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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Max Collins Finds His ‘Honey’
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Eve 6 frontman Max Collins is going to have an incredibly busy summer. Not only is he hitting the road with his band as part of the Summerland Tour, with Everclear, Soul Asylum, and Spacehog, he’ll also be promoting his new solo effort, Honey From The Icebox.

Honey From The Icebox, which was released earlier this month, is a fan funded album. Collins used PledgeMusic, and an array of creative backer rewards, including getting matching tattoos, to make the project a reality.

Sporting his new backer reward tattoo, Collins sat down with us at me to talk about about his ink, including which tattoo he’d love to get removed, and why he felt the songs on Honey From The Icebox wouldn’t work for an Eve 6 album. Collins also went in depth about the time he ended up spending a night in a Pennsylvania correctional facility, and what it was like chopping his own head off for the video for Honey From The Icebox’s lead single, “Sports Bar.”

Adam Bernard: You funded your just released solo effort, Honey From The Icebox, via PledgeMusic. The reaction to your campaign, it didn’t just hit its goal, it significantly exceeded it (earning 134% of its goal). Did that reaction surprise you at all?

Max Collins: Yeah, very pleasantly. It’s funny, I wrote all these songs in the span of like a month, and I’m like, “I have a record’s worth of songs, what am I gonna do? It feels like this isn’t an Eve 6 record. OK, it’s time to do the solo record thing. How am I gonna do it?” So I enlisted talented, awesome people that I know to help me make it, and we recorded it in like three weeks. So I had a record, it wasn’t mixed yet, but it was, for all intents and purposes, finished, and I didn’t have a game plan beyond that. When the PledgeMusic thing came up it was the first good option that I’d been presented with, and I thought maybe this could work. I didn’t start getting nervous about it until the page was up and I saw the little bar that needed to grow to the 100% mark in order for this to work. Then I was like oh fuck, I hope this happens.

Adam Bernard: Were you checking it every hour like a crazy stock trader checks the ticker?

Max Collins: Yeah, I was compulsively checking it like a crazy stock trader. I totally was. It was probably kind of unhealthy, but it was still kind of thrilling. It was like oh wow, people are doing this, and it’s happening. Then we hit the mark and then it kept going. It was humbling, and awesome, and has given me a new perspective on my listenership, my audience, who is now my label. They made this record with me. The potency of a small, but loyal, audience, has been proven, and I’m so grateful for it.

Adam Bernard: You also had some really cool backer rewards. How much have you been enjoying playing mini golf, going to Medieval Times, and getting inked with your fans?

Max Collins: It’s been really fun, and I’ve been doing a lot of these Skype interviews, the 20 questions interviews, and I’m so impressed with my fans. The first one I did was with two PhDs. Just fascinating people asking really thoughtful questions. The next one was this comedy writer who lives out in LA now. It’s been a pleasure doing those things. The tattoo was awesome. This girl, Patti, who’s been a longtime fan, and comes to a lot of shows, I know her, she’s great, we did that together, and that was a lot of fun. I just wanted (the rewards) to be strange, and wonderful, and not boring.

Adam Bernard: What’s the tattoo of, and where is it?

Max Collins: It’s a half of an apple. It’s on my right wrist just above my hand, and she got the same thing on the underside of her wrist. We both happened to have read this novel called The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin, and we both loved it, so it’s sort of a symbol from that book.

Adam Bernard: Very cool. I also noticed for that reward you had the right of refusal in case someone picked something horrible.

Max Collins: Yeah, if someone wanted to get a Tasmanian Devil on the small of our backs, I would be able to exercise veto power.

Adam Bernard: No butterflies behind the neck.

Max Collins: No butterflies behind the neck. I have enough unfortunate tattoos, I don’t need a new one.

Adam Bernard: Is there any one in particular where if you were to ever endure laser surgery it would be for that one?

Max Collins: Yeah, on my neck, the kanji, it says “courage.” I got it drunkenly in Pittsburgh one night. I don’t know, is it legal to give tattoos to people who are like belligerently, blindly, drunk? I guess it must be.

Adam Bernard: I think there has to be some sort of code of ethics.

Max Collins: You would think. Then again, tattoos wouldn’t be nearly as ubiquitous if that were standard operating procedure. None the less, this guy put it on me, and I was so embarrassed by it that when people asked me what it meant I told them that it meant “just for the taste of it, Diet Coke,” which isn’t their slogan anymore. It’s just so embarrassing, but it’s on my neck, and I got it with an ex-girlfriend, so my wife hates it.

