Interview by Natalie Leonard
The first time I saw Mainland play was kind of by accident. I had gone with a friend to see Drowners play at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, and ended up going home that night and shamelessly watching every one of Mainland's videos that I could find online. I was a fan. Fast forward one year later after the Brooklyn-based pop rock band had just released their new single Outcast, and I was in bed with three of the most genuine and sweetest boys in Brooklyn. I chatted with singer and guitarist Jordan Topf, guitarist and keyboardist Corey Mullee, and bass player Alex Pitta, about documenting their lives through film and what brought each of the west coast boys to New York and what's kept them from leaving.
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POND: How did you all meet?
JORDAN: We met all around New York. I met Corey at a party, we were looking to start a band, and I met Pitta (Alex) at a restaurant that I used to work at. [Alex] was playing in bands in San Diego and I was playing in bands in Santa Cruz, my home town, and we bonded over that, and then he ended up joining the band.
COREY: We all worked together in the same hotel at one point too, working as event staff working weddings, and parties, and stuff at The Bowery Hotel; all in black suspenders and ties. So we kinda felt a little bit like a gang from the beginning, working late into the night together.
POND: What's the typical song writing process for you guys?
COREY: *Points at Jordan*
JORDAN: I'll write the songs in this very room. I'll record most of [it] myself and then send it in an email to the band to hear their thoughts and we'll work it out live and then eventually record it live in the studio. We have a, kind of like a committee sort of thing. I'll like submit a proposal to the committee and then they'll chop it up, or say what they think, or not say anything at all - that's when I know I haven't written a good song.
COREY: Yeah, when we all send emails back, or just text him, "Holy shit, that song was amazing!" Then he's like, "Yeah, I know. It's a good song."
JORDAN: *Winks and pops the collar smiling* Yeah, I know.
POND: Who are you guys listening to right now? Who else are you inspired by?
COREY: We listen to a lot of the same music driving around together. It's cool that we have a lot of the same interests in music, so we kinda just listen as a group to stuff and just get obsessed with albums at the same time.
JORDAN: Yeah, for our record we were really influenced by 80s post punk and pop music, like The Cure, Depeche Mode, different stuff like that. And more recently, I feel like we just listen to a lot of like what's on the radio, like rap. We love our label mates like Migos.
POND: Do you guys have any crazy road trip stories?
JORDAN: We always do this drive from Nashville to Austin when we're going to SXSW and it's so long...
ALEX: It's like a thirteen hour drive.
COREY: I'll always remember the first time we did that too, because we left at night and we got there in the morning, as the sun was coming up, and it was raining, pouring rain.
JORDAN: But it makes it all worth while when you have that Tex Mex. You leave Nashville with your Hattie B's, like hot chicken fix, and sweet tea and you arrive in Texas with that first bite of taco deli meat, migas... tacos... breakfast tacos.
COREY: You know what I'm talkin' about. *nodding at POND*
JORDAN: Yes, totally deprived in New York of our Mexican food.
ALEX: In that same drive that we were talking about from Nashville to Austin, like three in the morning we pulled over for gas -
COREY: *Puts fists to mouth* Oh my god the gas station.
JORDAN: *Blank stare* Oh my god.
ALEX: It's three in the morning, pitch black, and we find the only gas station -
COREY: And we're running really, really low.
JORDAN: But there were all these semi-trucks parked -
ALEX: And idling, but there was no one and the gas station was closed and then we figured out that none of the machines were working and we look up at the sign and there aren't even any gas prices listed, the gas station is out of order but there's all these semi-trucks idling -
COREY: And that's when we noticed that the semis were actually on and all idling -
ALEX: They were all on, there were like four of them and we were like, "What is going on? We should probably leave... Cause there's gotta be drivers around, but there's nothing else around here."
COREY: Pitch black, middle of the night, there's just this one lamp, with a light on and thousands of moths swarming around. So we just got the hell out of there before whoever was in those trucks came out to see what we were doing.
JORDAN: Yeah, it was probably some like satanist trucker ritual going on in the woods. Like it was woodsy and dark and creepy. And all these cars were running but there was nobody around.
COREY: Not trying to get sacrificed.
POND: What's your spirit animal?
COREY: My spirit animal is a Toucan. It's got a serious beak, flies around, just flauntin' colors, flappin'. Somebody told me my spirit animal was a Toucan one time in eighth grade, so I'm just gonna go with that.
JORDAN: Spanish doves are my spirit animal, Palomas. The house I grew up in, there is a sign outside of it that says "Dos Palomas." When we were recording our album in LA, within the first week of showing up there, at our house in the Valley where we were recording, we start swimming in the pool and there are these Spanish Doves looking over at us, which was crazy, two of them. And then they showed up at the studio a week after we'd been recording, two doves looking over, making sure we were okay. And then it happened again, we took a road trip to Joshua Tree and we were in the middle of the desert and then I walk outside the next morning with my cup of coffee in my underwear, looking out at the sun and there are these two doves perched in the tree, looking at me. That's why I feel they're my spirit animal... they keep popping up.
ALEX: I sort of feel like my spirit animal is a Koala cause I like to sleep, and eat, and just be super chill, like Koalas are. But I feel like if I were reincarnated after this life I would be a fox, just hanging out and foraging in the woods.
Night Trials will be out in early 2016 via 300 Entertainment/ Atlantic Records. For more on the band, visit their website.