One of the best and well-crafted albums of 2017 so far dropped this April by one of our Cliché favorites, The Maine. Lovely Little Lonely, The Maine’s sixth full-length album, is infused with beautiful melodies and heart-stretching lyrics to follow. As if the album wasn’t good enough, the lovely five-piece band embarked on their headlining world tour this spring. We sat down with guitarist Jared Monaco to discuss the new record, the recording process, the Lovely Little Lonely Tour, and everything that makes it what it is.
Cliché: Can you elaborate on the writing process of Lovely Little Lonely? What was the inspiration behind your favorite lyrics on this record?
Jared Monaco: Over the years, our band has certainly gone through many changes, but one thing that remains the same is our process for writing songs. The only difference this time was the quality of our demos. We spent more time mapping everything out, and by the time we got to the studio, we had full skeletons for every single song. Usually we aren’t quite that prepared. I don’t write lyrics, so for me it’s hard to pick a specific line on the album. I really like the way “The Sound of Reverie” turned out.
What are some challenges you faced while making Lovely Little Lonely and what did you learn from them?
For this record, we rented a house in northern California, so we had to pack our entire studio into a box truck to move all the gear. The house was about three hours from the nearest music store, so we were really hoping everything arrived in one piece and turned on. Luckily, it was mostly fine, but the hard part was definitely turning a vacation house into a professional studio space. In the end, it was well worth it, but it took some creativity to get everything sounding the way we wanted it to.
How did this record stretch you guys individually and collectively?
For me, the goal was to have every single guitar track be absolutely necessary. I didn’t want to overdub things just because I could. The hardest part was to not overthink things. I’m a perfectionist so it’s hard for me to just step back and say, “Okay, it’s good. Move on.” For John, he wrote most of the vocal melodies without lyrics so it was certainly a battle trying to fit the right words to the melodies. In the end, it all came together, but there were certainly some days spent banging our heads on the wall.
How is this record different from any of your other records and how is it similar?
LLL has a very specific mood to it. I think that is one of the benefits of setting up a studio in a new place. We were taking in all of our surroundings and using them to augment the music we were making. The record flows from front to back, with tracks connecting to tracks and certain undertones carrying over. It’s the first time we took a step back and thought about how everything fits together as a whole. It’s similar to previous albums in the sense that we wrote it ourselves the way we write anything else. I think long-time fans will be able to hear our entire discography in some way through these songs.
What was it like for you guys when you heard the final songs for the first time?
That was a pretty big moment because when we finished recording in California, the vocals still weren’t finished. John had to fly out to Nashville to finish them so we were all at home waiting to hear the first rough mixes with vocals on them. The first time we heard them, we were all together at our manager Tim’s house. I was blown away. I have always trusted John and I think that’s why we work so well together, but after seeing him frustrated before Nashville, I was uncertain about which direction he was going to take the songs. I felt relieved, proud, and immediately optimistic when I heard the final mixes.
If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be and why?
To be honest, for doing everything ourselves and seeing the results we did, I don’t have any regrets on this album. There was one song that didn’t make the album, but we didn’t cut it until pretty late in the process. I guess I wish we would have thrown it out sooner. Still, things happened how they did, and I’m happy with where we are now.
Visually, we have created quite a stage scene and I feel that it represents the mood of the new album quite well.
After creating music for so long, how do you keep a fresh mindset and attitude going into recording a new record?
Like I said, we have been using the idea of scenery to influence our mindset, so having something like AirBnB to find an amazing house to record in certainly helps. We were on the side of a cliff looking out at the Pacific Ocean every day. If you can’t feel fresh waking up to that every day, you’re probably doing something wrong.
How are you feeling about the LLL Tour?
So far, things have been amazing. Visually, we have created quite a stage scene and I feel that it represents the mood of the new album quite well.
We will be touring as much as possible this year. We’re just getting started, and like every other album we have released, the mantra is that we can sleep when we’re dead. Even though we plan on working as hard as possible, it’s important to take time to look back and see how far we have come. That kind of reflection usually happens after a really great show.
What has come out of that time of reflection?
We’ve been a band for over 10 years now. In that time, we have met so many amazing friends and fans and seen so many incredible places. To be here in 2017 releasing our sixth full length record is sometimes unbelievable. We wouldn’t have any of this if it weren’t for those who care so deeply about the music we are releasing. For that, we are eternally grateful.
What do you hope this album conveys for listeners?
I want listeners to attach their own meaning to these songs, but for me, it’s a nod to how sometimes being alone can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a beautiful thing, too.
The Maine talks ‘Lovely Little Lonely’ Album and Tour, Written and Photographed by Imani Givertz