Exclusive Q and A: Man Overboard Talk Philly Pride and Punk Longevity

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OurStage Exclusive InterviewsIt wouldn’t be hyperbolic to call New Jersey pop punk act Man Overboard a touring machine. Their schedule for 2012 has so far included dates in the United Kingdom, United States, continental Europe, Russia, and Ukraine. As if that weren’t enough, this summer they played every single date on notoriously brutal The Vans Warped Tour. We caught up with guitarist Justin Collier at their Mansfield, MA Warped Tour stop to talk stage dives, Russian punk shows, and why little girls love New Found Glory.

OS: You guys played a killer set earlier today, even though you had a pretty early time slot.

JC: I think that a lot of bands get really bummed out when they first come on the tour and find out they have to play either really early or really late. They think that if they play first, then nobody’s going to be there, and if they play last, then everybody’s going to be gone already. Even though some kids at our signing today told us that they missed our set because they didn’t get there until 1 p.m, I think a lot of kids do get there early.  Some of the people who arrive early and don’t have anyone to watch will think, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that band.  I’ll check them out.” And that’s half the battle of Warped Tour.  That’s what you’re here for”to get new fans.

OS: But by now, you guys have become a fairly established act on the tour, and it doesn’t seem like you need to try incredibly hard to get a lot of people out to see you.  There were a certainly a lot of people out there this morning.

JC: It’s different in different places, you know? When you play somewhere like Boston and there are 20,000 people out there, it’s a little easier than when you play Kansas and there are only 5,000 people for all of the bands on the tour. Being from a city like Boston or Philly, where I’m from, there are always good shows. There would be bands that I’d see in Philly and I’d think, “Wow, they’re huge,” but I’d see them somewhere else and realize that they weren’t as big as they seemed.

OS: Being from a place with very intense scene loyalty, like the Philly or Jersey area, how do you feel when you tour abroad? You guys have toured in some very distant places recently, like Russia and Ukraine. What effect do those experiences have on the feeling of musical place you get from your hometowns?

JC: It makes me really appreciate being from the city of Philadelphia. I think that I didn’t before, but now I do, because there are things like R5 Productions and other really great companies, people, and collectives that do shows and events and all kinds of cool stuff. I have a very high standard of how punk shows should be run, but then we would go somewhere like Russia and, not to their discredit, they just haven’t been bred the same way that Phildelphians and Bostonians have been bred to run punk shows. I’m used to some pretty cool shit, but other places are just different and you have to get used to it. It’s always an adventure going somewhere else anyway.

OS: That being said, have there been any shows in particular on the tour so far that have made you think, “this is how a punk show should be?”

JC: Today, actually! Today there were people front-flipping off the stage. There were a bunch of seats in front of the stage, but between the pit and the seats there was a wall with a railing where people were standing. At one point, some kid got the idea to front-flip off the railing and that just set it off. There were people front-flipping off of there, and headwalking, and it was just awesome. It’s also best when nobody gets hurt.

OS: A lot of people have made a big deal of your slogan “Defend Pop Punk” and its call to arms for fans not to abandon their love of the genre as they grow older. What do you think pop punk continues to offer after people leave their teen years, the only time in which it’s stereotypically acceptable to listen to pop punk?

JC: A lot of pop punk stuff is about coming of age stories, or heartbreak stories. Even if you grow up and you fall in love, you can still relate to the songs. It might just be by thinking, “I’ve been there before,” or, “I remember that.” The music can also take you back to when you were a kid. Even bands like New Found Glory, who’ve been together for fifteen years, still write songs about missing someone, but now it’s about missing someone while you’re on tour. You’ve just got to roll with it, adapt, and keep doing what’s true to yourself.

OS: So how do you guys feel about seeing bands on this tour like New Found Glory that have been at it for so many years. What does it make you think about where Man Overboard is headed and the future of your own group?

JC: We’d definitely like to be a band like that ten years from now. We try to make decisions for our band that maybe aren’t the most lucrative right now, but are the most lucrative in the long term. It happens with little things, like spending a bit of extra money on certain expenses that will generate more of a long-term response, and will be money well spent. Other bands might say, “We don’t want to do that, because we just want to save our money,” but I’d rather do the band for ten years and make a less money off of it than do it for two years and make more. It’s about longevity and being smart and trying to make an investment in the future and investment in your fans so that you’ll gain fans who are loyal to you for a long time. Bands like New Found Glory, Saves The Day, and Taking Back Sunday have been at it a long time, but they can still go out and headline tours and play Warped Tour. They even play support tours, too, like New Found Glory supporting Paramore on the Honda Civic Tour a couple of years ago. When I asked them how it was, they said, “We usually play for an hour and a half, but there we played for 35 minutes. There would be signings after we’d play with all these little girls who had come to see Paramore and had never heard of New Found Glory before, but they’d say we were awesome!” Recently, we did a tour with them and there were little girls there that liked New Found Glory and had probably originally seen them on that Civic Tour. They’re smart about how they do things, and it’s cool to work with bands like that.

OS: Are there any up-and-coming bands on Warped this year that you’d strongly recommend to kids that they check out if they haven’t heard of them before?

JC: There was a band called Dead Sara, and their last day was today. Great band. Also this band called Funeral Party who are on the Tilly Stage with us. There’s a band called Hostage Calm, who actually start on tour today. I think they play in about two hours, so I’m going to see them. There a bunch of great bands on this tour, a lot of bands I’ve never heard of, a lot of bands I don’t care about, but also a lot of bands that I really enjoy and who I think are underrated or unknown.

Check out Man Overboard’s recent video for their single, “Dead End Dreams” below.

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