The last 15 years have taken emo-pop trio Mae on quite a journey. The band’s name, which stands for “Multisensory Aesthetic Experience,” was inspired by drummer Jacob Marshall’s studies at Virginia's Old Dominion University.
He was interested in “the perception of beauty, awe and wonder … how the senses cross,” frontman Dave Elkins recalls. “It was fascinating to me because music had to be a big part of it. I’ve always loved music so much and at that stage in my life, we were kindred spirits.”
The pair joined forces with Zach Gehring, Rob Sweitzer and Mark Padgett, and they released their first album Destination Beautiful in 2003. After the band’s third studio album Singularity dropped in 2007, Mae parted ways with their second label, Capitol Records, along with band members Sweitzer and Padgett.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing so much at that time, but we were trying to get to the heart of it for the three of us individually and collectively,” Elkins says. “We thought, ‘Well if we’re gonna do this band, after all of this, what are we doing it for?’”
In the years to follow, the group went through some growing pains. They started their own label and self-released a series of three EPs: (m)orning, (a)fternoon, (e)vening. Mae donated the profits to Habitat for Humanity and helped build a house for a family in their hometown.
“We were able to give back to our core audience that we’d really connected with when it wasn’t necessarily about being with Capitol Records, or writing a song for the radio or Fuse or MTV2,” Elkins says.
The band subsequently decided to take a break until around 2016, when they were invited to perform at Forbes’ Under 30 EMEA Summit in Israel. Mae created “LIGHT” for this occasion, an immersive VR-synced concert experience that was the first of its kind.
LIGHT included a 360-degree video that viewers could download and experience during the live performance.
“It was beautiful and amazing,” Elkins says. “And that was just the beginning.”
They’re able bring a version of that experience to their show at Curtain Club on Thursday, for those willing to show up right at doors.
“You put on a haptic vest (with 20-30 vibrating disks), and so you can feel LIGHT while you’re viewing and listening to LIGHT,” Elkins says. “And then there’s a fragrance that is part of the experience, so that will get at least four of the senses going.”
Mae’s upcoming self-titled record provides fans with even more opportunities for this type of multi-sensory experience. There will be an extended, experiential version that includes VR content and a cardboard viewer, so you can experience the visual accompaniment and create your own MAE at home.
The album, which is Mae’s first full-length release in nearly 10 years, drops Nov. 30, and Elkins seems like he couldn’t be more excited.
“I have this joy and this excitement that’s kind of teeming inside of my soul right now that reminds me of my favorite moments when I was just younger, experiencing the first versions of something,” he says. “We wanted to put out a record, hit the road to play some shows and turn things up again, because people need to hear a message of love, specifically open-minded love. As well as inclusive respect, care, honesty and forgiveness.
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“We were kids when we started Mae. We’re learning that we still don’t know much, but it feels like an exciting new time to do it in this way. “
Elkins also has some pretty great memories of time spent in Dallas.
“My dad, stepmom and sister lived in Dallas for four years, so I would spend summers and spring breaks in Dallas [as a kid]. I even had a season pass to Six Flags,” he reminiscences. “I love Dallas.”
See Mae on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Curtain Club. Tickets are $22.