Discovery: Mainland


Mainland play New York rock; fast, choppy songs in the same vein as The Postelles or The Strokes when they were just starting out. Recorded at their shared studio in Brooklyn, Brickhouse, on instruments recycled and repurposed from the bands that played their before them, Mainland is in the process of mastering their debut album, Nights and Weekends. Until then, you can watch the premiere of their first official music video, “The Stroll,” below.

We spoke with three Mainland members, singer and guitarist Jordan Topf, guitarist Corey Mullee, and drummer Dylan Longstreet, about what brought them to the city and what brought them together.

AGES:  22 (Jordan Topf), 23 (Corey Mullee), 24 (Dylan Longstreet)

HOMETOWN: Northern California (Topf and Mullee), Upstate New York (Longstreet)

CURRENT LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York

STYLE OF MUSIC: Topf: Something you can shake your hair to really crazy, something you can bob to, something that could wake you up in the morning in a shocking way.
You can dance to it, but there’s also a lot of aspects to our music that are dreamy, nostalgic. I’ve always felt like our sound has a nostalgic thing to it.

MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT: Mullee: I started playing AC/DC songs on an acoustic guitar. Then started writing my own stuff with a friend about how much school sucked. Stuff like that. [laughs]
Hard times.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight years old and writing music since I was really young. I was learning ’60s stuff, but then when it came to my freshman year of high school, my friend played me Bowie and Lou Reed, and I learned how to play all of those songs. It kind of influenced my move to New York—they’re so crucial to my development as a songwriter.

HIGH SCHOOL COOL: Longstreet: It was weird for me in high school. It wasn’t cool to be in a rock band. You assume people pay attention to that stuff and think it’s cool. We never even talked about it at school. It was just a secret thing we all did, we were a small circle of best friends, we played music and nobody knew or cared.
I was really into rock-‘n’-roll, too, in  a way that made me really not cool. I was very particular. I had to have the t-shirts of the bands I idolized, so I’d have a giant Sex Pistols t-shirt because I couldn’t find it in the size that actually fits me—it’d be huge, draping down on me, and then I’d wear skin-tight Levis. It had to be Levis, the 501’s with the button fly. I was so particular about everything, but the result was not cool-looking at all—probably the dorkiest looking guy. [laughs] Being really into rock-‘n’-roll doesn’t necessarily make you cool in high school.

STARTING A BAND: Topf: I moved to New York to play music and study audio engineering and recording. I was playing in bands off and on, writing songs that would eventually become Mainland’s record. But it wasn’t until I met Corey that I felt like I had someone that I could collaborate with and really dive into the music. [Corey] came to a show we played in Harlem. He had never seen me play music before, and he eventually told me, “Man, the band you were playing with just sucked.”
I was just so taken by Jordan’s energy and the way he confronted the audience—he was jumping on top of his amp  engaging anybody who was close to him. I knew I wanted to play in that band, [but] I was like, “There’s nothing good about this band except for Jordan.”

STARTING A SONG: Topf: I think our main disagreement is when we’re writing. We spend so much time just picking it apart. Usually, I’ll write the skeleton of the song in my room or at home and then I’ll demo it on my iPhone, email it to everyone, and then they’ll probably not listen to it.
Mullee: That’s not true.
Sometimes they listen to it. I usually know it’s not good when they don’t say anything.  Sometimes I’ll get a reply and they’ll be like, “Oh, okay, we should work on this next practice,” and then we sit down and work on it and it’s kind of like a committee. Bring it to the committee and then they chop it up on the chopping board—
You’ll get a little notification on your phone that you just got an email—there’s no body to the email, the subject heading is “new song.” You listen from the phone and you hear Jordan in his bedroom playing his acoustic guitar, singing. Sometimes you send an email or a text back saying “Dude, this fucking rocks, this is gonna be one of our songs.” And then sometimes you don’t write him back and then he gets the idea.
Topf: I churn out a song a week—a couple songs a week.

WHAT I BRING TO THE BAND: Mullee: I think one of my main contributions to this band besides playing guitar and being a musician—
He’s really good at sifting out the bullshit.
: I see things in [Jordan’s] music that I know are gonna be really fucking awesome, and sometimes I have to tell him which ones they are —”Hey there’s gold here.” He might have forgotten about it, or he might be like, “Oh that needs too much work, it’s never gonna be a song,” but I convince him.

MOST PRODUCTIVE HOURS OF THE DAY:  Topf: Between two and four in the morning.  I’ll be writing in a half-awake state. I find that to be a really interesting time to write, because you come back to it and you’re like, “Man how did I come up with that?” You don’t even remember recording it when you go back to it.

DANCING SHOES: Longstreet: It’s not that I refuse to dance because I’m afraid of looking stupid. I literally do not have the impulse to dance. I’m more cerebral when I hear music; it’s not a physical thing. If I go to a rock concert, I’ll head bang or whatever, but I just never feel like dancing. I’ll lay down a phat hip-hop groove that everyone else will dance to and that’s great.
: There’s that expression: “Those that can’t do, teach.” I feel like, “Those that can’t dance, play.” [laughs]

DOPPELGÄNGERS: Mullee: I like Pretty in Pink, because Jordan is kind of like a Ducky character.
That’s what everyone has been saying lately. I used to wear a hat like Ducky. [Now] I just wear it in the privacy of my own home. [laughs]
You just get inside and you’re like, “Finally! No one can see me.”

FUCK, MARRY, KILL, MUSICAL GENRE EDITION: Topf: I would fuck soul, marry rock-‘n’-roll, divorce it, marry it again, die next to it, and then I would kill ring-tone rap. Specifically ring-tone rap.
What the hell is ring-tone rap?
This is gonna be a Twitter beef, isn’t it? What’s that girls name from the bay? Kreayshawn.
I’m literally incapable, with the way I listen to music, of answering that question.