Collective Man Spotlight Series Interview
Collective Man just released their first music video for their song “Godless Preacher”. The Latest Noise interviewed the Montclair, NJ band to find out what they have in store for 2017. This interview was conducted on 12/22/16. Collective Man Bandcamp
TLN: Let’s start with your most recent release, the music video for “Godless Preacher”. This is you first music video for your first album “Nothing Can Kill Me”. Tell us about how that came together.
Collective Man: That’s a pretty funny story actually. We were kind of having a crisis because we didn’t really know what we wanted our first video to be, in fact, we originally were going to release “Gimme a Ring” as our first video, but “Godless Preacher” came first because of it’s message. That song is about being lied to, or mislead, by someone you trust. And so we’re thinking how do we convey that in a video? Should we actually depict a preacher lying to his congregation? No no, that’s too in-your-face metaphor, and it kind of limits the scope of the song. The election was the perfect backdrop to a song about liars and hypocrites. Plus, Pat was more than happy to be the devil (which is his true form), which sealed the deal.
TLN: Collective Man is made up of four friends that place importance on creating a unique, original sound rather than highlighting one specific musician, instrument or style. How do you work together to ensure that the music stays true to your vision?
CM: It’s a lot of work, but all of us are so focused on the goal of being a great band that it tends to work out just fine. No one in the band gets exactly what they want, but the band always gets what it wants. If there’s ever tension when writing a song, or arranging it for the band, or whatever, there is always a path forward. There’s an unwritten rule in the band that if one of us is that strongly against a part, then there should be a way to change it so that it satisfies all of us. And the entire band not need be present for progress to be made. All of us practice in every combination with one another. So at a full practice Dan and Pat might have a new part worked out for a song, or Reo and Steve have a new part worked out, or whatever. Collective Man is kind of like Fight Club; no real leader, but a group working towards a common goal.
TLN: Tell us about recording your first album, what was the experience like, the circumstances around recording it.
CM: Matt Monaco, a close friend of ours, as well as a great local musician and president of Two Trees Artistry, offered us the opportunity to record at the home studio of Eric Troyer of ELO Part II, and The Orchestra fame. It was really cool meeting him because you walk into his house and he’s the nicest guy, you’re shaking his hand thanking him, and in the back of your head you’re thinking “This guy recorded with John Lennon”, so it was one of those weird moments. None of us had ever recorded in a proper studio before so it was a great experience, but all of us really enjoyed it. We put in full eight hour days in there and they flew by because of how much fun we were having.
TLN: What were the biggest challenges in recording the first album? Anything you would do differently next time around?
CM: The biggest challenge was probably our inexperience with the process. We got bogged down by software problems, metronome issues, problems with the bass tone. That said, we prepared pretty well, and when we were actually playing we were making good time. I mean, we recorded our ten song debut album in two days, so we feel pretty good about that.
TLN: You have said that you have some of the second album written, if you want to tell us anything about what we can expect from that album. How are you looking to evolve as a band for the second album?
CM: It’s hard to really evaluate where the band is going because it’s hard to establish where we even are right now. You ever heard of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? It applies to bands too. That said, one aspect of the second album that will probably be more obvious in retrospect will be Dan’s influence on the band. A few songs on the album were written before he was in the band, and then they were kind of retrofitted with a new Dan part on top. With the second album everything is happening from the ground up so Dan’s parts will emerge in a different way, which will subsequently change the way the rest of our parts emerge. That’s reflective of the fact that the band drives itself, no one drives the band.
TLN: You guys have played The Stone Pony in Asbury Park 4 times so far including your debut show, what can you tell us about playing at such an iconic venue for your first gig.
CM: That’s right! It was a bit of a surreal experience. Dan, Pat, and Steve all had experience performing in front of crowds on one level or another, but Reo didn’t really have that and had a bit of stage fright going into that first gig. Kinda weird having stage fright and then sing a song like “Godless Preacher”. But overall it was a great experience, I think we surprised a lot of people. Friends were coming up to us after the show going “wow, I wasn’t expecting that!” If you’re surprising people at your gigs you’re doing something right so we were happy with it. Legend has it there’s an audioboard recording of that show.
TLN: What can you tell us about the Asbury Park scene, what makes it special? Any advice for bands wanting to get a gig there?
CM: Asbury Park is always poppin’, which is great for exposure. The Asbury scene is special because you can feel the weight of the music in the air. I mean, you didn’t even say his name and I know whoever’s reading this is thinking about Bruce Springsteen just because “Asbury Park” was in the question. That music has seeped into the soil there and the whole scene kind of feeds off that. As for bands who want to gig there, just go on out and do it! It’s not as hard as it sounds, you just have to make the calls. In fact, if you’re in a band, there’s no excuse that you haven’t played there already. I mean, it was literally our first gig, and we didn’t have any connections with anyone. Granted it was a Sunday and a crappy time slot, but what would you rather have? A decent time slot at a bar on a thursday for your first gig, or play at the Stone fucking Pony?
TLN: The Collective Man live show, what is something unique that you bring to every show? What do you want the audience to experience when they see you live?
CM: We want the audience to leave the venue asking themselves why they haven’t already heard of us. That’s really the bottom line. We throw covers in by Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Modest Mouse, we even do the Ghostbusters theme from time to time. Some of our songs, like St. Bastard, have extended sections when we play live, which are 90% jammed. Those little moments give each of us an opportunity to play in ways we normally don’t, and to put on a show that is 100% unique to that room.
TLN: What bands have Collective Man been listening to recently, any local bands we should check out?
CM: Local bands and close friends: Stereo Jo, The Aristocants.
TLN: What is Collective Man looking forward to the most in 2017?
CM: The recording and release of our second album! Touring in support of that album. Uhmm. Psychedelic drug use? That, and it’s the last full year Chris Christie will be in office so that’s a plus.
TLN: Any parting words of wisdom for The Latest Noise audience?
CM: Always move forward and evolve.