They’ve toured with the Vans Warped Tour, changed guitar players, recorded two CDs and a follow up B-sides album, and on Thursday, March 5th, the indie-rock band Mae finally visited the utopia that is Michigan State University.[group]
Named after the drummer’s undergraduate philosophical theories at Virginia’s Old Dominion University, Mae is actually an acronym for “Multisensory Aesthetic Experience.” Their melodic indie rock sound has been resonating throughout the American music circuit since 2001, with the abstract goal of demonstrating “what music would look or taste like,” said Jacob Marshall, the group’s drummer and one of the original founding members. This spring, the band is on a tour to promote their upcoming album Everglow to be released later this month.
“It’s the entire essence of what we wanted to accomplish,” Jacob explained when asked about Everglow before the band’s show at MSU’s Union Ballroom.
Dave Gimenez, the lead singer, and admittedly “the most obnoxious group member,” is flattered when Mae is frequently compared to bands like Jimmy Eat World, but thinks that fans will be impressed with the new sound of the upcoming CD, a follow-up to 2003’s Destination: Beautiful . “We sound a lot more like Slipknot,” he joked.
Putting together a second album has had unique challenges. “It’s not easy,” Dave said. “It takes a whole lot out of a band to write a record…it’s like the band is starting all over again.” As if they have any energy left, they are scheduled to tour nonstop until early June. But they agree that it’s almost every band’s goal to be on the road every day.
[concert] Playing shows across the nation has “made the country seem smaller” to Zach Gehring, the guitarist and “funniest band member,” in particular, but they all seem to take the changing scenery in stride. The only phenomena that they can’t seem to understand are the “guy stalkers” and the “Jersey girls who come to like 50 shows,” but laugh them off and agree that touring is the best part of being in a band.
But, choosing a particular memorable experience from their cross country travels in their van is nearly impossible for Dave. “Tour is like one big funny moment,” he said, adding that it’s easier to think of a humorous moment of the day, rather than from the whole tour. For instance, “Mark didn’t go to sleep last night. He sat in the lobby of the hotel and studied a bass theory book,” he said, laughing, referring to the group’s quiet blond bassist, who just shrugged and insisted that he doesn’t pull all-nighters to study musical theory every evening.
As they passed through the city, East Lansing reminded some of Mae’s members of their own college years before they exchanged higher education for a career in music. “Stay in school!” Dave joked. He dropped out of Old Dominion University after one-and-a-half years because he knew that his passions lay elsewhere. “I failed Computer Science 101, like where they teach you how to use a mouse, because it was at eight o’clock in the morning,” he said, adding that he couldn’t wake up early enough to make it on time. Ironically, now the band often has to be up and on the road at the same time that his computer class started.
Other than waking up early, one of the band’s biggest challenges thus far has been finding a niche and identity as a secular band linked to a label, Tooth and Nail Records, often associated with Christian artists. “At one time it was a Christian label, so people think that their bands are Christian bands,” Dave explained.
“We’re in the business of selling music, not Jesus,” Jacob said.
“It would be more sacrilegious to sell it,” Zach added.
“Tell all of your Jewish friends that,” Dave said, smiling.
[everyday] Information about Mae can still be found on Christian music Web sites, but the band concentrates more on its own musical growth than on misconceptions of its mission in the artistic world.
Everglow includes a lot of firsts for them, production-wise, and “was more of a band effort” than their debut Destination: Beautiful, according to Mark. Destination: Beautiful was actually produced in a shed behind a warehouse in Virginia.
“It could have been worse,” said Jacob, but the only positive that the band could come up with regarding this original “studio” was that there weren’t boxes of screwdrivers lying around their performance space. But this time around, they said that they welcomed the help and criticism of professional producers.
“I think we’ve all grown up a lot, just learning a lot about life as individuals,” said Dave, reflecting on the band’s humble beginnings in his hometown of Virginia Beach. “Probably two years from now we’ll have gained a whole lot, and there will be a whole lot more unanswered questions that we’ll have to sit down and try to figure out.”
As Jacob put it, “we’re opening a new chapter now.”

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