Smile Politely

Get Rowdy with Oxford Collapse

The Brooklyn trio, Oxford Collapse, has made their way to Champaign-Urbana in conjunction with the Pygmalion Music Festival. Playing a free show tonight at the Krannert Art Museum, the group will be joined by Catfish Haven, Evangelicals, Murder by Death and our very own Oceans – a lineup that’s sure to knock over one or two priceless paintings.

Oxford Collapse plays a style of music that could be called “mature punk.” Now the term is relative, mind you; there’s youthful energy and exuberance bleeding through all of their material. They write and play the type of music that makes the listener not only want to party with the band, but maybe also herd some sheep. Their fourth studio album, Bits, was just released this past August by “indie” super label, Sup Pop.

Smile Politely was able to talk to Michael Pace, guitarist and vocalist, from Oxford Collapse by the powers of the internet. See what he has to say about Billy Joel, the Midwest and more after the jump.

Smile Politely: For Pygmalion Music Festival, you’re playing in the Krannert art museum. Have you played any other “alternative venue spaces?”

Mike: We’ve played in movie theaters, Mexican restaurants, bowling alleys, bachelor parties, barns, Japanese restaurants, churches, garages, and basements. Any alternative to a traditional boring club is preferred.

SP: The movement and structure of your songs sound really natural and organic. How do you guys handle the songwriting process? Is it pretty collaborative, or do you work on stuff on your own to bring to the group?

Mike: Everything is democratic with us. We each have a hand in each other’s pockets. I don’t think that’s the right phrase but you know what I mean. We collaborate on the music, lyrics, and artwork, and hopefully we all wind up happy with the end result.

SP: On your new record there’s a track that stuck out to me, “The Wedding.” How did the instrumentation for this song come about? How do you tackle this song live?

Mike: “A Wedding” came out of a little bass n’ guitar jam that we had floating around. Dan [Fetherston] our drummer came up with the idea of rearranging the song for cello, probably after listening to Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle” a few too many times. For the live show we’ve rearranged the song again for guitar, bass, and drums, and now it’s got a nice lite rock vibe that the kids should really dig.

SP: I’d imagine your shows can get pretty crazy. How would you describe your live show? Do you try to make it different than your recorded material?

Mike: The live show is like a freight rain runnin’ through your brain while you slowly go insane. That’s a great lyric, I should use that for something. Playing live is about having a good time, letting loose, goin’ nuts. In that respect, the rowdier the better. If you want to see a band replicate their recorded material note for note live, go see Rush, who are awesome live, by the way.

SP: Are there any other instrument(s) you play or would like to play? Would you ever try to incorporate multi-instrumentation in your albums or live show?

Mike: I recently took up the mandolin, and we’ve incorporated that into these acoustic sets we’ve been doing. I can play rudimentary piano, but I’ve love to be a great barrelhouse piano player. Like Billy Joel.

SP: What’s your drink of choice?

Mike: Coca-Cola with ice in a frosted mug, with a case of Red Stripe on the side.

SP: This Thursday you’ll be playing in the middle of a state placed in the middle of the Midwest. What are your thoughts on the region?

Mike: We actually love the Midwest. Wait – that depends on which “Midwest” you’re talking about. Give us North Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas, you can keep Nebraska and Missouri.

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