It's an hour before Man Overboard's set in Kingston, UK, and it's all a bit frantic for the self-proclaimed defenders of pop-punk, with a deported member and missing merch. Thankfully, though, guitarist Justin Collier still manages to spare some time with Punknews interviewer Faye Turnbull on the first night of their tour supporting Polar Bear Club.
Youâre missing a band member tonight; can you explain whatâs happened?
We have two lead singers, Nick and Zac, and Zac is not allowed in Canada, so when we got our connecting flight, which was in Canada, they told him he has to go back to America. I donât know why because you would think that if they wanted to get rid of him, they would just send him on to London to where we were heading, but that wasnât the case, so he had to go back to Philly and is flying here tomorrow morning. I donât know what weâre doing tonight; weâre just going to wing it.
Youâve been over here three times within the space of seven months, why is that?
We were going to come last summer, but we ended up touring with Fireworks in America, so we came in December with Transit and the day we were leaving, our friend from Senses Fail, Buddy, he called me and said, "Weâre going to the UK in February, you guys should come support us." So we were like, "Alright, yeah!" Touring with them was kind of cool, because it was to a lot of different people, lots of their fans and not-so many of our fans. Coming back again with Polar Bear Club, we couldnât tour America this summer because of the fall tour we have, so it was kind of the perfect thing.
This past year, it seems that youâve really started to make a name for yourself, have you found that?
Yeah, definitely. I think itâs weird when people know who we are, like we were supposed to play a show in New Jersey the other night and we got to the venue and it was double booked with some Creed-ish rock band playing. I guess they had booked them first, I donât know, but we pretty much got kicked out of the venue and we ended up having a show at this girlâs driveway. The cops came before we started, like the girl rang the cops to make sure it would be ok and they were cool with it, as long as no one got out of hand, but the one cop was like, "What band is it?" and my dad was like, "Oh, itâs Man Overboard." And the cop was like, "Oh, really?! I know them." So, that was weird. I mean, it was our home state, but it wasnât near where we lived or anything. Then when Zac was detained in Toronto, they have a jail cell in the airport and he was BBMing me, and he was like, "Dude, youâre going to shit your pants right now… I just told the guard what band Iâm in and he was like,"âOh, for real?!â" The guard at the Toronto airport prison had heard of Man Overboard! I donât know, just shit like that. I mean, coming here and having kids know us is cool, but shit like that is just so entertaining and funny.
So, your slogan, "defend pop-punk", is there a meaning behind it? Or is it just cool for t-shirts?
It started as a Most Precious Blood rip-off, just for a t-shirt, but kids got really into it and associate that with us now, so we kind of just rolled with it, you know? Itâs not like Iâm actively out with my AK-47 defending pop-punk, but I guess thereâs a lot of shitty bands out there that play music, so I guess itâs a call for bands to make honest music, but at the end of the day, I donât really care what other bands are doing. Itâs kind of whatever you want to take from it. I donât want to be the person to tell other people what to do; itâs up to you. Iâm not the person to tell you want to like and what you canât like. Itâs cool that thereâs a group on Facebook and the website, and it kind of brings kids together online and show each other new music, so thatâs the coolest part, how itâs made itâs own little community.
I know you do these pop-punk compilations of bands within your circle of friends, but what about these Ramones-core bands that people claim are âproperâ pop-punk?
Thatâs the thing, thereâs always people online that are like, "You guys are lame as fuck, listen to Screeching Weasel." Itâs like, "Yeah, dude, Iâve never heard of Screeching Weasel before, I live under a fucking rock," you know? Kids are always going to bitch about whatever you do. At the end of the day, none of us give a fuck about what people have to say about it.
Iâve heard a few people say your lyrics are a little bit cheesy, how do you feel about that?
I mean, they are, we sing about looking hot and smoking pot. If you donât like it, then you donât have to listen to it, you know?
Iâve noticed that theyâre mainly based on girls, have you had a lot of relationship turmoil?
Zac and Nick write the lyrics, but mainly Zac, and Iâve known Zac since we were like 10-years-old and he definitely has, so heâs got a lot of fodder for songs.
Werenât you in The Effort for a while? Thatâs quite a contrast, going from a hardcore band to a super poppy band.
Yeah. I was their drummer for a bit, I toured with them over here and then we went back, and I was just going to do merch, but then their drummer quit and I was already going and I played drums, so I did it and played drums for them just for a summer. We all listen to hardcore and all kinds of shit. I think people get pigeonholed all the time, like,"âOh, you play in a hardcore band, you must just listen to hardcore all the time." but I listen to all kinds of shit. Itâs not like everyone listens to the same thing, I think everyone has a pretty broad spectrum.
You seem to be apart of this emerging group of bands all from the same friendship circle, like Run For Cover and No Sleep, how do you feel to be apart of that?
