Garrett Nickelsen, The Maine‘s bassist, helped found the band alongside Patrick Kirch, with lead singer, John O’Callaghan joining shortly after. The band has enjoyed mass success following five studio albums, with their most recent “American Candy” released in March of this year.
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from Gilbert, Arizona with the Tonto National Park a short drive away, describe your hometown’s scenery?
Garrett Nickelsen: Well, Gilbert is kind of a weird place in Phoenix, because I guess you could call it a kind of newer part. I first moved here when I was four years old from Florida, and it was kind of the farm area of Phoenix, but it quickly turned to where all the families moved. In the past 15-years it turned into a more homey area. My parents still live there, but I moved downtown about two years ago. It’s cool; it’s a nice place to grow up — I enjoyed it.
SR: How about the rest of Phoenix, where would you tell a first-time visitor to go?
GN: Tempe is nice if you’re a late teenager to 21 [years old]. That’s where [Arizona State University] is on Mill Avenue. There is some real cool stuff around there. The Tempe town lake is really nice. It’s a lake in the middle of the desert, which is kind of crazy. I live downtown and there’s this cool scene that’s happening down here with a lot of the art kids. In the past five or six years it’s really become a cool, artsy place.
Photo courtesy | Jeff Turner
SR: Hipster in a sense?
GN: I guess you could call it that. There’s a lot of small, cool bars opening. There’s this venue called Crescent Ballroom — a really sweet spot where a lot of shows go to. They do this cool thing on the first Friday of every month called (ironically enough) “First Fridays”, where a lot of people bring out their art and bands play on the side of the street — a bunch of good food. A lot of new things are happening and it’s exciting to be a part of it — our management office is down here too.
SR: You’re about to kick off the American Candy Tour July 31st in Brazil, with stops in Chile, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. Will it be your first time visiting those destinations? What are you looking forward to seeing when you go?
GN: Actually, we’ve been lucky enough to go to all of those places before a few times, except Indonesia, we were there once. It was our first place we’d ever been to in Asia. That was crazy. I’m really excited to go back, it’s been five(ish) years. This will be our fourth or fifth time I think in Brazil — one of my favorite places. A lot of kids down there are totally insane.
It’s one of the only places in the world where you feel like, I hate to say rockstar, but people are meeting you at the airport and following you to your hotel. It’s really bizarre, because before that, we never really had anything that even sort of felt like that. We are really lucky to go and visit all these places, just for the fact of seeing them. I’m one of the only people that I know that’s been to Brazil five times. It’s weird going down there, feeling comfortable now and remembering places — feeling like a world traveler.
Photo courtesy | Christian Haugen
SR: Is there a site that stands out, or a city that you love in Brazil?
GN: Rio [de Janeiro] is always really fun. The venue we play at there is this indoor-outdoor dome. There are two levels, and the second level hangs over the stage a little bit — you totally feel like kids are surrounding you everywhere. Since it’s in the dome it’s so loud. That show is just insane every time. The beaches there are so beautiful — Rio is a really good time.
SR: How does music and travel fit together?
GN: It’s the only reason I get to travel. That’s a huge part of it. I’ll go on my Spotify and make playlists for certain times of the year. If it’s in the winter it’s more chill. When you look out the bus window or airplane, the music can make you feel a certain type of way. It’s kind of crazy when you’re listening to the Rolling Stones or something flying into Rio, it [embodies] what’s happening. Music can make you feel something while you’re traveling. They go hand-in-hand.
SR: It sets the mood or tone of the trip.
GN: Yeah, like when you’re driving at night and maybe listening to something more relaxed, with the stars above you.
SR: What does seeing and experiencing different cultures mean to you?
GN: It’s insane man; it makes you realize. When you’re not traveling you forget what’s happening on the other side of the world. You’re not thinking about what people are doing in the Philippines right now. Then you go there and are surrounded by it. Then you’re like, “Holy cow, this is so different!” But, it’s crazy how you can travel somewhere and meet someone that is totally like you. I don’t know how that happens.
I remember the first tour we ever went on was us in my dad’s suburban. We were driving across the United States for some shows on the east coast with this band called the Morning Light. We grew up on completely different sides of the United States, and we go there, meet them and they somehow listen to the same exact music as you — the same jokes. We had no connection to these people at all. You can go anywhere, Australia, and it’s the same thing.
SR: It shrinks the world and gives you a better perspective.
GN: Yeah, it totally does. It’s crazy.
SR: It’s part of our motivation for doing what we’re doing. We want to express that feeling of community and that we’re all just people really.
GN: Totally! It’s important man. A lot of people don’t think about it and it’s a bummer. Everyone is the same man; everyone’s trying to live a happy life and be good to each other. Most people are trying to be good people.
Photo courtesy | Moyan Brenn
SR: Everyone has a bucket list. What are three destinations on yours? Why?
GN: I really want to go to Japan, that would be insane. That’s one on our list that I feel we really need to get to. It’s weird, because I remember when I would watch bands when I was younger and it would just seem like everyone went to Japan. Everyone would drop their records and DVD’s and they’d have a whole big thing on Japan. It’s crazy we haven’t gone there yet. We really want to go there.
South Africa would be insane. I think there was one point when we were talking about being able to go down there, but that fell through. Definitely want to be the first band to play on the Moon too!
SR: I love that! We actually interviewed Doug Robb from Hoobastank and he said that Japan is unreal. The crowd is crazy and it’s just another level. Definitely a destination that stands out.
GN: Yeah, we’ve been talking about it for a long time now and it just hasn’t worked out, but hopefully soon we’ll be able to get over there. Been through the airport a couple of times
SR: I know you’re going to Brazil the end of July, but do you have a personal vacation coming up?
GN: Well we’ve been home for a little bit and my family took my brother, our girlfriends and I to Rocky Point, New Mexico. It’s kind of close to where we’re at, but it was nice. I had no phone service and just sat on the beach. Other than that, we’re going to start doing stuff here in a week, so my days of being off are coming to an end.
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For more on The Maine visit their website and new album:
Additional photos courtesy of Heather Anne Phillips.