If someone was to ask you if you could remember what you were doing on this day 10 years ago, what do you think you would say? No doubt if you were to ask Mae vocalist Dave Elkins, he’d tell you that he was hard at work on the band’s album, ‘The Everglow’, which dropped in March 2005. Now, the Virginia Beach stalwarts are touring in celebration of the record that changed their career. Elkins took the time to chat to Killyourstereo.com about it all.
At the moment, you guys are touring in celebration of the tenth anniversary of your record, ‘The Everglow’. What’s it like now to look back on that ten years after it initially came out?
It makes me feel freaking old. (laughs) I was 22 when we made that record, and I’m 32 now. It also makes me feel incredibly grateful. I mean the fact that I got to write a record with my friends ten years ago, and people are buying tickets to shows where we’ll perform that record from start to finish ten years later – That’s unbelievable to me.
When I was just making that record with my friends, I certainly didn’t think, ‘you know, ten years from now, this is gonna mean anything’. I didn’t even think ‘ten months from now’ back then. So to look back on what that record did for Mae, and what that record did for me, makes me feel incredibly grateful. I live in Nashville now, I’ve got a studio, I do some production work, I do some solo stuff in my spare time, and I live within the world of the music industry, owing a lot of that to what happened around that record.
I’m honestly just really grateful. It’s a very reflective time now, and we just have a lot of gratitude. It’s all pretty amazing.
A lot of things happen in 10 years, and especially for Mae, a lot of things have changed. Do the songs still hold the same meaning to you now as they did when you released them in 2005?
That’s a great question. I think that in some ways they do. Some of them were definitely written specifically. Some of these songs, like ‘Suspension’, and ‘Someone Else’s Arms’, we’ve made a staple and they’ve been in every set that we’ve played over the last ten years. Some of these songs we’ve literally played hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times.
We’ve been more or less on a break for quite some time now, so maybe playing these songs again I’m gonna learn something new about them. Maybe I’ll change a lyric because there’s something new, or maybe we’ll playing it a bit differently because we’ve got that much more experience under our belts as musicians.
Realistically, we’re gonna spend a lot of time playing and rehearsing these songs over and over throughout this year and on this tour, so I guess I’ll probably have a better answer for you at the end of this year once we’ve done all of that. (laughs)
You’re obviously much older and of a different mindset now than you were ten years ago. Do you think if you were recording ‘The Everglow’ again now it would sound all that different?
Every time anything gets recorded, it can be approached with a different perspective. The way that I wrote stuff and put music together when I was 21 and 22 is quite drastically different to how I do it now. You know, life experiences and learning new things, and changing the way that I play guitar or track vocals has made the way that I approach music so different to what it was back then.
People have asked us, ‘why don’t you do like, an acoustic version of the album?’ or something like that, and I don’t really wanna spend much time doing anything but celebrating the album, [than] wondering what we could do differently. Honestly, myself and I think everyone else in the band is just keen to write new music, so if anything, maybe ‘The Everglow’ shows will be a good catalyst for us to hit the studio and write and record some new ideas.
Maybe we can take some of the things that we could change in ‘The Everglow’ and use that as a launching pad for a song for Mae in 2015 or 2016, you know? We have been in the studio three different times in the last year, and I’m really excited now about what the future of Mae looks like and sounds like.
The whole ‘playing an album in full’ idea seems to be building a lot of steam in the past half a decade or so. If my memory is correct, you’ve done a few shows in the past for ‘The Everglow’ and ‘Destination: Beautiful’ where you played them from start to finish. What do you feel this adds to a show?
Stress. It adds a lot of stress. (laughs). When you put songs together for an album, you play them one at a time, and then you sequence them that way. When you’re playing live and we’ve gotta go from ‘Someone Elses Arms’ into ‘Suspension’, we’ve gotta change our tuning or change our guitars because there’s different keys going on there, so it’s gonna take a minute, and that’s gonna be a little stressful. That’s why we needed to put about 100 hours of rehearsing in before we started the tour, because we really need to plan out how we’re gonna do this stuff and create an event that we and people are going to really enjoy.
We’ve always been a sort of conceptual band, and so it makes sense to me that we should play ‘The Everglow’ from start to finish. I think over the course of 2015, we’ll probably play this album at least about 50 or 60 times, so with that being said, I think that we’ll hit our stride pretty quickly. I really love the other moments that surround it as well though, like, whatever we’re gonna play after the record, or maybe we could play a few different songs before we start playing the record, you know? If people want an encore, obviously we’ll be playing something else. We’re doing VIP acoustic shows beforehand, and we don’t wanna play the same songs twice for our audience, so if you come to one of those, we won’t play any songs that are getting played that night.
We’re gonna have about 40 songs under our belt to play in any circumstances, and so I guess to bring things back to your original question, it’s quite stressful. Not in a bad way, but more just ‘we’ve got a lot of work to do here’.
You guys are bringing ‘The Everglow’ tour down to Australia. This will be your first visit since you played Soundwave in 2008. How are you feeling about being back here?
Oh man, personally, and selfishly, I am the one who brought up Australia. Like you said, we were down in Australia for Soundwave in 2008, and I got to have my 26th birthday down there, and obviously February is part of your Summer down there so we’ve got amazing weather and it was such a great experience. That was the only time I’ve ever been to Australia.
Rob and Mark were not in Mae when we went down there, so they’ve never been, and I’ve wanted to go back to Australia since the day we got on the plane and headed back to the states back in 2006. So I’m really pumped to get back to your country, and I know everybody else is too, but I just had such a great time and a great connection with the people down there and the bands we played with, and it was just one of those moments that I’ve been wanting to repeat for seven years, and it’s happening in a couple of months. I’m really gratefull and I’m really pumped for it, and it’s a dream come true to be coming back down.
Obviously this tour’s gonna be very different to Soundwave, since you’re playing your own headline shows in clubs rather than playing festivals. What’s your take on the whole ‘club shows vs festivals’ argument?
I like club shows. I like small venues when you can look people in the eyes and connect with them and know that they’re there to see you. At a festival, people might be right there, but they might be there for the band before you, or the band after you, or just to pass the time, so it becomes your mission to make them a fan whether they are already or not. Every time you get on stage it’s about self expression and performing these songs, so when it’s in a club, you know that the people there will get behind you especially if you’re the headliner.
We’ve never been able to get down and personal with our fans in Australia. We did play some club shows with The Starting Line, I think Motion City Soundtrack, and Cartel on that run, but this is our first time ever headlining and playing shows on our own terms in Australia. I’m pumped. I always love club shows, and I’ve only been to a handful of festivals as a spectator in my life, and I definitely love the club shows instead.
On the other end of that, is it at all nerve wracking knowing that as the headliner it’s primarily your responsibility to bring in numbers to these shows, rather than if you were supporting or playing on a festival?
We’ve gone through the years and eras of managing ourselves and worrying about all of that, and I just look at it now like, ‘we’re playing music with each other, and we’re travelling the world to do it’, and honestly, it’d be nice if all of those shows were sold out, but if it’s not, it’s not gonna change the story, which is ‘I went to Australia to play to people who care about my music’, so there’s not too much pressure, really. It’s gonna be amazing, no matter what happens.
Mae perform this March as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Everglow Australian Tour with special guests Nova and the Experience.