an optimist on planet suck: aaron maine of porches takes us into the cosmos
Enter the world of Porches, a musical journey through New York City's streets, following a restless protagonist called Ronald Paris. Front man Aaron Maine wrote Slow Dance in the Cosmos, the band’s debut album, during his transition to the city.
The 4-piece experimental pop project is led by Maine's crooning vocals. "She is skinny like the trees. / The air looks good around her body. / And I'm a New York City slug," sings Maine. The story is sad, but triumphant, leaving listeners smack dab in the middle of "the cosmos." As Porches' US tour reaches its end and they prepare for a new album, i-D meets up with Maine to discuss Ronald Paris, what it's like to be in a band with your girlfriend (Greta Kline of both Porches and Frankie Cosmos), and the magic of the city.
New York plays a big role in your music. How is it coming back from tour?
It's exciting. I've lived in New York for two and a half years, and I've become totally obsessed with it. I'm excited that the next record will all have been written while living in the city.
How has the city affected your sound?
It's definitely changed the sound, and I guess the content too, because I'm in a different place. I've just been experimenting with like, not using the rock band setting. Especially living in an apartment now, where I can't make as much noise as I used to be able to. I'm not sure if the next album is gonna be so electronic, though.
What's the difference between Ronald Paris and Aaron Maine?
Porches has been a band for 4 years or so and it's gone through so many different phases that it felt necessary. I needed something to mark a different chapter. Just mentally, so that I could separate myself from what Porches was and what it feels like it is now. Also it's an outlet to put out solo stuff that might not necessarily fit under the Porches.
What do you feel misunderstood about?
That's a good one. I feel like for a minute this term "bummer pop" was thrown around a lot, and I was really against that. It's hard to stand outside of your songs and really assess them like other people would, but I've always felt like even though my songs may be about a sad subject or some sort of emotional pain, I like to think of them as victorious just in the sense that you're explaining that or acknowledging it and turning that pain into a piece of art.
Is it tough being in a relationship while doing all of this?
I don't think so. It's only overwhelming in the sense that instead of being in one active band, we're both in two. We've never argued about like, which show we should play. It's usually pretty clear which one is a better opportunity. It's exciting to live with Greta and write songs with her in the same house, you know? It's inspiring to live with someone as prolific and talented. It forces me to stay on my shit.
Do you guys compete?
Yeah, it's healthy, but if she writes a song I'm like, "Damn, now I have to come up with a really good song." I'll be sitting at the computer for three days slaving over, you know, a verse or something and then I'll take my headphones off and Greta's like, "Oh, I just wrote these three songs" and she'll play them and they will all be incredible. We have different approaches so I think we benefit and take cues from each other.
How do you feel about the DIY scene in New York?
I'm just kind of fascinated by it. I don't really know anyone in it besides Ethan of Terrible Records now. So I listen to a lot of those records, I'm just a fan-boy.
It's cool that you consider yourself a fan-boy.
It is cool! I feel like people try to hide that but it's important to acknowledge who you're inspired by and tell them that if you have the chance. I just sent Ethan every demo I made for the past year until he was like let's talk about this, let's do a record.
What about fashion?
I wish I knew more about fashion!
Do you experiment with your look for the band?
Yeah, I'm trying to. I feel like we have some time before the next record to really mold what I feel like Ronald Paris should look like. I just bought this Schott Perfecto leather jacket. So that's my newest accessory. It's my first leather jacket, you put it on and you assume a whole new personality.
What's next for Porches?
Were going to start recording the full-length soon. It seems really scattered in my head right now, what I want it to sound like and how the songs are gonna turn out. We have the songs, though, so that's good. There's not much more writing to be done. Even though I always try to get like one more super song. But yeah, it actually feels like now I'm at the point where my pile of songs is a bit overwhelming and I need to close that chapter before I can think fresh again.
Text Francisca Magis
Photography Brayden Olson