Adam Bernard: The cool thing about the Japanese language, though, is sometimes adding a line or two somewhere can totally change the meaning of a character.

Max Collins: Oh, I know that because the other kanji character I have, it was advertised as meaning “truth,” (but) I found out from a Japanese person at a Mexican restaurant that it actually means “fruit.”

Adam Bernard: {Laughs} What an odd set of circumstances. It was at a Mexican restaurant where you found out what your Japanese character meant.

Max Collins: Oh I always include that part. That's my favorite part. I actually got the apple right underneath the thing that says fruit, so that’s kind of appropriate.

Adam Bernard: Moving from ink to music, you mentioned you had all of these songs, and it didn’t feel like an Eve 6 type of album. What do you feel are the biggest differences between your work as a solo artist, and your work as the frontman of Eve 6, that would make something for you rather than for the band?

Max Collins: I guess the best way I could say it, and maybe this will help me get to an answer, is I couldn’t imagine big power chords over these songs, they just have a different spirit to them. There’s probably more of my actual influences coming through than came through in Eve 6. There’s a little bit of country. I’m a big Steve Earle fan. I love how Evan Dando does country music with a sort of sense of humor, but there’s also a sadness about it. I guess it was just some intangible thing about the songs. It was just like, OK, this is for me to do, follow my whimsey with it. Expectations, and whatever, be damned, and I don’t want to change stuff, I just want it to be the way that I hear it.

I was listening to KCRW out here one day, and I heard this song, and it was really good. I was driving, so I couldn't get to my Shazam. I don’t even know if I heard the song again, but it was like acoustic guitar, there was some piano, there were drums, bass, and everything sounded really good. It didn’t sound like it was trying to sound bad. It didn’t sound like a lot of these indie rock records sound. It sounded unabashedly, unapologetically, sonically good, and I thought, “Huh, this is moving me right now, and I could kind of hear my stuff working in this context.”

Adam Bernard: Would you say you’re almost more, for lack of a better term, folk oriented, and Eve 6 brings out your inner rock star?

Max Collins: I don’t know. I feel like Eve 6 started cuz we were, back then, really moved by Screeching Weasel, and the like. Some radio rock of the time got in, of course, to the influence list.

I’m listening right now to the Beatles Revolver kinda non-stop. I love The Dandy Warhols, they’re one of my favorite bands. I feel like some of that influence comes through on Honey, and The Lemonheads, certainly an acoustic guitar cornerstone, but it doesn’t sound like boring singer-songwriter stuff, it sounds spirited, and it sounds like there’s a little bit of fuck you in there. I identify with that attitude. Folk? I don’t know, because I don’t really listen to other things that you would maybe consider folk music, but I feel really comfortable with the acoustic guitar, I feel like it’s the most appropriate canvas, for lack of a better term, for my voice, and whatever the stories are that I tell.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of those stories, after watching that video for “Sports Bar” I have to ask, what in the hell kind of sports bars do you hang out in!?!

Max Collins: {laughs} Well, I’m not a sports fan. I've never gotten sports. I get the communal aspect, and I wish I did get sports. I’m not saying this from a perspective of “I’m too cool for them.” I wish I was cooler. I wish I had more of an attention span because I feel like I’m missing something in my life because I’m not able to share these events with people. I just don't have the interest, I don’t have that innate interest. So sports bars have always been, as a result, like I was saying before, the funny-sad juxtaposition, they’ve always been kind of funny-sad places to me. These places where people go to congregate and stare at screens, and everyone is kind of looking at a different screen, but it’s sort of like you’re there together, but then you’re not.

Anyway, the song is more about being demoralized by a glance from someone, and feeling this sense of shame, and being afraid to call someone out. The song, to me, is more about that moment, than it is about a sports bar, so with the video I wanted to have there not be anything related to sports about it. I just wanted it to be... I don’t know, like a nightmare, kinda.

Adam Bernard: It certainly is, and you have some great Tokyo gore type of effects with heads getting blown off, and blood everywhere.

Max Collins: That’s actually full on, old school, movie bloodletting. We got these CO2 canisters and filled them with blood, and had a couple guys hanging out ready to squeeze the thing, and I actually chopped my own head off. There was a dummy that had a head on it that looked like me that the director, Thad Bridwell, then replaced with my actual face. It was a one shot type of thing, and my brother, who played the retarded looking polar bear in the video who has the ax, he was afraid if he went for it, and missed my head, the blood gets everywhere and we can’t shoot it again. He was like, “Fuck, it’s gonna be my fault if I fuck this up,” so I was like alright, I'm putting the money into this thing, it’s my thing, if anyone screws this up it should be me, so I took the ax to my own head in a very surreal, existential moment, and managed to connect.

