So in the past year I’ve had my share of Merriweather shows, and Merriweather interviews. Every single experience has been so different. This show, in particular was so far removed from my comfort zone, headlined by The Fray, piano driven rock that got suckered into being the theme song for every hospital drama for the last six months. Adult contemporary has never really been my cup of tea. The crowd was filled with twenty something's fresh from work, 8 dollar beers in both bands. “Mix” stations lined the vendor spots, and there was an ominous gray lingering in the sky.
Among the yuppies, I saw something a bit peculiar, a Brand New shirt. I believe we could thank the shows opener for such an occurrence. Mae, has the ability to sell out clubs, with a serious cult following. This band was the reason I was at the show. As that looming sky opened up and soaked me with water, I set out for my interview. Unfortunately for me the autograph line was still wrapping up to the field, with no end in site. Finally heading back to the catering room at Merriweather, it felt a lot different from the last time I sat on the wooden benches.
Mae has been constantly touring this past year, with several stops in Baltimore & DC. This time though, they’re playing arenas. In a few weeks it’ll be back to basics with As Tall As Lions. “The clubs we’re playing in a few weeks are some of the first clubs we started out in,” Jacob says, with a towel draped around his neck, as I begin the interview.
“Kicking asses everywhere. Jackie Chan in music form,” Jacob joked we should expect from their highly anticipated “Singularity.” Recently getting signed to big boys Capitol records, Jacob informed us that the president of the label was fired the day they finished mixing the new album, of course putting them on edge. Thankfully, they were not dropped. “It’s different,” he says talking about being signed to a major label.
“Alternative melodic rock… Melodic ass kicking rock… Alternative rock with a lot of attention to melody.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself, as Jacob tries to classify their sound.
Jacob let us know we should check out a new VA beach band called Invo, in addition to Invo check out “Pharrel, Missy Eliot, Timbaland. That’s the music that comes out of our area, we’re like the only rock band.
Me being a devoted to Wikipedia, I looked up Mae a bit before the interview, and found out what the bands name meant. It’s an acronym for Multi-sensory Aesthetic Experience, a theory created by Jacob, himself, in college. “I think it’s the ideal. It’s like the ultimate ambition. We’re all moved by music that we like, and that experience of being moved by something that you find to be beautiful, is your aesthetic response. It’s kind of the closest thing you get to a religious experience. That’s where the band came out of.”
People are drawn to Mae, it seems. The way fans talk about Mae is not comparable to many other modern bands. “I think we try to take a lot of time to be with the fans. The chance to connect somehow with the person that created the music. We just try to do whatever we can to make that barrier disappear. We’re not posting penis pictures on the internet… A lot of people write us, and so far there hasn’t been one I haven’t written back to.”
Of all the answers to a choice for a label, Jacob’s answer was one I never thought about. “This is something you can’t download. The experience of having a band you love play for you. The fact is the [music] industry is changing. Who knows if labels will even exist in a few years. So honestly, as silly as it sounds, to have the same logo on our record as a lot of bands that really impacted the evolution of music” was a huge part of their decision to sign to Capitol.
Right before my interview I was religiously on AP.net, and I noticed an ambiguous post about Mae. Mae was either going to tour or wanted to tour with Jimmy Eat World. Of course, I had to ask Jacob about this. Being huge Jimmy Eat World fans, they just threw it out there, that they want to tour with them hoping they’ll take the bait.
“Let’s make fans out of people who like music,” is what Mae says to justify their constant touring with bands that sound so different than them, it’s also a tactic to be remembered. It’s easier to remember a band if none of the other bands sounded like you.
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. We were born late seventies, early eighties, and there’s so much music out there to experience”
Mae is one of those bands that genuinely love music, that love their fans. There’s no ulterior motives, they’re not trying to get laid, or be famous. A love of music is all they need to hold them together. I had never really been into Mae, but the way Jacob talked about their music, and music in general made me want to go out and buy every album, just to see if I can get to that point where music becomes apart of you.
“We believe in what we’re doing and it’s not perfect and it’s not he best music that’s ever been created, but it’s what we want to do, and it’s what we believe in, and if other people are willing to go there with us then that’s like the ultimate acknowledgement that it’s paid off. [CO]