The group’s eighth studio album is here, marking their most meaningful chapter yet.
If there’s one thing The Maine has done well as a band since their debut in 2007, it’s having found their niche. The Tempe, Arizona, natives have been at the forefront of the pop-rock scene for more than a decade. While many of their peers from the aughts retreated from the spotlight, The Maine boasts admirable longevity — not to mention musical evolution. So, it begs the question, “What’s the secret?” While the band is as humble as they are prolific, vocalist John O'Callaghan admits there’s one important factor that’s given them staying power. As they release their eighth studio album, XOXO: From Love & Anxiety In Real Time, on July 9, The Maine reflects on how this record is different from anything they’ve done before, and how they’ve managed to stay fresh after so long.
In their nearly 15-year tenure as a band, The Maine has scooped up countless awards in their genre, including the iconic Power Of Music Award at the 2017 Rock Sound Awards and numerous AP Magazine awards. They’ve released seven albums to date, continuously reinventing their sound, and have received critical acclaim with each new chapter. The Maine introduced fans to their latest album with the lead single “Sticky,” an upbeat anthem that practically oozes sunshine. The follow-up single, a down-beat love ballad that recounts the evolution of love called “April 7th,” proves just how dynamic the album is. O’Callaghan tells Elite Daily that the record is an emotion-driven one that holds a special place in his heart.
“Inevitably, whatever I’m going through ends up creeping into whatever I’m writing about,” O’Callaghan says. “For so long, I wrote about love as an abstraction. I was writing about my perception of love never having really truly been in love.” After his wedding to Meghan Harder in October 2020, his songwriting process changed: “For the last two records, it’s been nice to actually experience those feelings for once and to truly express how I feel about them. [Our last record,] You Are OK, and this record are the first times I could actually sing about those things.”
The Maine has managed to consistently capture fans’ hearts through all their seasons, no matter how different each consecutive album has been. It’s their camaraderie, O’Callaghan says, that really contributes to their sustained success.
“I always say the biggest thing is that we still enjoy each other’s company,” O’Callaghan says. “I know that sounds very elementary to say, but it’s a huge factor ... We’re all still willing. We’re all still in it for us.”
Another thing that sets XOXO apart from the band’s previous records? It was entirely self-produced. The band hunkered down in a home studio during the coronavirus pandemic to record the intimate 10-song record.
“The one huge thing that stands out, not even on purpose, was we haven’t really touched on the idea we produced this record ourselves. I think because we didn’t really have time to think about it too much or fret about it because we had to turn around this record really quickly with the uncertainty that was in the air, and still is, as far as our job was concerned,” O’Callaghan explains.
The album is undeniably propelled by emotion. In fact, there’s one song in particular that is bound to leave fans who attend the band’s upcoming tour (that kicks off in August) weeping.
“The closer on the album, [“Face Towards The Sun”], is really a special one for me. I wrote it about my grandmother’s passing,” O’Callaghan says. “She passed away right at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was really, for lack of a better way to describe it, was fu*ked up," he says about the heartbreak that came with being forced to have a pared-down funeral amid the pandemic.
The overall theme of XOXO and the trajectory of The Maine’s discography is about navigating the peaks, valleys, and unexpected moments in life. After 15 years as a band, they clearly do it successfully. “I just feel like that’s part of being alive... being vulnerable enough to share with people,” O’Callaghan says.