Adam Bernard: You should have nightmares about that.

Max Collins: Yeah, I should, or maybe I should have nightmares about the fact that I don’t have nightmares about it. Maybe I should be profoundly disturbed by the fact that I wasn’t that disturbed by it.

Adam Bernard: Moving from the “Sports Bar” to the road, Eve 6 will be touring this summer as a part of the Summerland Tour. Are you going to break out your solo songs at all during your set?

Max Collins: Well, I’m doing a triple-A (Adult Album Alternative) radio campaign with, I think, “Sports Bar,” that’s gonna start very soon, so what I plan to do is hit up radio stations along the way with my guitar, and go in and maybe play a new song or two, and do little interviews and things as we go through those cities. No one who’s going to this tour wants to hear my solo stuff, they’re going to hear Eve 6 songs, and I’m sort of keeping the two separate. I do plan on doing a solo tour in the fall.

Adam Bernard: The Summerland Tour followed by a solo tour? With that kind of schedule, when are you ever going to be at home?

Max Collins: That’s a good question, and I do have a new baby at home, so that does complicate matters, but I’ve been home a lot. Eve 6, for the most part, averages one or two shows a month, and the tour that I do in the fall will likely be a couple weeks, or something like that. I’m hoping to get a good opening slot with a band whose audience it makes sense for me to be in front of. It’s not like the old days where I’d go out for 18 months, come back for a week around Christmas, and go back out. It’s easier than that.

Adam Bernard: Since we’re on the topic of tours, let’s get into some Eve 6 tour history. What’s the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve experienced while on the road?

Max Collins: Probably getting arrested in Pittsburgh, and having to spend the night at Allegheny County Jail.

Adam Bernard: What did you do to get in trouble?

Max Collins: I went down to the front desk of the hotel that we were staying at, naked, and I asked them if they had shaving cream and a razor, and they said yeah ... or no, sorry, I didn’t ask for the razor the first time, just the shaving cream. I went up to my room, applied the shaving cream to my genital area, walked back down, asked if they had a razor, and they said, “You need to go back to your room, sir,” and I didn’t. I just kept walking around. I sat at the piano for a bit. I eventually went back to my room, and I’m taking a shower, washing the shaving cream off of me, and the next thing I know there’s a loud knock on the door. There were a couple burly Pittsburgh police officers there, and they cuffed me, and they took me in, and because it’s a commonwealth state anything resembling a sexual deviancy is really frowned upon. If it wasn’t for one of the guards, or someone at the prison’s, daughter being at the show that we played I would have been in for a week waiting to see the prison psychologist to make sure I wasn’t a threat to myself, or others. I was strip searched. It was fucking crazy. I had the orange jump suit, and they didn’t put me in like a quaint little thing.

Adam Bernard: They put you in gen-pop?

Max Collins: (They put me) in gen-pop. I shared a cigarette with this guy in his cell, even though it’s a no smoking thing, that he lit with two batteries and a safety pin. Just like crazy memories. It feels like a dream now. That would definitely be at the top of any crazy tour list thing.

Adam Bernard: It’s a good thing you had MacGyver in the cell.

Max Collins: Yeah dude, he was scary.

Adam Bernard: Well, if you’ve taught yourself how to light a cigarette with batteries and a safety pin you’ve probably been in that situation a few times.

Max Collins: Yes, you’re no stranger to gen-pop.

Adam Bernard: Finally, are you aware there’s another Max Collins who happens to be a smokin hot model and actress?

Max Collins: Oh yeah. Yeah, I've Googled me before, and I think she comes up first now. She’s somethin, isn’t she?

Adam Bernard: I know one of your backer rewards was to have someone’s face as your album cover. Why not get Max Collins to be on it?

Max Collins: Yeah dude, or what if I make a record with her, like a She & Him type thing, a duets type thing? Max Collins featuring Max Collins.

Adam Bernard: Max Collins Squared. Make it happen.

Max Collins: Max Collins Squared. She’s probably a singer, too. I mean, if I were a betting man.

Adam Bernard: All I know is, if the other Max Collins ever showed up naked at a hotel’s front desk asking for shaving cream and a razor she’d have a line waiting for her.

Max Collins: Oh yeah. That would be a totally different scene. There would be no punitive measures taken. I can assure you.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:42 PM  
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