Max Collins, of EVE 6 fame, has taken the plunge into Solo-Land. The long-time front man and guitarist has already spent half his life in the limelight with several highly regarded albums, international touring, and star studded grandeur most of us can only dream about. This time around, Max is placing his focus on the more intimate side of the musical spectrum.
Though still active with his platinum counterpart, now on Fearless Records, Max’s debut LP, Honey From The Ice Box, was released on May 6th, funded by yet another highly laudable example of PledgeMusic Campaigning. To get a taste, check out his latest video for “World On Fire,” courtesy of Nylon Guys.
I spoke with Max over the phone about the record, his very successful PledgeMusic campaigning, and what it was like making the switch to solo.
G- Hi Max and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
First and foremost, this was all funded through campaigning. How did you find your experience with campaigning, especially since you could have easily have had this picked up by just about anybody?
M- Yeah. it’s been really gratifying. I went into this totally green, not really having music business experience outside of the traditional kind of ‘scene.’ But it was sort of the first option that was presented to me, and it was kind of in keeping with the spirit of the record I made and what I’m doing right now, which is sort of following my whimsy. Expectations be damned and doing my art because I have to.
I was sort of blessed with a lack of foresight a little bit by just going into it. It sounded thrilling and it was until the page went up and the ticker started to go that I got a bit anxious, like ‘Will this work’ and ‘Will we reach our goal,’ but we did, thankfully, and beyond.
It’s just shown me the potency of a small but loyal audience, which I’m incredibly fortunate to have, who are sort of acting as my label and helping me get to new listeners in the process. So, it hasn’t only funded my record, but it’s funded the promotion of my record, it’s funded the videos I’ve made which are a big part of this record, and yeah… That’s a long winded answer for you, but it’s been awesome.
G- Excellent, and this started off as a side project, if I am correct? You and your buddy Brian Young, from Fountains of Wayne, was laying the grooves down in the studio… How did you find the back and forth process with him? Did you dive into everything on your own and tell him what to do? What was the collaboration like in the studio?
M- Yeah it was definitely collaborative. I wrote all of the songs over the course of a month, and I don’t normally write with that kind of frequency, but I guess there was something happening and I wrote a record’s worth of material. This was January 2013 and, you know, I happen to get a text from Brian because he’s always on the road. He’s with Jesus and Mary Chain now and always out with Fountains Of Wayne and this Spanish artist, so he’s always all over the world.
So, he sent me this text and says ‘I’m home… What are you up too,’ and it was just one of those fortuitous kind of things. So I sent him some iPhone recordings of demos, total overstatement, but just little live recordings of the songs, and he loved them and yeah… A couple of weeks later we were tracking at this place in LA called The Studio.
He’s one of the most soulful and creative drummers. We share a lot of the same influences, and drums are such an important, often unsung, task in a band, and I don’t know… Both the drumming, which is simple but really special in my opinion, and the percussion are very creative on this record. There is limited instrumentation on the record, and percussion is one of the integral sounds. We really embellished the songs with shakers and tambourines and shaky clacker things.
G- Well, what I want to touch on now is you said you had a lot of really crucial writing output in this short amount of time. The album is 10 tracks and, as you go over the titles of the songs, it seems like you’re looking for some sort of catharsis. Titles include “Push it Dow,” “Walking Away,” “This Lonely Life,” and “Laura Has No Sympathy,” which must have some sort of back story to it I would think.
What was your headspace during this process, and what was going through your mind where you had this burst of creativity in such a short period of time?
M- Yeah. Well, I spent most of 2012 on the road and, you know, I think that there is always an adjustment when you in that strange inertia and waking up in a new place everyday and playing everything, and it abruptly stops and you’re home. It’s like, for whatever reason, in the past I’ve gone on movie watching binges and such. But with this particular time, I was feeling like I had a lot to get out and I was reading a lot and waking up, making really strong coffee, and writing, and I was learning a lot of songs, as well, a bunch of Beatles songs and stuff. It was just a very creative time.
