Madaila

Madaila is one of those bands that people want to see. They’re pros at having fun and set the standard for true professionals.

On top of running a music studio in Burlington, VT, they’ve created a huge buzz with standout shows following the release of their debut album, The Dance. What started as a gathering of talented musicians in Middlebury, VT has become a must-see on stages throughout the Northeast. Their blend of playful pop and neon theatrics hit Otis at sundown on Friday night and the party didn’t stop all weekend. 


The gentlemen of Madaila were gracious enough to invite us into their studio for a three-way… interview, that is. The result is this conversation with Eric Maier, Jer Coons, and Mark Daly (the remaining two members, Willoughby and Dan were present in spirit, but not in person).

Here we are at the end of a workday in your studio. What have you guys been up to since Otis?

Eric:

We’ve been making our next record! We run this studio, and run our own band, which is awesome and allows us to do what we want. It’s a lot of work. So I’d say it’s a combination of keeping the wheels in motion on our career vision, and also the music. 

Mark came in with a bunch of demos. We looked at them and said, “How are we going to make this happen?” We really loved The Dance, so we wondered how this would compare. But he sent us 24 tracks that were all amazing.

Jer:

I’d say we have eight or nine that are about two third’s done. We’ve taken them to the point of being ready for vocals and live drums, and then mixing. There is this great overabundance of great tunes, and we have the good problem of having too many, so we’ve just been solidifying the top tier, and then the next four, and then we get to pick the few that round out the album based on what will make a cohesive piece of art that will tie it together.

Eric:

I do a lot of the business side of things, and there have been some exciting developments recently. We’ve caught-on on Spotify. It’s a weird thing where you have to lift yourselves up by your bootstraps. Spotify won’t promote you until you’re big, but you won’t become big unless Spotify promotes you. We’ve managed to get on those “discover weekly” playlists. I don’t know how, but our monthly listeners went from like 8,000 to about 20,000 in a week. But that’s just a representation of the music we’re making, so the biggest thing is the new record.

Mark:

There are new music videos in the works, too. I don’t want to give too much away, but this next album’s going to be fairly complex and dense. We have some ambitious plans that generally all tie in to the concept of the record.

Eric:

It’s six months away, and we’re brainstorming. We plan to have a video before we drop the record. It’s different for us because we don’t have a label that drops 100 grand on a music video. Videos, to us, are an important expense and a great way to release a song.

Jer:

And also to connect with people, because there’s a goofiness… a levity, and a gravity to the band’s music and stage presence, and it’s really nice to be able to showcase the various facets of that personality. Video is a great way to share the music and get people to stick around. 

We live in an age of continually short and dwindling attention spans, and it’s a time in the music industry where you have to do everything you can to put a creative spin on any release that you have. So we’ve been talking a lot philosophically about the best way to utilize our in-house creativity and friends who are willing to be involved at the ground level and help us spread and create something that will hopefully grow into something much bigger in the not-so-distant future.

Eric:

When we started our fans were just our friends. And it was fun because people were like, “Those guys?” You wouldn’t necessarily think, meeting us in person, that we enjoy going balls to the wall on stage wearing spandex.

Jer:

Like, for example, I wear all black every day, so it must be strange for people that I’m friends with to see me on stage in a pink suit.

Mark:

But you look pretty good in pink

Jer:

I do? Well thank you!

Eric:

We have a lot of experience in the industry, and a willingness to engage with the business realities. If you’re trying to make a living as a band you have to engage with the professional aspect. We’ve been lucky to know where we’re headed, and to not need to bring anybody into our circle of decision-making that isn’t passionate about how we make music and express ourselves.

Would you consider Middlebury to be a musical town?

Jer:

There’s a lot of great music that’s come out of there, from Anais Mitchel to Alpenglow…

Mark:

Dispatch, bro?

Jer:

Dispatch, yes. Good point. And also this younger group that we really like working with called Iron Eyes Cody. It seems like there’s something about Middlebury and also just Vermont in general. There’s not a lot to do, so people stay inside, especially if you’re not as outdoorsy. You stay inside and work on other things and get really invested in your craft.

Eric:

Some of us do go outside, Mark and I both go outside.

Jer:

Right, I actually live in an elaborate system of tunnels, miles underground. (Sarcasm, laughs)

Eric:

I know so many people that are doing it professionally and it’s a small town. Also, in Burlington, we’re surrounded by an insane amount of talent. It’s such a cool scene. People just want to connect with each other and play together.

Jer:

And there’s a priority of quality of life over a bigger city’s tendency to wow you with options. There’s a focus here that attracts people to feel at home here in a creative way. There’s a really supportive creative community in all facets of art. The venues and studios that have sprung up, along with festivals, local beer and food…it all ties in to create this amazing web of talented, artistic, socialist people.