I think itâs actually cool. Thereâs definitely bands before that whole thing came out that I think are really good, like thereâs this band from Philly called Arms of Orion and had they came out last year and were on Run For Cover when our shit came out and Transit, I think they would have been huge. But they came out in 2006 and there wasnât really a good scene. They did well, they wrote an awesome record that was supposed to come out on Abacus - I donât know what happened with that, but it just never came out - but that record is ten times better than some records that are out now, but not many people have heard it. So, itâs cool to be in a scene where bands support each other with good labels, and kids support the labels.
I saw another interview with you, I donât know which member it was, but he took offense to Man Overboard being compared with Fireworks.
[laughs] That was like one of the first interviews we ever did and theyâre real good friends of theirs. I donât know what the girl asked, but I think he thought that she asked like, "Do guys write songs to sound like Fireworks?â And he was pissed like, "I donât listen to that band, what the fuck?â But Tymm, their drummer, is actually here, heâs playing drums for Polar Bear Club.
Do you think thereâs kind of an oversaturation of all these pop-punk bands?
There definitely is a lot of bands, but I think itâs one of the things that leads to as many kids being into it now as there is, because any kid that is into this kind of music and has a guitar or a drum set or can sing or whatever can start a band, and thereâs a lot of shitty bands out there, but you have to have shitty bands to have good bands. There might be a lot of bands, but I still think itâs cool.
It seems that Man Overboard releases a new record every other week, whatâs up with that?
[laughs] Yeah, I donât know. We did like Before We Met: A Collection of Old Songs which was like an EP with new songs and that came out in February last year, which started it off, and then we wanted to do an acoustic EP, so we did that a couple months later, and we had done the Dahlia EP right before that, and then we had done Real Talk and then we did a Transit split and then The Absolute Worst 7", and then we did Human Highlight Reel and we have a new record coming out, so I donât know. We just have a lot of shit, I guess. Another thing is, we always record a lot of songs, like when we went to do Real Talk, we had 12 songs on the record, but had 18/19 in total. So, like, Adrian of City of Gold, who put it out over here, he got a different bonus track than what Run For Cover did and then there was a digital download version that got a different song and then there was a pre-order song, so we have all these songs that are floating around, so after theyâre out for a bit, we put them on Human Highlight Reel and thereâs a new bonus track on the new Rise record, so Iâm sure thatâll come out somewhere on a 7" or something, who knows? We always just do shit, itâs cool to give kids something to collect and buy if they want to buy it.
When I emailed you the other day about this interview, you said you manage Basement, how did that come about?
I put out their 7" on my label, Lost Tape Collective. I just heard of them from somebody, I donât even know who, but I liked the band and I put out their 7", started talking to them and played shows with them in December. Alex came over last summer and toured with us doing merch, he stayed in my house for a couple of weeks and became buds with him, so Iâd try to tell them what to do with their band and give them ideas. It seemed that they needed someone to help them out and I was interested in helping them out, so we just went with it and itâs been going good so far.
Being transatlantic, how does that work?
I bring my BlackBerry everywhere I go, like we have two bags of merch missing, because of Zac being deported from Canada, so theyâre either in Philly, Toronto or London, so Iâve been on my phone all day trying to figure out. Iâll probably have some outrageous phone bill by now.
Speaking of your label, Lost Tape Collective, why did you decide to set that up?
I always wanted to do a label. I started a label a long time ago to do mine and Zacâs old bandâs first record, but nobody liked that record, because we werenât very good and nobody liked the label because we werenât very good. It was cool to start a label where kids who were into us could get into it and we could give back to them by giving them other bands and shit to collect, like tapes or whatever. Itâs just kind of another thing that Iâm interested in that I think people who might like us will be interested in, I hope.
What is it with the revival of tapes? Is it a novelty thing? Because the sound quality is generally poor.
Thatâs the thing, people think itâs really weird and I agree, itâs not like the most normal thing, but I think itâs just another thing to collect and itâs relatively cheap to do and sell. You can sell a tape for 4-6 bucks, which is probably around Â£3-Â£5. Iâve started to do them on different colors, like different colors for each press and shit like that. I just like doing stuff that people can collect, I like to do things that I would buy, because I feel like when I make t-shirts designs - anything that I would wear, nobody else would wear - we always have weird colors and shit. So, I like doing tapes, because I can pick bands and tape colors and layouts and whatever that I like. Itâs just fun to put together and fun to release; I get a kick out of it.
You signed to Rise Records late last year and I was looking at your Last.fm page, and all the comments from your fans were really negative about it.
Yeah, I didnât read a whole lot what people wrote, we were kind of worried about how our fans were going to take it and I feel like, generally, they were like, "Whatever, Iâm sure they have it figured out"â But I thought the funniest thing was the metal kids that like Attack Attack! were like, "What the fuck?! Rise has signed this really gay band!â I thought that was funny. They have Transit, A Loss For Words, Hot Water Music and a bunch of other bands now, so itâs cool.
So, whatâs next for Man Overboard?
Weâre here until the beginning of August and then weâre doing an Australian tour at the end of August/beginning of September and then weâre doing a fall tour in America. Weâll not be back here until 2012, I donât want to play here too much and make everyone sick of us.
Is there anything else you want to say?
Thanks for reading and thanks for listening to us if you like us, I guess thatâs it.