Porches Talks Solitude, Creative Frustrations & the Comfort of Water

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Jason Nocito
Porches

Aaron Maine is obsessed with the image of water: in the air, in bathtubs and in large, formless lakes. Two years after touring behind his second studio album Pool, Porches’ sound has evolved into a mesh of downbeat, nostalgic indie pop that continues to focus on the isolating feeling of being enveloped in water. His latest effort, The House, out Friday (Jan. 19) on Domino Records, is a suite of songs that meld together into an aimless, long swim that proves to be Maine’s most intimate collection.

With the album's two singles -- the pensive, slow Dev Hynes collaboration “Country” and the four-on-the-floor 90s house banger “Find Me” -- Maine shows The House to be a work with a lot of range, a powerful record with as much sound as silence. In an interview with Billboard, Maine talks about the solitude and comfort present in water, his interest in poetry, and making The House.

Can you tell me why you chose to release “Country,” your slow Dev Hynes collab first, and then followed it up with “Find Me,” which is comparatively fast-paced?

I was excited to release “Country” first. It felt like an anti-single, and a nice introduction to what I'd been working on. Specifically with The House, it's kind of hard to choose three singles that give an accurate idea of what the record is gonna sound like. It’s exciting to have those two songs on the opposite end of the spectrum and let the listener know what they're in for. As a whole, I would love it if everyone listened to it all the way through at least once or twice because it's kind of a whole world.

This is a very nostalgic, solitary record, and that feeling envelops the listener. How do you feel that languidness comes across?

I guess if you put the headphones on it's kind of like going underwater in the sense that by blocking out your actual surroundings, you can kind of internalize or move inward and kind of dig into yourself. I had just gotten back from a year of touring with Pool, and I think after dealing with a fucking gauntlet like that, my time felt even more precious, I just wanted to keep trying to remind myself how much of a blessing it is that I can wake up and work on music and that that's considered work. I think naturally there's some solitude that arises from that, especially because I worked on it mostly alone. I think it was a kind of isolation, but voluntary. It’s a kind of meditation.

Was the writing process as isolating as the recording process?

They sort of go hand in hand for me. I do both alone. I'll wake up and write for the first hour or two every day, and just kind of clear my head, write down if I have any dreams. If I'm in the process of writing, I'll try and come home and look at the page I wrote that day; I’ll have a page full of words to sing and just see what happens. I go fucking insane in my room doing this, and I usually do it alone. It was toward the end of The House when I reached out to people to start collaborating, and it felt amazing to paint a picture of the personalities that I come in contact with. I put a lot of weight on making something good; if I spend nine hours working on a song and it sounds like shit, every fucking time without fail I feel like I'll never write a good song again or make a good sound again—I can't even have a conversation with someone if I have bad day creatively.

I read somewhere you wanted to release a book of poems.

I’ve been writing like a maniac this past year. A lot of poems; some of them turn into songs. I’m still figuring out how to collect them or present them to anyone. I think it'd be cool to just released a straight up PDF of poetry and some other elements. I'm interested in spoken word. Personally I don't really listen to a lot of poets reading their work, but I do read it. I like when people just talk over a song, like when Lou Reed does it, so I've been experimenting with that. There are moments where I've been a lot freer, and go in and out of singing, which feels refreshing to me and it's been something I've kind of touched on a little, but not as much as on this record.

There's a lot of water on this record, especially as images of salvation and solitude. What's so safe about water to you?

It has so many iterations. There's a bath, which is comforting and calming and safe and womb-like. There's the water in the air, the water in the sky, in the ocean, in your body. I just think the fact that it runs through everything is why I'm drawn to it. Growing up, I really loved to swim by a lake or a pool I grew up near. For me, it's always the first external part of my surrounding that I notice, so when I sit down to write, it seems a necessary part in having this whole image or mood come across.

Do you miss swimming?

I definitely do miss it a lot. I can take the train to where I grew up, like 45 minutes north, and if I can get a ride from a high school kid who works at the coffee shop or an old friend that lives there, I can go swimming in this really nice lake. I probably do that less now, but I'd probably go swimming every day if I could. I guess there are some pools I could jump into, but I'd rather hop in a lake.