By: Libby Freeman
Paul Collins has been busy. He will be kicking off a U.S. tour in July, recently introduced The Beat Army, and still found the time to chat with Punk Globe about his musical years, upcoming tour, what exactly The Beat Army is, and a whole lot of in between. Hope you all dig the interview, cheers!
Punk Globe: Thanks a heap for taking the time to do this interview, Paul. Could you give the readers a bio of your early life?
Paul Collins: I traveled around a lot as a kid, my mom was an artist ans she took me and my brother and my two sisters all over the world.We went from Douglaston Long Island to Vietnam in one jump and I never looked back! I got hooked on rock n roll when I heard Big Girls Don't Cry in a Vietnamese taxi cab and I knew I wanted to be in a rock band when I saw The Beatles fly overhead when I was living in Greece!
Punk Globe: What about musical influences?
Paul Collins: My earliest influences were from my dad, Hank Williams and Ray Charles then later it was WABC radio in NY.
Punk Globe: Can you tell us about your first band, The Nerves? How did you all get together?
Paul Collins: I met Jack Lee on the 3rd day I was in San Francisco, I had come to California to find a rock band. I went into Don Wier's Music City on Columbus Street in North Beach and there was a little 3X5 index card that said "Wanted drummer for all original band ala The Beatles and The Stones" the rest as they say is history!
Punk Globe: Any fun tour stories from the early days?
Paul Collins: Millions but suffice it to say we had a blast working our asses off! We would rehearse all day, we were flat broke, always hungry, we knew nobody we would hang around the streets with nothing to do, steal clothes out of the Good Will Box and then sell them to second hand clothes stores to get money to eat and do anything under the sun to get gigs which were usually a disaster!
Punk Globe: What musical projects did you work on in between The Nerves and The Beat?
Paul Collins: The Breakaways was the in between band that Peter and I had before we went our separate ways. I am so very happy and proud that some 30 years later the band gets its debut release...can you believe it! It just goes to show you! Some strange shit goes down in rock n Ginger will tell you!
Punk Globe: The Breakaways is an interesting band name. What was the inspiration for this name?
Paul Collins: Well I think we were both pretty devastated about the break up of The Nerves, for me it was a pretty big deal, I really thought that that band was going to go all the way, I just couldn't understand why we couldn't get any where, why no record companies would sign us, we couldn't get a manager or anything so The Breakaways was our way of maintaining our link to The Nerves, it kept The Nerves in the picture in a weird way.
Punk Globe: Can you explain how The Breakaways segued into The Beat? Was there any particular moment that separated one project from the other?
Paul Collins: Well one day Peter said.."you know man I think I wanna go and do my own thing now....and that was it...I was pretty uptight about it, I didn't have a clue as to how I would be able to continue on in LA with out knowing hardly anyone and no good musicians to play with, it was after all a town without pity, still is as far as I can see....
Punk Globe: I hear there were some pretty odd reactions from venue holders when The Beat first started playing...Could you explain this?
Paul Collins: Not sure its the Beat you are referring to, when I started The Beat with Steve Huff things went very fast compared to the way they had been going, in about a years time we were signed to Columbia Records the worlds biggest label and we were managed by Bill Graham the biggest manager in America! As you could imagine our heads were spinning!
Punk Globe: You have such a vast musical history, having worked w/ so many different musicians. Can you fill the readers in on all of your projects and releases?
Paul Collins: Libby that would take a lot of ink, fortunately the readers can go to my web site and they can google me and get more info on me then I even know, I will say that I have been blessed with the good fortune to play music all my life and I am still here and I am still rocking! In a nut shell my bands have been The Nerves, The Breakaways, The Beat, The Paul Collins Beat(had to change the name because of the English Beat) The Paul Collins Band(the transitional years) then just Paul Collins(me) and then last but not least back to basics with The Paul Collins Beat doing what I do best power pop rock n roll!
Punk Globe: I understand you moved to Spain after 9-11...Was there any particular reason for this?