Eric:

Hey, your socialist tag was pretty good.

Jer:

(Laughs) Yeah. Can you just change it to democratic socialist? Gotta feel the Bern.

Do you guys enjoy playing festivals?

Mark:

Oh yeah. What we’ve been realizing is that we’re a pop band, but we all come from different backgrounds, be it jazz, or even more jam band influences. So we can stretch songs out and satisfy people, in a way, with the catchy-ness, but also by jamming stuff out and being more spontaneous. The records tend to be pretty tight, so when we play live people are often really surprised.

Eric:

When we have that open-endedness and spontaneity, each festival has its own feeling or vibe. Each one has its own unique fingerprint, so where we go with the songs is different. If you’re just playing the same exact thing every time it’s harder to achieve that.

Jer:

The beautiful thing is, we can typically estimate within a reasonable degree of accuracy what type of a set we want to play based on the vibe of the festival. Maybe people are getting down with jammier stuff, so we’ll just take a few songs from the set and stretch them out, or maybe we want to just play the hits, and only one song gets stretched out. We’ll even make those calls during the set. So people react to things, and we’re reacting to that. It’s just this really nice…um, ssss…

Eric:

Situation.

Mark:

Ceremony.

Eric:

Simmetry! Serendipity.

Mark:

Collective.

Jer:

Two way street…uh

Eric:

Symbiotic!

Jer:

Symbiotic! Yes, symbiotic relationship.

Do you anticipate more festivals?

Eric:

We already have six or seven on the docket for this summer. We’re looking to do more. We’re still in a growth stage, and it would cost a lot of money to do a large international tour, so we’re choosing to save and invest it in other parts of what we’re doing. We’re keeping it local and trying to stimulate growth around where we’re at. We’re being more strategic. We’ll work up our home before we go out to San Diego or something.

We should definitely talk about the outfits…

Eric:

You want us to respond to them not being crazy enough? Is that the concern?

Mark:

This was just a natural progression that started when I was doing solo stuff. I’ve always loved to dress up. Growing up in a big family, we had a sweet dress-up closet. A lot of options. A lot of crazy shit. So when I started out I was just like, I’m gonna have fun and be myself. The whole nature of just trying to be yourself and be genuine is infectious, and I think people respond to that a lot more than if you’re trying to be something you’re not. Dressing like that is a part of our goofiness, and not taking ourselves too seriously. While we are in this to win it, we’re just trying to have fun.

Jer:

We’re glad that it’s a talking point! And we don’t care that our dicks are flopping around. People are like, “oh my god” but shock value is fun!

Eric:

The side effect is that people are talking about it, and it’s the way that they identify us, but it’s really just way more fun to have another aspect of the evening. What are you gonna wear? It doesn’t have to be the 80’s spandex thing either. We really like these different colored suits that we just got. We just want it to be different.

Jer:

In the beginning it was just our friends coming and seeing us, and we’ve been lucky enough to encourage them to be weirdos as well, and dress up. We have people who go out just to buy random outfits for a single show, and try to one-up each other. It’s a really interesting sense of community that has developed at some of our headliner shows where you look out and see someone who’s dressed crazy with glitter and a headband and a cheetah-print blazer or gold booty shorts. I would love to encourage as many people as possible to dress up for the shows.

Eric:

Absolutely!

Jer:

I wanna see some hairy dude in drag next to some dude in a tuxedo. Like the full spectrum. Instead of just going out and having a normal night, you’re doing something.

Mark:

Why are theme parties more fun than normal parties? It’s ‘cause you’re all in costume. It kicks things up a notch.

Eric:

I think the best answer is just that Mark fucking loves costumes.

Mark:

Oh yeah, but these guys have totally hopped on the train!

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

So What's Next?

Eric:

We’ll be wrapping up this album in the coming months, and are looking forward to a release in the first have of the year.

Jer:

We like to make things harder for ourselves because we believe that if we take the time and people are responding to the music then we’ll be able to grow this thing organically in a way that respects where we’re coming from.

Eric:

Releasing the album is going to be a cool moment. We’ve come a long way in the last year, and we didn’t have any platform before. That’s the biggest aspect of this year is the big new record, the tour behind it, and videos. If we weren’t in a band we’d get locked up for the stuff that we get to do. It’s such a privilege to get to do what you love. We want to grow. We want the party to get bigger, but it’s essential that we stay true to who we are and where we come from to do it in the right way.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.

Jer:

Madaila. Slowly sharing Mark’s love of costumes around the world.