Alternative indie singer-songwriter Briston Maroney plays to tantalized crowds across the country, but on Sunday morning at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, he took the time to sit down with The Daily Californian and deliver an important message: “Go Bears, rawr.”
“This is our first time at Outside Lands, and even just walking around, it’s been very unique,” Maroney said of his first performance at Golden Gate Park. With a jam-packed concert and festival schedule, 2022 kept Maroney constantly on the move.
Maroney touched on how every festival has a different “crazy energy”; one can be sipping a coffee trying to center themselves in the morning, and then watch as the bass player for Metallica walks by eating an Oreo, all before even hearing a single band play.
“Festivals have a wild pacing,” Maroney added excitedly. “Sometimes it feels like a fluke that people are here to listen to him because they’re at a festival. They have no idea who we are, and it’s a weird balancing act of playing for people who might know your music, but also playing to a new audience.”
Constant adjustment is necessary to keep everyone engaged and interested, Maroney said. Playing to “a sea of people” who might be diehard listeners or entirely ignorant of his stylings means working in moments personal to the band while also keeping a setlist general enough for the masses.
As much as Maroney would love to leave in as many little jokes in his shows as possible, the contrast between his festival experiences and headline touring has allowed him to generate a breadth of performances that ensure everyone can have a good time, including the band.
“This is the first year (traveling and performing) has been really consistent,” Maroney said. The constant road-tripping life of a performer has introduced a different level of physical and emotional wear and tear for Maroney, but playing in natural settings to new audiences keeps him going.
Although he’s excited for a break, Maroney takes time for himself by going on meditative walks — he noted that the San Francisco park’s trees surrounding the venue would be perfect for him to pause, take a breath and reconnect to why he does what he does.
“At this point, I’ve become accustomed to writing in a lot of different places, and I think it’s a blessing and a curse,” Maroney said. “Traveling obviously comes with its downfalls and its difficulties, but I also think it demands that you stay alert and stay aware of your surroundings.”
Maroney’s 2019 EP Indiana was massively influenced by his consistent movement. He explained always being in “survival mode” during his vagabond-esque early years, attempting to absorb the unique facets of his geographic location at every point in time.
However, those travelings “weirdly” prepared Maroney in a way for the life of a professional singer: Constantly being on the road often means facing continual chaos, which he has been able to accept as a new chapter in his journeying.
Geographic chaos does unfortunately also translate into emotional pandemonium. Maroney described a kind of emotional whiplash on tour, where one day he’d be fine and dandy, but a couple of days later he’d ask his manager (only kind of sarcastically), “Is there any joy in the world?”
“It’s exhausting. It’s f—ing hard to take everything in, really experience it,” Maroney said. “Being that open all the time is tough when you have a different opportunity every day to take in something of this scale.”
So how does Maroney slow down? Music, of course, helps ground him significantly. Even if he’s performing up on stage, Maroney feels it’s an hour or two he can be with himself, with his music. Maroney added that he wishes he had another outlet for relaxation, so he challenges himself to work at “the opposite end of the spectrum” and enjoy non-musical free time.
On tour, Maroney can be found with a book in hand and no destination in mind, wandering for three or four hours straight. Although he added that his calves are not a fan of this activity, reading and emptying his mind of any destination is incredibly freeing. (By the way, he’s just finished reading “Bunny” by Mona Awad and is really into psychological thrillers right now).
Maroney’s other creative outlets include recording the second season of his podcast “The Bottle Rocket Company,” wherein he sits down with a guest that had a hand in making his 2021 album Sunflower. He also loves to make music that is not ever going to be released, especially if it is uncharacteristic of who he is and his stylings.
“I feel most creative when I’m not doing creative things,” Maroney added. “Walking around, there’s no concrete way to see if I’m doing good or bad at something. I can tell myself that I’m cool and no one can confirm that that’s not true.”
Sarcastic and self-deprecating comments aside, Maroney loves his current lifestyle. His musical career came about quickly, and Maroney is not sure what he’d be doing otherwise — the old man at his core would probably be a fisherman or doing “some other hippie s—.”
“I loved writing songs, but I started singing because I was writing songs, and then wanted to share the songs, and obviously ended up being in front of people,” Maroney said. “Now I am the front of this whole body of music, and it happened so fast. And I love it.”