Power-pop icon Paul Collins has strong ties to both New York and Los Angles with the 40-or-so years he’s spent on stage in noted projects on both coasts, including The Beat, The Nerves, and Paul Collins Beat. Though he’s never called Wisconsin home, the Badger State holds a unique place in Collins’ recent history. A drummer (in Spain of all places) opened up the pipeline of Wisconsin musicians that would step in to serve stints as Paul Collins Beat backing band members, most recently Jon Phillip (Benjamins, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades, Good Land Records) and Tim Schweiger (The Midwest Beat, Tim Schweiger And The Middle Men) last summer. The connection also served as the subject of Midnight Reruns’ infinitely catchy “King Of Pop” (Collins even makes a cameo in the video for the song).
Though the band is now devoid of Milwaukee members, Paul Collins Beat (fresh off the release of last year’s Feel The Noise) is coming to Bremen Cafe Friday, January 9. Before the show, Milwaukee Record reached out to Collins, as well as Midnight Reruns singer/guitarist Graham Hunt and one-time touring drummer Jon Phillip to get more insight on the unique foothold the power-pop veteran has here.
On the Collins/Wisconsin connection
“I have played with Amos [Pitsch of Tenement] and also Timm Buechler. I met all the cats I worked with in Milwaukee through Chris Bongers, who was my drummer in Spain for a number of years. He’s been living there for quite some time, but he is from Appleton and he introduced me to Tim Schweiger and also Timm Buechler. At one point, it was Tim and Timm in the band.” [Paul Collins]
“Paul’s Milwaukee ties all land on Chris Bongers. He’s a Wisconsin guy that moved to Spain and started playing with Paul a while back. Chris would get other Wisconsin musicians involved with Paul when someone was needed. For some reason, it seems like people from the greater Wisconsin area are made to play that type of music.” [Jon Phillip]
“When he tours he always comes here. There’s always at least a couple Wisconsin musicians in his band. Maybe because there was a certain time when that kind of power-pop stuff was really popular in Green Bay and Milwaukee. I feel like that’s why the Figgs have such a big following here, too.” [Graham Hunt]
On their connection to Collins’ music
“The first time I heard Paul’s music was in 2008 at Tim [Schweiger]’s house when he played me The Nerves. I fell in love with their sound and songs immediately. Specifically the song, ‘When You Find Out.’ I thought it was beautiful and the drum beat was great and surfy. Once I bought the record a month later, I saw that Paul was the drummer, which kind of tripped me out because around that time I found out about the Beat’s first record and that he was the frontman, guitar player, and singer. I think Paul’s an incredible talent that should’ve had a bigger heyday in the ’80s, and should have a bigger audience than he has nowadays.” [JP]
“Hearing the Exploding Hearts cover ‘Walking Out On Love’ when I was around 14 or 15. I thought it was their song for months until my friend pointed out it was a Paul Collins Beat cover. Then I discovered he was in The Nerves. I listened to that first EP on repeat in high school.” [GH]
On “King Of Pop”
“The song is about how people in Milwaukee have been prank calling him for years. Since he usually has a Wisconsin musician or two in his band, lots of people just end up having his phone number. Apparently he will always answer his phone, no matter what time it is. So of course when people found out about the song and that he was getting involved in the video, they just did it more. He wasn’t thrilled about that. He told me the song was catchy though.” [GH]
“Ben [Perlstein], their manager, got in touch with me about it. I thought it was pretty funny. It was actually inspired by real-life events. A few years back, one of those Milwaukee pranksters got my number and started calling me in the middle of the night. I had fun doing the video, and I think it came out good.” [PC]
“It’s cool. I’m not sure why he wanted to get involved, given the subject of the song, but I’m glad he did. The concept was such a half-baked idea, ‘Uh…let’s just get drunk and smash stuff in our backyard, and it will be like his dream, man!’ We had no idea what the final product was going to look like, but it turned out pretty funny.” [GH]
Do people still prank call him?
“No one calls, and that’s the way I like it.” [PC]
Paul Collins Beat will headline a show with Prognosis Negative Friday, January 9 at Bremen Cafe. The show begins at 9 p.m. and is free.