Oxford Collapse take Bits to Western Mass

BMS talks with Michael Pace about the band

, Staff Writer

After months of constant touring the road begins to yield its secrets to well traveled bands, and that is especially true for Oxford Collapse in 2008. Take, for instance, this tip for when in the great state of New Jersey. "They have these hot dogs that are kind of indigenous to New Jersey," explains singer and guitar player Michael Pace. "They’re called Texas Wieners but they’re deep fried to the point that they split. We try to hit up regional specialties when we can."

The band, which is rounded out by bassist Adam Rizer and drummer Dan Fetherston, has been busy this year, completing tours with We Are Scientists and Frightened Rabbit, and are now embarking on a stint with The Spinto Band to some of the places that they haven’t hit yet. "To a certain extent it can be really fun and to an extent it can be really heartbreaking," says Pace. "We’ve had our share of ups and downs on tour. We’ve learned what not to do over time, but sometimes it seems like we haven’t learned a thing."

The band’s live show is rambunctious and quite loud, especially for a trio, and their songs burst at the seams with infectious melodies. Though the songs on their latest album Bits seem just as immediate as those from 2006’s Remember the Night Parties, Pace says the band was quite deliberate in the writing and recording process this time around. "We took a long time to write all of the songs that wound up on Bits," he says. "We locked ourselves away last summer and hashed out a lot of ideas, jammed on things, and took our time getting things together."

"One of the things that we tried to consciously was trim the fat and get to the point," he continues. "Just get in, make our statement, and get out. It was nice to write short songs and hopefully have good hooks, there was definitely an emphasis on being more poppy and less kind of wankery. There was definitely a conscious effort to be immediate."

Along with that immediacy is of course the preponderance of melody, which has come to be one of the band’s calling cards. "There’s give and take between having things that are sparse and things that are dense and packing things in within an allotted time frame," Pace says. "We try to put a lot of information into the songs without making it unnecessary."

That poses unique challenges to a band of a guitar, bass, and drums when attempting to take songs from the studio to the stage, but Pace says that Oxford Collapse have addressed those issues and moved past them. "Over the course of the past few years we got less uptight about recording songs the way we were going to play them," he explains. "We’re a completely different band in the studio, and ‘Let’s not worry about what they’ll sound like when we play them live.’ I think that’s part of why we’re more aggressive than we are on record because when we come down to it we’re kind of this punk band at heart."

That is especially apparent in the forcefulness of the live show, a rush that is captured beautifully in the band’s best known song, "Please Visit Your National Parks" from Night Parties. "It’s the kind of thing that like in some weird alternate universe it’s a hit single," Pace says. "It’s funny because that was not Sub Pop’s initial pick for a single. But look where it got us today, riding around in a minivan eating hot dogs."

All of the band’s hard work will get them on a European tour early next year, and it will bring them to the Iron Horse Music Hall on Saturday for their first show in Northampton, but a momentous number overall. "We have something very special planned for our four hundred and twentieth show," Pace says. "Let’s leave it at that."

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