Man Overboard

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.

You’re missing a band member tonight; can you explain what’s 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 don’t 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 wasn’t the case, so he had to go back to Philly and is flying here tomorrow morning. I don’t know what we’re doing tonight; we’re just going to wing it.

You’ve 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, "We’re 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 couldn’t 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 you’ve really started to make a name for yourself, have you found that?
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s 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 don’t know, but we pretty much got kicked out of the venue and we ended up having a show at this girl’s 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, it’s 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 wasn’t 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, you’re going to shit your pants right now… I just told the guard what band I’m in and he was like,"‘Oh, for real?!’" The guard at the Toronto airport prison had heard of Man Overboard! I don’t 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? It’s not like I’m actively out with my AK-47 defending pop-punk, but I guess there’s a lot of shitty bands out there that play music, so I guess it’s a call for bands to make honest music, but at the end of the day, I don’t really care what other bands are doing. It’s kind of whatever you want to take from it. I don’t want to be the person to tell other people what to do; it’s up to you. I’m not the person to tell you want to like and what you can’t like. It’s cool that there’s a group on Facebook and the website, and it kind of brings kids together online and show each other new music, so that’s the coolest part, how it’s made it’s 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 ‘proper’ pop-punk?
That’s the thing, there’s always people online that are like, "You guys are lame as fuck, listen to Screeching Weasel." It’s like, "Yeah, dude, I’ve 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.

I’ve 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 don’t like it, then you don’t have to listen to it, you know?

I’ve noticed that they’re mainly based on girls, have you had a lot of relationship turmoil?
Zac and Nick write the lyrics, but mainly Zac, and I’ve known Zac since we were like 10-years-old and he definitely has, so he’s got a lot of fodder for songs.

Weren’t you in The Effort for a while? That’s 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,"‘Oh, you play in a hardcore band, you must just listen to hardcore all the time." but I listen to all kinds of shit. It’s 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 it’s actually cool. There’s definitely bands before that whole thing came out that I think are really good, like there’s 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 wasn’t really a good scene. They did well, they wrote an awesome record that was supposed to come out on Abacus - I don’t 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, it’s 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 don’t 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 they’re real good friends of theirs. I don’t know what the girl asked, but I think he thought that she asked like, "Do guys write songs to sound like Fireworks?’ And he was pissed like, "I don’t listen to that band, what the fuck?’ But Tymm, their drummer, is actually here, he’s playing drums for Polar Bear Club.

Do you think there’s kind of an oversaturation of all these pop-punk bands?
There definitely is a lot of bands, but I think it’s 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 there’s 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 it’s cool.

It seems that Man Overboard releases a new record every other week, what’s up with that?
[laughs] Yeah, I don’t 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 don’t 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 they’re out for a bit, we put them on Human Highlight Reel and there’s a new bonus track on the new Rise record, so I’m sure that’ll come out somewhere on a 7" or something, who knows? We always just do shit, it’s 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 don’t 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 I’d 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 it’s 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 they’re either in Philly, Toronto or London, so I’ve been on my phone all day trying to figure out. I’ll 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 Zac’s old band’s first record, but nobody liked that record, because we weren’t very good and nobody liked the label because we weren’t 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. It’s just kind of another thing that I’m 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.
That’s the thing, people think it’s really weird and I agree, it’s not like the most normal thing, but I think it’s just another thing to collect and it’s relatively cheap to do and sell. You can sell a tape for 4-6 bucks, which is probably around £3-£5. I’ve 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. It’s 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 page, and all the comments from your fans were really negative about it.
Yeah, I didn’t 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, I’m sure they have it figured out"’ 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!’ I thought that was funny. They have Transit, A Loss For Words, Hot Water Music and a bunch of other bands now, so it’s cool.

So, what’s next for Man Overboard?
We’re here until the beginning of August and then we’re doing an Australian tour at the end of August/beginning of September and then we’re doing a fall tour in America. We’ll not be back here until 2012, I don’t 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 that’s it.