Paul Collins: Yes I had a kid I was married to a Spanish woman from Madrid and it was time to get out of dodge! For my kids sake I am glad I did, I now live back in NY but I hear all kinds of nightmare stories about people who got terrible lung problems from breathing all that shit in. It was the heaviest day of my life and I was glad in a strange way to have been here and witnessed it, then I moved to Madrid and they bombed Atocha Station!
Punk Globe: Can you tell the readers about your solo acoustic years in Spain?
Paul Collins: They were great they used to call me the man with 2 guitars because I would get such a big sound going as I play the shit out of my guitar, it was fun and I learned a lot about performing.
Punk Globe: What made you decide to go acoustic?
Paul Collins: I was simple I didn't have a band and there was no way I could get one, plus a good friend of mine in Spain said he could get me a whole bunch of shows that would pay me good money and it was easy as pie to do it!
Punk Globe: I have a lot of appreciation for "Flying High"...Can you tell the readers a bit of the histories surrounding this recording? Is there any song/songs you consider to be a personal opus?
Paul Collins: This was a pivotal record for me, I had not made a record for almost 12 years which in this business is an eternity, I needed to prove to my fans and the world and myself that I still had the goods. So instead of doing what we would always do...try and get the big rock production sound which is damn near impossible to get especially when you have no money, I decided to record the record in my living room with a stripped down simple sound letting the songs speak for themselves, just 4 guys who really love to play this music having fun while they do it. And we got it, that record has some very beautiful magical moments, it is light and airy and it makes its point in a very nice way and it proved for me and my fans that Paul Collins was not washed up...I am very proud of it!
Punk Globe: The last time you spoke w/ Punk Globe, you were heading out on the West Coast 2009 tour w/ The Avengers and Pansy Division...Could you tell us how that tour went?
Paul Collins: That was another pivotal moment as I had not played the west coast in some 10 years and I really had no idea of people would remember us or not! It was the perfect tour to be on because The Avengers and Pansy Division were so sweet with us and we all became such good friends on the tour that on the last night in LA we were all practically in tears! Gregg from the Avengers summed it up best when he said..."Shit man we are just getting warmed up!"
Punk Globe: How was it playing w/ The Avengers? Any fun tour and or stage stories?
Paul Collins: The tour was great, all the bands really bonded together there was no rock bull shit Penelope is a gracious warm woman who treats people with a lot of dignity...sure there was a lot of high jinx especially with those rascals in the Pansy Division...Chris a sweetheart and a real cut up and it was so much fun to watch them go through their show every night! The all time best was when we played Medford,Oregon and the opening act from the night before in Portland called and said they would be there in an hour and then they never showed up, our set was fine as soon as Pansy Division hit the stage the power started to go on and off so much so that it wrecked their show, then it came back on for The Avengers and we all made something like $70...Penelope said well at least we got gas money!
Punk Globe: I noticed you have some upcoming tour dates lined up w/ The Peter Case Band...Are you stoked? How long has it been since you shared a stage?
Paul Collins: Actually I played McCabes last year with my good friend John Wicks and Peter did jump up for a few songs and it was great, but this will be the second time since we were in The Nerves that we will have played together! The Beat and The Plimsouls only did one show together at The Country Club in Los Angeles back in the 80's, so yes I am very happy we will be sharing the stage again.
Punk Globe: Can you give the readers the haps on all upcoming tour dates and venues?
Paul Collins: Wow yes! We have a ton of shows this summer! The BEAT ARMY has proved to be the best way to put together shows. I will give you the whole list of dates as it stands now but I am sure by the time this comes out there will be even more. The great thing about the BEAT ARMY tours is that we will be working with local bands from all over, some that have been around for awhile and some that are brand new, so it will always be interesting and we will make a lot of new friends.
Punk Globe:What is the current line up looking like?
Paul Collins: The line up is a couple of different ones, for example on the first tour we are doing in the South my guitarist Eric Blakley and I will play with the bassist and drummer of Thee HypnoticChickens, Paul Tucker the bass player for the chickens set up the whole tour and it is going to be a blast, we will be playing with Peter's new band which features DJ Bonebreaker from X Then my rhythm section from Madrid Juancho, bass and Chris drums will come and join me and Eric for the rest of the tours. They were with me on the last west coast tour last September so they already have lots of friends here and Chris is from Milwaukee so he will be happy to be playing his hometown!
