For the uninitiated, COLLARS is an exciting new indie duo composed of Dan (vocals) and Kane (guitar and drums) based in rural Cambridgeshire. Their debut EP, Everything Present 1, was released yesterday on Laundry Rooms, a label run by the band.
The EP features six tracks, all of which were written, recorded and produced by the band in their home studio. The record kicks off with ‘Over You,’ (which the band have described as “…a punk-addled indie offering about relationships, denial and reawakening…”) and closes with ‘I Do,’ ( “…a reluctant love song.”)
Showcasing meticulous production, whip-sharp songwriting and slick instrumentation, Everything Present 1 is a debut that delivers the goods whilst promising greater glories to come. It’s no wonder that BBC Introducing in the Channel Islands recently named ‘Hey Lizzie, Lay It On Me,’ as Track of the Week.
On behalf of Totally Wired, I recently spoke with Dan, the duo’s vocalist and lyricist, chatting about everything from singing your own truth to the glories of Sheffield’s thriving music scene.
TWM: How did you two meet and decide to strike out into a musical career?
Dan: Kane used to drum in one of my friend’s bands, so we met that way. Then when Kane was trying to do his own project, he was looking for a singer and asked me if I’d ever thought about singing. I’d never sung before and was terrified by the prospect, but also excited. So I gave it a go singing some songs he’d written, but I’m a journalist too, so I wanted to have a stab at writing my own stuff and I quickly realised that singing my own words was much better – felt more truthful – than singing somebody else’s.
TWM: How would you describe your signature sound?
Dan: That’s a tricky one. I suppose it’s classic indie band with a DIY punk ethos. ‘Punk or death!’ is our band motto.
TWM: Who are your chief musical and artistic inspirations?
Dan: I absolutely adore Arctic Monkeys and Damon Albarn. A lot of my writing is influenced by Damon and Alex Turner. I often think: ‘Would Damon or Alex be happy with this line, or would they keep working on it until they landed on something more clever?’ The answer is more often than not ‘keep trying’! As for Kane, I know he’s heavily influenced by the likes of Jack White, Travis Barker and gritty old blues artists. Kane’s always thinking outside the box and trying to work out how we can make the biggest sound possible with just the two of us.
TWM: How has your songwriting evolved since you’ve begun working together?
Dan: We tried a stint where Kane would write some music and I’d then write the lyrics and vocal melody to go with it, but it didn’t feel natural. I would often get little melodies in my head, so I started writing the vocal melody and lyrics and then taking it to Kane almost fully formed. He would then write the music to go with it. Suddenly everything seemed to fall into place. Sometimes we sit down and write together and sometimes Kane will have a little riff he’ll bring to me, but more often than not I write the melody and words first and that works for us.
TWM: What was the process of recording your first EP like?
Dan: Knackering! At least it is when you have to do everything yourself. Kane did all the instrumentation, producing, mixing, recording, etc… So more knackering for him. I just turned up and sang when he needed me. Although we wrote it all together of course.
TWM: Which upcoming gigs are you most looking forward to?
Dan: The EP launch! I’m also really excited about playing Sheffield (Tramlines Fringe, 25 July), because I love the Monkeys obvs, but also Pulp and Richard Hawley and Slow Club. It’s got such an incredible music scene. But yeah, our EP launch at the Blue Moon in Cambridge on Saturday 31 July is one we’ve been planning and gearing up to for months now. It’ll be the culmination of so much hard work and we’re so excited. Hopefully – fingers crossed, touch wood, spit on a black cat or whatever else brings you good luck – we’ll be free from social distancing by then and will be able to celebrate properly. It’s free entry too, so everyone should come down. Let’s have a right old party!
Everything Present 1 is available on all digital platforms, and special 10’’ vinyls. You can purchase tickets to see Collars in action live at: https://www.collarstheband.com/live. You can also find them on Instagram @collarstheband