It’s been eight months since Maggie Lindemann has released her debut album “SUCKERPUNCH”, and now she’s sitting across from me in a hotel room in Sydney. She’s here for a debut whirlwind tour of Australia full of sold out dates with fans who’ve been waiting a long time to finally see her live. Later that night she performed to a sweaty Crowbar where fans were screaming every word, and she left them begging for an encore.
Given the time between the release and her visit down under, the American pop-punk artist has had a lot of time to reflect on what this record has taught her. She’s also had time to see how fans have connected and reacted to the body of work from playing the songs live on the road. Some songs have continued to grow on her after witnessing the fans’ reaction to them, and some songs have proven to be more difficult than others to translate oto the live stage. But this is all a part of the journey for her as she tackles her first headlining tour and her debut album.
Our discussion weaves between touring and reflecting on the album, whilst also chatting about collaborating with Australian favourite Alex Lahey on a bunch of tracks, and the organic transition between pop star to a pop-punk queen. Check out the full chat BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: It’s been eight months since you released your album “SUCKERPUNCH”, and now you’re sitting across from me in Australia on your first headlining tour. From playing this record live, and seeing and hearing your fans’ relationships with these songs, what do you think is the biggest thing this record has taught you about yourself?
MAGGIE LINDEMANN: I think when you do anything, you’re not really thinking about the long term effect on things. And I definitely am not thinking about anything other than just writing stuff that relates to me. I’m doing meet and greets while I’m touring, so people will come and tell me they went through this exact same experience and that this particular song helped them. And it’s cool to see all of these people actually relate to it. And then also some people will relate certain things to their lives and it’s completely different to what I actually wrote the song about, but it’s super cool that they can relate to it in a different way. So not really what it’s taught me about myself, but it’s more-so opened my eyes to the bigger picture and made me realise it’s bigger than just me.
TB: Has any of your relationships with the songs on this record changed over time?
ML: Yes! I used to always say that “phases” was my least favorite. But only because it was the most mainstream sounding on the record. It felt like it could have been on “PARANOIA”, which I was trying to kind of move away from. But since touring, I now love that song and I really love performing it. It seems like everyone has a really good reaction every time it starts. So “phases” is definitely one of my favorites now.
TB: You’re a self-confessed perfectionist and you said that your team had to cut you off from working on this record because otherwise you’d always be working on it. Is there anything on this record now that you’ve changed slightly when performing them live?
ML: Not too much. I think sometimes I’ll change some melodies, or maybe I will go up a little bit, like a key or whatever. But for the most part, I perform everything pretty much as it is.
TB: What song on “SUCKERPUNCH” went through the most versions to get it to where it is now on the record?
ML: I feel like all of them went through a lot of changes. Like none of them really sounded the exact same at the beginning as they ended. “self sabotage” went through a lot of production notes. And “take me nowhere” went through a lot of lyric changes.
TB: Was there a song on the album that was the hardest to translate live?
ML: I don’t know if it’s the translation of it, but like personally “girl next door” is my least favorite to perform just because vocally I don’t think it translates as well. One thing about performing live is that it’s really hard to vocally go from doing really upbeat songs in a row where I’m belting a lot of the song to where I kind of am singing at a lower register. It’s way more vocal control to stay at a lower register for me. So, “girl next door” has been a really hard one for me.
TB: As someone who also self sabotages relationships, the lyrics on “self sabotage” felt very attacking *laughs*. In particular I loved; “It’s a self-fulfillin’ prophecy. I know I’m gonna fuck it up with you and me”. When you write introspective lyrics like that, do you walk about from a session feeling like you were in a therapy session?
ML: It definitely feels like a therapy session. “Self-sabotage” is personally one of my favorites. I feel like I really got the lyrics right with that one. It’s a really cool lyrical scene. I walked out of that session being like, “oh, this feels spot on:”. When I perform that song live I’m very aware of myself. It’s not like I’m really realizing anything new about myself. It’s kind of just that I’m speaking it out loud.
TB: You worked with Kellin Quinn on “How Could You Do This To Me”, and I know you are a huge Sleeping With Sirens fan, so can you tell us about the creative and collaboration process for this song with him?