It was just a creative, inspired time. And as for the subject matter, I guess themes presented themselves to me after the fact, but some of the songs address starting something new and leaving something behind. It’s easy to draw certain lines. Each song is sort of in its own world. There’s a lot of narrative stuff where I’m singing as characters that are also me… I don’t know. When I talk about this stuff, I start to sound like an asshole. (laughter)
G- Nah not at all, man.
M- So yeah.
So with this PledgeMusic campaign, you had some wild incentive for your backers. You had airfare accommodated tattooing, super up-close full album cover, etc… How did you come up with the ideas, because it looks like you were having a very good time with them and you had a lot of things on there!
M- Yeah. Man, I just wanted to keep it strange and entertaining. It was just refreshing to do something different. You sort of get bored with the same outlet and the same protocol and there was an opportunity to do something different. Even the people that didn’t participate, I wanted them to see the page and chuckle or get something out of it. And if they did participate, I wanted it to be fun in a actual experiential little adventure.
So, we did that with the matching tattoo, which was awesome. And we have the trip to Medieval Times, and the ones you called out. So it’s been really fun!
G- Right on. Now, this record is being marketed and distributed via Frozen motion Records, but it was something you crowd funded yourself, which leads me to think that Frozen motion might be your own record label. If so, is this something that you’ll be diving into a bit more in the future?
M- Yeah it absolutely is. They were like ‘You should come up with a name for your label,’ but it’s totally a self-release. Frozen Motion was just the first thing that came to mind.
And yeah if I were ever to be in a position where I could offer assistance or resources to a songwriter or band that I thought were great, that’d be huge! But for now, I’m using it as a moniker for my own releases.
Now, obviously the campaign was successful and funded the record, and my friend kira made me ask this question, though I’m interested as well… What do you have in terms of tour dates coming up? Will you be promoting the album on the road in the near future or do you have anything in the works?
M- Yeah I hope to be doing some solo touring in the Fall. I have a booking agent who specializes in the solo thing called Resolution, and they’re awesome. I hope to have an opening slot with an artist that makes sense. That’d be ideal.
Of course, I have EVE6, but I’m not playing EVE6 material with this, so I really am a new artist and my goal is to try to get out in front of an artist to get familiar with me.
G- Dig it. We’re looking forward to that. And given the wealth of material you were able to come up with so quickly, I guess I have to ask if you’re working on anything else new right now, or are you just keeping this record nice and tight? How are you feeling about the solo experience overall, and what do you have in mind for the future, in addition to your EVE6 stuff?
M- Yeah. Right now, we just shot another video for “Push It Down,” the first video on the record, in Joshua Tree last weekend. I don’t know if you saw the videos for “Sports Bar” or “World On Fire,” but it stars the same Native American fellow named Francis, and this video is probably the strangest one yet. I’m really looking forward to getting it out there.
I’ve kinda been creatively putting my energy into the visual stuff, but when I get back from this Summer run of shows with EVE6, I plan on writing another one and doing the process all over again.
So I guess the last question I have for you today is about your successes past, present, and future. EVE6 has incredible merit and weight in the music world, but doing the solo thing is really like putting you in a more vulnerable position because it’s not familiar, and people have to like your voice and timbre to give it a shot. I think it sounds good and I think it’ll catch on very well, but even with all your experience, this is new for you and it takes time to build that up.
So, from your experience and for the kids out there who might be just starting to write songs, you’d be a great person to ask advice from, so what would/could you tell them to get going?
M- I think the most important thing is doing what brings you joy and following that; Trusting yourself and trusting your voice. I feel like, regardless of what you’re making, whatever artist you may be, you can’t go wrong if you’re doing that.
G- Right on. Well that’s what I’ve got for you today, and I want to say that I’m proud of your campaigning and record. You could’ve gotten this picked up by a label, but you went out and did it yourself and it worked out well! We’re looking forward to some Max Collins tour dates and we’re looking forward to your continued success.
Until then, keep doing what you’re doing and play well, travel safe, and looking forward to having you back in Syracuse, man!
M- I really appreciate it, Greg. Thanks so much for your time and support. It means a lot, man.
G- Absolutely. Looking forward to doing it again in the future.
M- You got it, buddy.