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original site launched April 1, 2004, .com relaunched October 1, 2004
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New York’s screamy pop wonder on the road
by Leanda Quinquet
Brooklyn based Oxford Collapse are full of boundless energy and spunk. To see these guys live is really something else, the three member group sound like ten when playing--writhing, kicking, screaming and performing schizophrenic, punchy, tight pop songs with passion, and an unrelenting power.
Over the past 6 years they have released three records. Some Wilderness (2004) and A Good Ground (2005) came first, released on Kanine records, the original home of fellow successful BK band, Grizzly Bear, who have gone on to sign to Warp Records. New York’s Kanine seems to be a launching pad for artists who swiftly move on and sign to a major. In 2006 it was Oxford Collapse’s time to leave the Kanine nest, they signed to Sub Pop Records, and subsequently released their latest offering Remember the Night Parties, a riotous collection of guitar-driven, heavy, hook-laden pop songs.
I caught up with one of the band's singers and guitarist Michael Pace, before a show in Toronto, during the East Coast leg of the bands tour to support their new release.
Leanda Quinquet: How’s the tour going?
Mike Pace: Tours been going very good, we’ve been in the Arctic North East. We were just in North Adams, Massachusetts, which was the first show, playing a loft. We slept on the floor which was great. We had this bottle of seltzer in the van which froze. It’s still frozen in there! Then we were in Portland, Maine and it was -1 degree Fahrenheit. But we went to the LL Bean outlet and got some sweaters, which we then promptly left at the club, of course!
L: Are you serious?!!
M: Yeah, but they’re sending them to us later on in the tour, when we’re in Kansas. We were in Montreal last night, which was a very good time, and now we’re in Toronto. We’ve got another two weeks.
L: On the road…
M: Another two weeks on the road, with Thunder Birds Are Now! from Detroit.
L: Cool! So, you’re based in New York, did you all meet there?
M: Yeah… I’m from Long Island originally, Dan our drummer is from Connecticut and Adam our bass player's from Ohio. Dan and I went to school; we went to NYU together and formed the band towards the very end of college. Adam had moved to New York from Ohio, and was playing in another band that we used to play with. Then his band broke up, we needed a bass player at the time so he joined us. We now all live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, not in the same house or anything, but within a mile of each other. It’s very convenient.
L: Where did the bands name come from, Oxford Collapse?
M: The name came from when I was studying in London. It was junior year of college, Dan our drummer was also studying there, but a semester before me, he was actually my nemesis in college; it was only until the very end that we actually joined forces, but the dorm that we lived in was off of Oxford Street.
L: Ahhh, I see!
M: Yes, when you’re an idealistic college student and your studying socialism and all that kind of leftist stuff, what more would you rather see then the collapse of Oxford Street, the capitalist centre of London. So we of course, promptly dropped any political agenda or innuendo almost immediately, and have regretted the name ever since.
L: No you haven’t!
M: Nah…we’re living with it!
L: So tell us about the record, where was it recorded and who produced it?
M: The new record was recorded at a studio called Headgear in Brooklyn, with the mastermind John Agnello. He’s an amazing, experienced pro; he’s worked with Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, more recently he did the new Hold Steady record. He is a fantastic dirty old man to work with, and we had a blast! It was our first time working with a producer, quote, un-quote and he just got these great sounds, he made a lot of great suggestions, gave us some really good advice and we just had a blast working with him.
L: Cool…after the tour what’s the story? Will you be doing more recording?
M: We’re going to be touring on and off for the next thousand years, and the ideal plan is to, whenever we’re home and practicing, we get a bit bored playing the old stuff, so we write and test that stuff out whilst we’re on tour. The plan would be to go in and start recording this coming fall, for our disastrous double LP…
L: Oh really?!!
M: Yes, the difficult fourth album which should come out sometime in 2008.
L: So, you’re really planning ahead!
M: Oh yeah! We’re trying to get as much mileage out of this shit as possible!
L: You signed to Sub Pop, how did you hook up with them?
M: Sub Pop actually found us, kind of out of the blue, which was shocking to us. We had done two records with Kanine, a label from New York, so we were done with them and we had no label. So even when we were compiling lists of labels, Sub Pop wasn’t even a realistic choice for us, we felt… we weren’t even going to bother!
L: It makes sense to me!
M: Thank you (laughs)…we were thinking save the CD and stamp…then they got in contact with us and they were asking, so what’s the deal with your old label? What are you working on? So it’s the kind of thing when Sub Pop comes knocking on your door, it’s kind of hard to play it cool, especially when there aren’t other people knocking at your door! So we were like, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity.
L: For sure! So who does the majority of the writing for the band?
M: The writing is pretty much totally a democratic thing, all three of us write and things basically come out of jamming together, playing. We’ll come up with some structures and we’ll re-arrange, and edit, and turn things inside out. Everyone has their hand in everyone else’s pot, so to speak…
L: Ha! Pocket…
M: Or pocket! That’s how we write our songs….yeah! It’s really a democratic thing, even down to lyrics and stuff like that. Everyone contributes.
L: What can people expect when they go to an Oxford Collapse show?
M: Tittering on the brink of disaster, but ideally holding it together on a very thin thread of fun times!
L: Good stuff! Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
M: Well, if you guys have internet connectivity, there is a website, www.oxfordcollapse.com and we’ve recently heard about this thing called MySpace. So we’re trying that out, so there’s a MySpace page available, and an assortment of other erotic, adult sites that we’re linked to as well…
L: Ha!!! Alright!! Thanks for chatting and good luck with the rest of the tour Mike.
M: Thank you!
More on Oxford Collapse: www.oxfordcollapse.com / www.myspace.com/theoxfordcollapse.