Hard Time to Take It is out now!
Image: Dom Gould.
Australian duo COLLAR have treated fans with the release of their sophomore EP, Hard Time to Take It! We caught up with vocalist Spencer White to unpack the release, the importance of live music and so much more!
Tell us about your background in music and how COLLAR came to be…
Growing up, I was always surrounded by music and people that worked in the industry. I think it was more of a necessity rather than something of a hobby or interest. I’m especially thankful to my parents for making it that way. I met Charles whilst playing in bands around 2010-2013ish, it’s a little foggy as to when we first met but I’d always admired his work from afar. Pushing on maybe, 3- 4 years ago, we started growing closer, having spent time overseas together from time to time. There was a definitive point, where the two of us were seemingly at the same crossroads with how we were creatively and how we thought things should be approached musically, so we decided to start writing together. It was pretty clear from the get go, that we had an ease of interpreting one another's ideas and forming the music we have for COLLAR.
Congratulations on your sophomore EP Hard Time to Take It! How did you approach creating this EP, compared to Strangest Desires?
I wouldn’t say much has changed between the two releases, besides the fact that with each new song we wrote, something was done a little different. There’s almost this hidden competitiveness the both of us have to not do the same thing twice, whether that be production, writing or live. The songs on HTTTI were definitely a more honest take on the whole songwriting front.
Walk us through the themes explored across the collection of songs...
I think it’s a kind of ‘Ode to solitude’. Settling into the comfort of being alone and approaching things differently. It’s always been our belief that leaving music up for interpretation creates a stronger meaning and eventually and hopefully something bigger than it was in the beginning.
Could you talk us through your creative process when writing and recording this collection of songs?
The process varies, usually starting with an idea from either of us, which we build on. It generally involves locking ourselves in the studio and not coming out until we have something the both of us find substantial.
You wrote and produced the EP entirely yourselves. What do you find are the advantages of having that control over your own music?
It’s always been the way for most of our projects to be honest. So the idea of not having control over your own music is quite foreign. We’ve been fairly lucky with the opportunity of being able to remain independent and still be able to reach people anywhere.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about producing your own music whilst making this record?
Control, I guess? Maybe the level of comfort in knowing we can create the music we want to, without any overbearing pressure or influence.
How did you arrive at the overall sonic exploration and sounds present on the release?
For me, when I listen to any of the music we’ve made together, it’s a clear mix between the both of us. Whatever you’re hearing is just a paint-gun of ideas we repeatedly shoot at one another, that ends up being something cohesive
How did the EP evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?
There was a pretty strong idea of what we wanted this release to be. The songs were there, some didn’t make the cut but that’s just what happens. There is definitely room in the future for the ones that were held off this time around.
Which song off Hard Time to Take It would you pick to play to someone who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?
I don’t have an honest answer for this. But let’s go with Tripping Over Myself.
What’s one line from the EP you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
“I’m tripping over myself” or “Gonna trust my feet, I don’t know if that’s alright.”
You’re set to headline the opening night of the 2021 Brisbane Festival! What can audience members expect from this set?
It’s very humbling to be a part of something like this, let alone opening the venue. It’s a pretty significant, cultural thing to happen for Brisbane I think. The opening of The Princess seems to be, somewhat of a beginning, to a new nightlife/ creative precinct that Brisbane has been waiting for. This show will be our biggest to date, we’ve had to scale everything up, so I think the night will be pretty special for everyone involved.
The past sixteen months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourselves as musicians showcasing your art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?
It’s pretty clear how serious it is to everyone just by seeing the eagerness of people going to see shows. Almost, as if going through this rough 18 months or so, has made the importance of the live music industry so evident to everyone.
Will we be seeing you hit the road with national dates anytime soon? Or any live show plans beyond next month's performance?
I don’t want to jinx anything right now, so rather than answer this question I’ll stay quiet.
I wouldn’t know where to start...
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia by The Dandy Warhols
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Gloom. Wave. Rave.
Best song of 2021 so far?
Arab Strap - The Turning Of Our Bones
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The Wizard of Oz
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
What was the first song you loved to sing?
I used to relentlessly piss off my parents when I’d sing the wrong lyrics to the songs they’d show me. If I could remember one it would be ‘Our Lips Are Sealed - The Go Gos.. (Alex the seal).
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Frozen by Madonna
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Music For Airports - Brian Eno
First concert you went to?
2002… Red hot chili peppers, Brisbane.
Best concert you have been to?
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Riverstage- 2013
First album you ever bought? With my own money… I believe it was Devil's Night - D12.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
I can be either.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed? We played a festival at the end of last year when there was a brief gap in restrictions and things were looking fairly promising in regards to crowd numbers at events. Our show was on a hill overlooking this beautiful Valley in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. We had 10 minutes to set up our entire show (lights and all) because somehow the band before us had played 20 minutes over. Long story short, I’ve never seen so many people at once, being catapulted into the universe, mostly from the acid going around but I'd like to think our music had played a part in their overall experience. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear and moving like untethered beings for the entirety of our show.
Guilty music pleasure?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
No idea, maybe Gessafelstein
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
Currently, I think production in Rap and Hip Hop has an ability to persuade people to be different and individual. No one in particular, but I’d say it’s been very important.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Get some sleep and some sun.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Three years old, Christmas, given a toy electric guitar and microphone by my family. Set up a lil stage in the living room. Pissed everyone off completely. My fathers friend walked into the house and looked at everyone biting their tongues due to the racket coming from my direction, he stood there and yelled “Rockstar”. Never really forgotten it to be honest.