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Throwback Suburbia

Interviewed by Larry Toering
Interview with Throwback Suburbia from 2012

Mike, when did you start playing drums and writing songs, and what musical path led to where you are today?

Mike Collins: I wrote my first song when I was eleven years old. By "write,” I mean I had a melody and lyric. It was a gruesome tale about a kid that got his legs cut off while sledding down a mountain. I think I heard a story about that scenario on TV and ran with it. I bought my first drum set when I was 14 with my paper route money. It was a Pearl Silver Sparkle. Two years ago I signed a Pearl endorsement, so it feels like coming full circle in a way. I was a jock in middle school. By the time I hit High School all I wanted to do was play the drums, and my grades reflected my new passion!
MSJ: What other artists worth mentioning have you worked with over the years, as you have been around for some time?
Mike Collins: My first "real" band that made a splash on the local scene was Harder Faster. It was a melodic hard rock band in the vein of Aerosmith and Van Halen. We signed a developmental deal with MCA and a publishing deal with Warner Chappell. We lasted for about four years until the Seattle Grunge scene sort of kicked us to the curb. After HF, I auditioned for former David Bowie and John Lennon guitarist Earl Slick and got the gig. We did a little bit of recording and did some dates in Portland, Seattle and a few cities in British Columbia before Slick decided to move to Lake Tahoe to work with David Coverdale. I've also played with Dan Reed (of the Dan Reed Network) and other notable local artists; Geoff Byrd, Stephanie Schneiederman, Thrillbilly, Skinhorse and Red Sector. I've been a hired gun in town for many years, but Throwback Suburbia is my passion and my outlet for my songwriting. Plus I get to play with some amazingly talented musicians and songwriters as well in the band.
MSJ: If you could work with one artist you never have, who would it be and why?
Mike Collins: There's so many, but I would say, in no particular order... David Bowie, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and Neil Finn of Crowded House. Mainly because they are some of my favorite artists.
MSJ: The CD release party concert for Shotglass Souvenir was an exciting show, the band seemed to be enjoying the reception. How did you follow a gig like that the next day, do you just relax and sleep it off or does it actually inspire you to immediately want to do something creative?  
Paul Bond: The success of the release show definitely inspires me to try and get the next thing in the works.  More reviews, licensing, booking tours etc.  Right after sleeping of course.
MSJ: You decided to self produce this one, when you have worked with some great producers and other people on that side of things, such as Greg Calbi to name just one, was it just time or did anything else play a part in this decision?
Paul Bond:  We also worked with Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith) and Chris Manning (Jellyfish) on the last record.  Part of it was budget. We really wanted to keep this record local and pay for it completely as we went, but we also wanted to make a different record than we had in the past.  We knew that by having Jeff (Stuart Saltzman) help us track the basic tracks, and mix it, we would get a more reckless rock and roll record.

Jimi Evans: This was a whole new game for us this time. With the help of Jeff Saltzman, we took his drum tracks, brought them back to our space and with nothing more than an old Quad Eight, RNC comp, and a Shure SM7 we created the rest.

MSJ: Do you feel Shotglass Souvenir is a natural progression from your last CD, or is it more of the same, just another release in the same vein as usual?  
Paul Bond: I think it's completely different.  In the past all of the songs were demoed.  There was no question on what to do in the studio, which is a great way to be to save money.  On the …Souvenir sessions we had invested in our “house” studio and did most of the tracking there.  Many of the songs were just “ideas” with no lyrics.  We refrained from '”click'” tracks and we tracked all real samples.  It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun - very D.I.Y.
MSJ: Do you think the digital consumer landscape, including all of the illegal downloading that goes with it has hindered or helped the music industry in the last decade or so?  
Paul Bond: Hard to say. I know that it has hurt sales at the big record companies.  It definitely takes away from record sales but that also may equate to more people at your shows.

Jimi Evans: Where I worry is in the devaluing of art. If something costs a consumer $0, then it is, in fact worth $0. I agree with Paul that perhaps there are some secondary benefits but it's hard for a struggling independent band to see.

MSJ: How does the whole genre of power pop play a part in Throwback Suburbia's product, or is it something you guys even think about?  
Paul Bond  We consider ourselves to be a rock band but often are considered power pop. I definitely don’t think it's hurt us. There seems to be a pretty loyal power pop underground that have been very supportive to us.
MSJ: Do you have a favorite Spinal Tap moment? 
Paul Bond: We've had too many.  Van breakdowns, emergency rooms, puppet shows...OK, no puppet shows, but we do have a lot of funny tour moments that we have documented on our youtube channel.

Mike Collins: Well, our bassist, Eric French actually had a Spinal Tap the day before we did a west coast tour a few years back. So, I think we have a pretty legit Spinal Tap moment!

MSJ: What equipment do you currently use and how does it differ from any you've previously gone with?
Paul Bond: I have used a 1965 Fender Bandmaster amp since our first EP (Fourplay).  We actually rented it from Centaur Guitar for the record and Mark Plati (Bowie), that recorded that album, said if I didn't buy it he was going to.  I usually play a custom Eastwood Stormbird for my live rig but also have a 78 Les Paul custom. Iit is just too heavy to play for a long set.  Eastwood has been the best company to work with.  They have been so supportive to us over the years.

Jimi Evans:  I have always used a Vox AC 30 and my custom Eastwood Airline. Like Paul mentioned, we had also rented an Eastwood from Centaur Guitar on our first EP and I connected with Mike Robinson at Eastwood right afterward to let him know we'd be honored to be endorsed by his product.

Mike Collins: I play Pearl drums (endorsed by) Pro Mark sticks (endorsed by) Evans heads (endorsed by) Zildjan and Sabian cymblals, and Beier drums (endorsed by). I truly love the companies of which I have endorsements with. They have taken a fairly unknown drummer like myself and have given me an opportunity for greater exposure. Plus they make the best products around!

MSJ: How do you feel about the northwest music scene, particularly Portland and, what is there (if anything) you want to see changed, or is it all in good order in your opinion? 
Paul Bond: I think that Portlandia is a strange place to be but I love the access to live music.  We have great clubs here.

Mike Collins: I think PDX has a great music scene. There's something here for everybody. Folk, jazz, metal, indie, country, etc.. and there are some good tribute/top 40 bands as well. We'd prefer people support original music of course, but we appreciate what all the musicians are doing in town and I think we've received a fair share of support.

MSJ: If you could be any super hero for a day, which one would it be and why?
Paul Bond: I guess it would be Superman, just for the gift of flight...I am not too fond of the blue tights and red cod piece.  Like the cape though.
MSJ: What are some of the things you do besides music to pass the time?
Paul Bond: Run -I like to trail run and road run, really long distances.

Mike Collins: I like to kayak, do yoga and hike as much as possible. Travel and spending time with my family is a priority, too.

MSJ: Any plans for the immediate future with Throwback... now that the new CD is out?
Paul Bond: We are just trying to get the record heard.  We are going to spend some time trying to get reviews, trying to get songs licensed, and work on setting up a summer tour.

Mike Collins: We're currently in negotiations with the owner of MTV Thailand to write and produce songs for some Thai bands. We'll know more on that very soon, but don't want to get into that too much before the ink is dry.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at
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