Eve 6's Max Collins on Oasis, TRL and writing another "Inside Out"
By Andrew Penkalski
Max Collins and his SoCal rock act Eve 6 have carried out a remarkably dormant existence over the past decade -- a period that has seen their ubiquitous brand of radio rock sink further toward profound unprofitability. To no fault of the band's own, industry tools of promotion and distribution have been diffused in a way that doesn't necessarily allow for BMG Music to take A&R gambles on a trio of high schoolers, as was the case with Collins and co. back in 1998.
It also may be why their current tour and new album, last month's Speak in Code, seem timely. It was only ten years ago when "Here's to the Night" occupied a cushy role for early aught prom nights -- affairs that were powered by little more than a 20-something alumnus' catalogue of CD-Rs. But since nostalgia continues to manifest itself, Collins will perform those songs you and your friends really loved a whole ten years ago tonight at Varsity Theater. Here's his conversation with Gimme Noise.
Gimme Noise: I was about 11 when "Here's to the Night" came out, but a lot of my peers still have a fondness for those radio staples. So ten or fifteen years later, are you guys beginning to notice any generational gaps in the audience?
Max Collins: Yeah, there's sort of a cross-section. There are people that are kind of our age that grew up with the band, and then there are younger kids as well. We're grateful to have the fans that we do. But it's a healthy bunch. I haven't seen any people getting wheeled in or anything like that.
GN: So you guys signed with Fearless Records last year, which is a smaller, younger label. How has that working experience compared to your major-label beginnings at 19 years old?
MC: It's been incredible. We just keep learning the same kind of happy lesson when it comes to our team and the people we work with and just going where there's the most genuine enthusiasm and beliefs as opposed to the person with the biggest resume or whatever. And Fearless is a small but energetic group of thoughtful, savvy people who really love music, so it's pretty refreshing. They've been working their asses off.
GN: Comparing that experience with the bands beginnings, did RCA Records give you guys a decent amount of creative control back in 1998 for your first record?
They didn't at first, but that wasn't through any virtue of their own. I think they just didn't really care. We got signed in high school, and I think [RCA's] feeling was "let's just kind of sit back and watch and see if it becomes anything interesting." I don't think they thought it did until they actually heard the recordings we did with [producer] Don Gilmore. Then they gave us a little bit of money. They left us alone entirely, because we weren't a priority. They were focused on other things. Then they listened to a handful of songs -- one of which was "Inside Out." I don't think they were clamoring around that song as an isolated thing yet, but I guess they figured that it was the result they got by not sticking their noses in, so they let us just finish the record.
GN: I remember you guys being one of the last great TRL dominators on MTV right before the Internet started changing how music is promoted and distributed. Do you look at the older rock 'n roll standards like the music video with any sense of fondness?
MC: Yeah, our band still has the opportunity to do what we do and have our reach and fan base and name value in large part because of the resources and money that were available to us. Bands coming out now have it a lot harder to find that. We're definitely grateful for it. It's allowed us to stick around just because of the reach we had back then.
GN: The first song on Speak in Code has the line, "Goodbye to rock 'n roll." Is rock 'n roll stardom and Eve 6's own success something you still think about while writing songs?
MC: I don't normally write this way, but for that song I had the concept to write a song from Noel to Liam Gallagher not long after that breakup. There's aspects of that story I can identify with. I think that's always been something in the back of my mind. This is all I know. It's what I love, and it's all I know. I don't have any other skills. We walked out of high school on to a tour bus. That realization is sort of energizing and terrifying at the same time.
GN: What is it about the Liam and Noel relationship that you're drawn to?
MC: Well I'm a big fan of the band, and it's just kind of tragic in a way. You know, they're brothers. I mean they were band mates, and that's an intimate relationship as a starting point. But they're brothers, and the fact that there seems to be genuine vitriol and negativity to the extent that they're not able to play together at all. That's heavy stuff.
GN: Do you ever think you'll write a song as massively popular as "Inside Out" or "Here's to the Night" again?
MC: Oh, man. I think it would be amazing if that happened, but to have any expectation for that is insane. I feel lucky to have had those two. And "Victoria" is getting great radio support, which is amazing also. But no. That's not how we're trying to define the success of the band.
Eve 6. With Fall From Grace. 18+, $18-$20, 7 p.m., Thursday, May 24 at Varsity Theater; click here.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.