So passively, we just really care and appreciate that we get to do it. But it makes us want to work harder to be better at it.

Garrett: It kind of feels like we’re getting into uncharted territory. We’re almost 10 albums. Not many people do that. Could we be the first band that I’ve heard of that their tenth album’s their best album? That would be awesome!

So I was gonna ask, besides the five members of the band, do you have a trusted inner circle that you get feedback from?

Garrett: Colby Wedgeworth. He’s produced a good chunk of our stuff. He did Pioneer. He mixed Forever Halloween. He did American Candy with us. He wrote some shit with us on XOXO. Oh, and then he produced this one. So yeah, music-wise, he’s like this guiding star for us where he’ll let us do something crazy. But he’s also like, ok, now reel it in. Also, our manager Tim Kirch. Those two have definitely helped guide this thing in a way that other people really haven’t been able to do. 

Nice! That’s a great, trusted circle. So what’s one thing about each band member that fans would be surprised to know about them that maybe you haven’t said in other interviews?

Garrett: Pat loves to lie. Wait, is that a lie?

Pat: That is the thing…Garrett is the biggest liar. 

Is he good at it?

Pat: Oh, yeah!

Garrett: Okay, so we kind of like to play a game where it’s like making up something crazy. And making up something that’s kind of believable but doesn’t cross a line kind of thing. Well, it kind of started during the Warped Tour. So we’re on the Warped Tour and waiting in line for catering. It can take like an hour. And it’s crazy for bands. So I’m walking on the bus and I told them that Kevin Lyman just walked by and handed me a “cut the line pass” for catering. He said it was, “because we were working really hard. He appreciated us! So, I got cut the line passes for lunch.” And everyone’s like, “No fucking way!” <Laughter>

Pat: Next, it’s gonna be Tony Hawk who will meet us…

Or, Dave Grohl is gonna show up in DC tonight! <Laughter> 

Garrett: Yeah, and just like things that are believable and are not gonna hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s just like, why the fuck would you do that? I don’t know why. It’s just funny. Jared is a computer genius…

Oh, I ran into him before your last 9:30 Club show. I have a very good track record of meeting the band before a concert. For example, Silverstein was at the bar just the other night here, across the street.

Garrett: That’s funny! With Kennedy, I think people would be surprised by how forgetful a person he is.

Does he know there’s a show tonight? <Laughter>

Garrett: Yeah, I’ve had to tell him that so he would know. Pretty much every time we work, like me and my girlfriend, I have one car so he’ll take me home because he lives near me. And almost every single time I have to tell him how to get somebody’s house. He’s very forgetful.

Pat: He always forgets to charge his phone.

Garrett: And I don’t think it’s from the weed. I think it’s just him…Oh, and John really likes watching people play video games.

Uh, like on Twitch? I know the dude from Yellowcard, William Ryan Key, does streams on Twitch. 

Garrett: Yeah, he doesn’t do it himself. He just watches other people. Like I’ll look over and he’s watching someone playing Call of Duty…

That’s what my kids do. They would rather watch on YouTube somebody playing with the toys, than actually play with the damn toys themselves! 

Garrett: And Pat is a secret genius. It’s probably not even much of a secret. Every cool idea we have is pretty much his! I shouldn’t have told him…

Welp, it’s “on the record” now! So the last question I have for you is, at some point in every band’s career,  they feel the need to either slow down after the constant grind of writing, recording, touring for a bit then repeating that cycle. The Maine has put out new material consistently almost every two years, and I’m not trying to jinx anything, of course! But what is in store for 2024/2025?

Garrett: To be accidentally full again. We keep saying how can we find some time to not do as much and also do this opportunity? If Fall Out Boy is calling…yeah, we’ll go out.

Yeah, you don’t let that call go to voicemail… <Laughter>

Garrett: Yeah, when I think about what other bands were doing this far into their career, and other bands that I like, I just don’t feel like we’re at that point yet <of slowing down>. I still feel like we’re on album three or four. And we still are at the peak of our creativity and we want to be out there and put on better shows and stuff. We’re definitely not in a coasting phase where it’s like we can just go out and you don’t have to think as much or be rehearsing as much. It’s definitely not that at all.

Yeah, I’m so glad that you guys are at that point where you’re still pushing yourselves creatively. It’s a sign of a band that’s gonna want to keep going. Also, don’t you have a day off tomorrow from touring? 

Pat: So we’re going to record, so that doesn’t count as a day off for us. 

Garrett: It’s going to be in Nashville.

Well, best of luck to you guys, and thanks again for the interview. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Garrett/Pat: Yeah, of course. Thanks for doing it!