ML: I wrote the song first and then I reached out to him. I was like, “Hey, I have a song. I don’t know if you’d be interested”, and he wrote back straight away and was down. We got him to do like two different versions, and I think we ended up going with the first version. I always like to get multiple versions to see the different energy and the different vibe people can do. Kellin’s so talented, and I love Sleeping With Sirens, and honestly the moment I wrote that song I heard him on it.
TB: Talking about collaboration, you also worked with Australian artist Alex Lahey on “Cages”, who you also wrote “Novacaine” with and then “Crash And Burn”, and “Knife Under My Pillow” with on “PARANOIA”. Is there something in particular that you love about Alex’s songwriting, or the way your sessions have been with her?
ML: I feel like she’s just really good at writing hooks, and very catchy melodies. So I really like working with her because she just gets it. Especially with pop punk. The minute she’ll do a melody pass, it’s so catchy and sounds so anthemic.
So I really like working with her, especially when I’m trying to get that song that’s a single. She’s definitely the person I call. But I also just love her energy. I love her vibe. She’s really fun to work with, and she’s really nice.
TB: You are here in Australia for your first visit down under. What was the biggest misconception you had about Australia that you’ve now debunked since you’ve been here?
ML: Whenever I think about Australia I only think of summertime, and it’s been cold and raining the whole time we’ve been here. When I picture Australia, I think of kangaroos, koalas, bugs, the beach, and people with long blond hair.
You guys also have got those big ass spiders, which I haven’t seen, knock on wood *laughs*.
TB: You’ve done a lot of support slots which can be quite grueling, and in some way you need to approach performing your set differently. So now that you’ve been able to do a headline tour, what’s something you’ve learnt about yourself as a performer which you’re taking to evolve?
ML: I think I have way more confidence when I’m doing my own shows as those people actually came because they wanna see you. They’re actually interested in seeing you. So I think headline shows take a lot of the pressure off, as support slots are really nerve racking.
At headline shows I’m not looking in the crowd and people are looking bored, which is like definitely a thing that happens when you’re opening up for someone, even if they’re not bored, they will just look bored and that has made me a little insecure. I’m still learning how to perform and talk to a crowd because I am an introvert. I’m very to myself. Like even on stage I don’t like to speak.
TB: What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve seen when you’ve looked out into a crowd during this first world tour?
ML: Sometimes I’ll look into a crowd and I’ll see a group of friends and they’re all singing to each other, holding hands, and jumping up and down. And I think that’s so cute because I do that with my friends. When we go to a concert and a song we love comes on, we get so excited and scream, so to see people react like that to my music is a really cool experience.
I don’t see myself from an outside perspective, so when stuff like that happens, I’m like, “oh, shit. I’m actually making music that people listen to. Like, for real”.
TB: For this tour did you ever think of flipping songs like “Pretty Girls” and “Obsessed” into a “pop goes punk” situation and giving them a new life? Or for you is it important to have a new chapter?
ML: No, not really. I mean, this is my first headlining tour, so I’m not gonna do anything like that. But, I’ve definitely considered it for Pretty Girl. Like, if I did something big like headlined a music festival, or played an iconic venue then I might do it. It would need to be a special moment.
TB: A lot of this record feels like a reflection on that time and how you’ve grown into yourself now. So Looking back at that time, if you were to play that version of Maggie “SUCKERPUNCH” how do you think she’d react?
ML: I’d think it was so cool because even when I was doing “Pretty Girl”, I grew up listening to pop-punk music. My parents liked metal and alternative music, so I grew up with a lot of that music playing. When I first started making music, pop-punk was very dead. It’s only now that it’s having a big resurgence. So I never felt like I could actually do pop-punk music until now. I had to go with what was going to make me money and actually do something for me at the time. But then after some time I was like, “wait, no, this actually sucks”. You just gotta do what you love. So I decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore. So I think if I were to show my younger self this record, she would be like, “Holy shit, I can do this”.
TB: For anyone that follows you on YouTube, they would know that you have some pretty incredible covers like “La La Land”, “Ceilings”, “If I’m James Dean You’re Audrey Hepburn”, and “Just A Girl” from my favourite band of all time, No Doubt. But if you were to ever cover an Australian band or artist, what song would you want to do?
ML: I feel like I never know where someone’s from until I see an interview or something and they talk and I’m like, “oh shit, they’re from Australia”. But I don’t know… maybe The Veronicas, “Untouched”? They’re sick!
You can listen to “SUCKERPUNCH” now!