UTG EXCLUSIVE: The Maine’s John O’Callaghan On Thriving By Way Of Passion And Diligence

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Unwavering in their attempts to pursue greater heights, Tempe, AZ alternative rock outfit The Maine have just put out American Candy, their most dynamic and sensational record to date. UTG had the pleasure of chatting with lead singer and lyricist John O’Callaghan. Below he tells us a story of how he came about doing what he loves most. He talks about the different instances throughout his life where music spoke to him and made him feel it was what he wanted to do.

“The past eight years of my life have been dedicated to the industry of music, yet as someone who comes from a non-musical family, one question remains unanswered: How did I get here?

In retrospect, there are a few ‘ah-ha!’ moments that not only sparked the passion for music, but inspired my wish to pursue it as a career. The first moment I can recall that really lit me up must have been around 1999 or so. I vividly remember being at a family gathering held at my aunt and uncle’s house where the usual scene was set. The adults drinking and conversing around the dinner table, a few mothers in the kitchen making coffee and gossiping, and my cousins and I in the bedroom getting up to no good. My oldest cousin shut the bedroom door and said he wanted to play us a real rock n’ roll record. It was at the age of 10 that I was introduced to Rage Against The Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles, and to this day I get the same image of us kids crowded around the boom box whenever I hear it come on. I think that instance explains why I’m always constantly searching for new music that pushes my palate and takes me to places I’ve yet to visit sonically.

The second ‘ah-ha!’ would come two years later on Christmas day in 2001. Though no one in my family (save for an uncle and cousin) played an instrument, my folks decided to take a chance and buy me my first guitar. Equipped with a Crate amp/guitar combo, I ran upstairs and made ‘noise’ for the rest of the day – prompting my mom to plead with me to give it a rest for the evening. Though I’m no talented guitarist by any stretch, it is only because of my parents that I still love to play today.

The final moment would strike several years later on a trip to Milwaukee with my father. It was 2006 and high school had come to an end. My dad, as a sort of graduation gift, decided to take me on a trip to experience my first ever music festival. Seeing Wilco perform at Summerfest in 2006 was the moment that I knew I wanted to truly give music a shot. Being relatively unfamiliar with their material, it was really just witnessing the effect they had on my father that convinced me to try out for a band in hopes that one day I could maybe have a similar effect on people.

These moments are simply memories that involved music, but after writing this reflection I have deduced that my involvement in music can greatly be attributed to the ongoing support my parents have shown me in every venture I’ve ever been a part of. I suppose luck and work ethic and maybe some sort of divine intervention have worked in my favor and allowed me, eight years later, to reflect back. I can truly say that this experience has taught me that you don’t have to be the son of a blacksmith to be one yourself.”

American Candy, which received a 9.5/10 in UTG’s most recent review, is officially out today. You can purchase a copy through 81twentythree or over at iTunes.

Written and conducted by Dana Reandelar
Feature photo by Dirk Mai

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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