Maritime is a natural progression for
Von Bohlen after the remarkably successful Promise Ring disbanded
in the fall of 2002. Shortly after the break-up, he and Didier formed
the trio Vermont with Pele guitarist Chris Roseanau. Then along
came Eric Axelson, who Von Bohlen and Didier had first met years
earlier at a Dismemberment Plan show in Madison, Wisconsin.
"It was their first tour, before they had an album and before
we had an album," Von Bohlen said. "We were just a couple
random bands playing a hall, and at that point I thought what they
were doing was complete insanity."
If that doesn't sound like a compliment, that's because it isn't.
Von Bohlen was stunned by Dismemberment Plan's early "avant
pop" approach, which he said was more avant than pop. "I
must have been 20 and thought 'What was this?' One guy was playing
trombone. It was pretty challenging."
Years after that first meeting, however, the two bands became friends,
and the coinciding disbanding of both Dismemberment Plan and The
Promise Ring in 2002 made for an opportunity for Von Bohlen, Didier
and Axelson to work together.
But even before Axelson joined Maritime, the band (which was then
called "In English") already had received interest from
the Promise Ring's former label, Epitaph subsidiary Anti- Records.
"We had made a phone call deal for our first record and they
said, 'Cool, we'll pay for it,'" Von Bohlen said. "When
we sent them the master, they said they could take it or leave it.
I guess they didn't think it was 'the sound of now.' We said, 'If
you don't want to do it, we don't want you to do it.'"
Despite paying for the recording, Anti- handed the masters back
to Von Bohlen and company. "We took it to a few places, but
none of them wanted it. At the lowest point trying to figure out
what to do with it, Kim Coletta from DeSoto Records called."
DeSoto was Dismemberment Plan's old label, and Von Bohlen had known
Coletta, formerly of the band Jawbox, for years having been a huge
Jawbox fan from his early teen years. DeSoto, who's roster includes
bands like Burning Airlines, Juno and The Eternals, seemed like
a perfect fit for Maritime's style, which is more adult and laid-back
than The Promise Ring's jangly indie-pop. Songs from the new album
like "Sleep Around," with its puppy-tail piano chords,
gossamer horn parts, and young-boy Ray Davies vocals, feel like
a sunny slice of British pop. The sweet, kicky arrangements almost
always mask introspective lyrics tinged in new wave existentialism.
Check out "Someone Has to Die," for instance, where Von
Bohlen gleefully sings, "All I know is that someone has to
die to make room for you and I" over a bubbly shuffle. Or the
acoustic golden sunset of "I'm Not Afraid," with the line
"I thought that I might start to smoke / Just so I'd have
somewhere to put my hands / When time unplans affairs."
must have been 20 and thought 'What was this?' One guy was