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“American Candy” is sugary and sweet with a good bite

Nine years, five studio-albums and well over twelve tours together, The Maine are still doing their favorite thing: making music with some of their best friends.

In the past few years, The Maine has been hard at work exercising their creative freedom and pushing the boundaries. Garrett Nickelsen, The Maine’s bassist, talked to The Retriever about their album “Pioneer” – the band’s first independently-released album – commenting that it was a big deal for the band. “I feel like we’re still trying to make the whole [unsigned] thing work. It’s been cool … We get to make the music we want to make. No one gets to tell us no.”

“American Candy,” The Maine’s most-recent album, was a huge success for the band, not only according to Nickelsen, but also the Billboard 200. The record, which Nickelsen describes as “sugary and sweet with a good bite,” takes on a different tone than their previous album, “Forever Halloween.”

“With ‘Forever Halloween’ … there was a stress around the record since we were doing it live, and that was a new experience for us,” Nickelsen said. “The newest [album] was fun. We rented a house in Joshua Tree – there were no other houses around us – and just got fired up to make music. You can’t really beat that. Knowing that, I think that’s the best way to make an album.”

The energy and all around good vibes that surrounded the creation of “American Candy” encapsulate every song on the record. As the track changes from one to the next, a smooth consistency is maintained that is not always present on pop-rock albums.

The Maine aims to connect to their fans, and “American Candy” is successful in making fans feel as though they are a part of a conversation with their friends. Listening to the record feels, inexplicably, like one is coming home after a long day. Years of experimenting with their sound has helped The Maine create an album that represents who they are. They have created music that is raw, real and riveting.

The band is well known for their devotion to their fans. In Fall 2015, The Maine went on a free tour – appropriately titled the Free For All Tour – where they were “playing outside malls one day, and one time, [even] played outside the Patriots stadium,” according to Nickelsen. “It was really, really cool — just a way to give back to our fans … there are people who have come to 100 shows.”

It’s opportunities like this that make The Maine thankful for being unsigned. The Free For All Tour was a “crazy idea that would’ve gotten shut down. It was bizarre — the strangest tour we’ve done,” Nickelsen said. “A record label would never let us do what we want. We don’t have someone tell us that ‘there’s not a single off this album.’ We get why some people like labels, but it’s just not right for us.”

Since January, The Maine was on tour with Mayday Parade in Europe. Now, the band has embarked on The American Lines Tour and will be performing at Baltimore Soundstage on March 16.

“I’m really excited to play,” said Nickelsen. “I know that sounds lame. But we’re playing some songs that we haven’t played in a while and switching up some tunes … We play noisy rock and roll — it’s fun and we’re nice and you can meet us after the show and we’ll say ‘hi!’”

The Maine really are as sweet as “American Candy.” Hopefully, the fact that they have been so successful while being honest and passionate will inspire other musicians to get real with their fans, too.