Punk Globe: Can you tell the readers a bit about The King of Power Pop?
Paul Collins: Yes, again this was an important record for me, after making Flying High, to show I still had what it take and then Ribbon of Gold which was the perfect 1 2 punch with it s big production and big rock sound it was time for the knock out punch, the record that really nailed it and defined what the Paul Collins sound really is, and thanks to the rock n roll gods above and all the talented musicians I worked with on this record we did it! That's why I call it the King of Power Pop, and I feel the record lives up tot the title in every way and I know that I am taking a big risk here but I am ready for it, this record delivers and it also connects the dots for me from the Nerves to the Beat to the Paul Collins Beat, this shows the transition and it defines what I am all about as a musician, a singer and a song writer and most importantly as a rocker!
Punk Globe: Seems like power pop has been making a resurgence lately...Any thoughts on this?
Paul Collins: Yes that is why I made this record because power pop has come back and I am a big part of it, I have been playing this music now for 35 years!
Punk Globe: I have been hearing quite a bit about The Beat Army...Can you fill the readers in on the history, how and why The Beat Army got started?
Paul Collins: Well its funny, they say necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case it's true! I was talking to my record company who are dear friends of mine and I love them to bits, but they were telling me how bad things were for this kind of music and with down loads and lack of interest and very few retail outlets for these kinds of records that I should not get my hopes up as far as sales go, because as with every record I have ever made since The Nerves 45 back in 74 my attitude is always the same...hey man we are going to sell millions of copies with this record! When I got off the phone I said to myself, and excuse my French here, "Fuck this shit! There is no way I am going to take this lying down!" And that's when I started The BEAT ARMY and in 3 short months we have almost 2000 members and we have booked some 4 tours all across the country and Canada and this is only the beginning! I found that there are tons of people out there willing to support this kind of music its just that no one has tried to organize them in this way. Now we have a forum for fans, bands, clubs, online radio stations, record stores and anything else that has to do with this genre of music so people can cross pollinate and things can happen. I am so proud of our tours, they are booked by bands from the ares where we will be playing, we travel with them, we stay with them and we share what we have with them, it is fantastic and more then anything it is fun and it is supportive and inclusive, its not about Me its about Us! By the people for the people!
Punk Globe: Who all is involved in the Beat Army?
Paul Collins: Every day more and more `people get involved and anybody reading this is welcome to join, there is a place for everyone in this army as long as you love power pop, punk pop, garage rock, vintage rock & new wave you are welcome here, and even if you haven't been exposed to this kind of music join us and you will see how much fun it is! For now just put BEAT ARMY in your Facebook search bar, click and voila you will be in the BEAT ARMY!
Punk Globe: Do you have a Facebook profile for the Beat Army and a website for your band?
Paul Collins: Facebook is Paul Collins Beat or
here you can get up to date info on our tours and download tons of free music and videos of the band past and present.
Punk Globe: Do you have any upcoming releases or re releases?
Paul Collins: Yes! King of Power Pop on Alive/Bomp Records out August 24th! This will be my 13th release and I am very proud of it. Produced by Jim Diamond in Detroit at his all analogue studio Ghetto Recorders it features cameo appearances by Nikki Corvette and Wally Palmar from The Romantics! Alive has re released 2 Nerves records and The Breakaways you can get all of them here
Punk Globe:I wish you great success w/ this upcoming tour, and future work w/ the band...Will definitely be checking out the SoCal shows. Any closing thoughts for the enthusiasts and maybe some words of advice for new musicians just starting out?
Paul Collins: Yes, I am very happy that after all these years playing music I can still go out and jump up on stage plug in my guitar and rock out to an enthusiastic crowd of people bit young and old, I didn't think it could be possible but I learned one of the most beautiful things about playing music, the music that you love is it keeps you young at heart...follow your dreams and don't let anyone tell you not to! See you all at the shows! Please join the BEAT ARMY and help us keep power pop alive and well!