Aaron Maine, the creative driving force behind the synth-pop band Porches, likes routine. He describes his days as solid music making, punctuated by regular visits to his favorite greasy spoon New York diner. Meals are usually eaten alone; by the moment he realizes he’s hungry, there’s typically not time to call a friend. He’s a creature of habit, who likes the idea of travel, but since it’s been almost six years since his last vacation, he’s okay with keeping geographical movement tied to his upcoming tour, and has even discovered the joys of recording on the road. But ahead of the release of his forth studio album, Ricky Music—which comes out Friday, March 13, 2020—he deeply considered a dramatic switch-up.
“I was about to change the whole name and ditch Porches and start going by Ricky Music,” Maine tells CR MEN. “So, I wrote a lot of these songs with that in mind. After six or seven months of being hell-bent on that idea, the label was like, ‘are you sure you want to do that?’ I’m the only person who has to come to terms with what Porches means. If I was to put something out as Ricky Music, the only thing people would say is, ‘Why isn’t this Porches?’ So, I decided to own it. It’s part of a long body of work to be responsible for. I’ve come this far; I should keep going with it.”
While band names are ultimately arbitrary (Maine points out the absurdity of Red Hot Chili Peppers as one example), it’s true that as time passes, titles become infused with meaning, both good and bad. As was the case when in 2018, while being interviewed, Maine’s love of makeup and feminine-presenting wardrobe choices was accidentally framed as an appropriation of queer culture. The magazine apologized and corrected the statement. However, Maine is still very uncomfortable with the misquote, and wants to make it clear that he’s not interested in taking or claiming something that’s not his.
“I think it was a wakeup call to be very considerate,” he says. “[I realized I needed to be] thoughtful and still experiment, and not let it make me quit music. Even though I kind of felt like it could…I felt like shutting up. And then I made these songs, and I kept growing, still. I wanted to make things better. I wanted it to feel like an offering with as much love as I could possibly inject in these songs. In the end, I creatively benefited from having to see the gravity of my words and my position and platform.”
Ricky Music is a melodic collection of songs, touched by disco, pop, and R&B. Maine’s flexible falsetto is joined by a series of guests that include indie favorites Zsela and Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. But its intentionally introspective touch, as he explores love, loss, and anxiety—often over the course of a single track—was inspired by the end of a two-year long romance.
“I was doe-eyed and out of touch with reality during the relationship,” Maine reveals. “I would write songs that were terrible. Never going to share those with anyone. It was good to have some time and space to work on it outside of being so involved with someone else. Trying to see the bigger picture of my life. Having room to breathe.”
That painful motivation led to one of the most prolific periods of Maine’s life. Although he’s got a sizable legion of unreleased songs, new tracks seemed to appear fully formed, including many that made the album’s final cut, written in the eleventh hour of the process, and inspired by exactly what he was going through in the moment.
“‘Hair’ is a breakup song,” he says. “It just popped out in two minutes. It’s kind of rare when that happens. I remember, I was going to meet a friend, and I thought, I’m just going to do this thing. I kept the original vocal take from that day. To just have this desperateness of something. To me that was the saddest thing. Wallowing in sadness. Not trying to make light of the situation. Just trying to be there.”
Maine admits songs can be driven by anything (as well as genre—in the past Porches has been called pop, country, and bedroom). But it was learning to get comfortable with himself, sadness and all, that informed much of Ricky Music’s tone. “You’ve gotta spend time in it, I think,” he says of learning to live with heartbreak and transition. “You don’t have to dig into it. I did try to not give it more energy than it already has. I didn’t drink for two months. Did yoga. And felt it all, as much as I could. With the hopes of speeding up the recovery period. Also, just being an adult, or trying to be one. Embrace it. Feel it. I don’t think I’ve mastered it in any way, but it was a new thing and it felt good.”
It was that refusal to hide from emotions, good and bad, that continues to inform Porches. Maine is ready to evolve—not quit. And if there’s more bumps in the road, he’s ready for them.
“I believe in a calling,” he laughs. “Maybe it’s my fate to make music forever, for better or for worse.”END
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