Simon Collins
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Simon Collins


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LP: U-Catastrophe (2008)



Simon Collins has literally spent his life immersed in music and with his U.S. debut album, “U-CATASTROPHE,” he brings all of his experiences and ideas to the fore. The Vancouver-based musician/songwriter/producer has unleashed a truly unique collection, veering freely from volatile electronic-infused hard rock to intimate, though no less intense, examples of his gift for melodic songcraft. “I found my voice on this record,” Collins says. “Sonically, emotionally, and convictionally. This album has brought to balance all of my influences. Not just musical, but the things I feel the need to sing about.” Born in London England, Collins moved to British Columbia at the age of 8, a transition he describes as going “from Blade Runner to suburbia.” Inspired by his father, the one and only Phil Collins, Simon picked up the drumsticks at a very early age. And like his dad, his creativity and musical instincts eventually led him to the piano, where he began penning original material. Collins’ diverse tastes and burgeoning interest in songwriting weren’t reflected in some of the earlier bands in which he played, bands far more interested in just utilizing his undeniable strength behind the kit. “I had two sides to me,” Collins says. “Part of me wanted to thrash out on the drums and play heavy guitar rock. Then there was a side to me that was a little bit more sensitive.” Frustrated by his role, Collins decided to leave the band and devoted himself to furthering his songwriting. His mind blown by the adventurous sounds of electronica and psychedelic trance, he dove headfirst into modern musical technology, mastering the arts of production, programming, and sound design. “I started to find my own sound,” he says. “A little bit of rock, a little bit of prog, a little bit of pop, and a little bit of electronica.”
In 2000, Collins’ demos caught the attention of WEA Europe, which brought him to Germany to record his trance-fueled debut, “ALL OF WHO YOU ARE.” Though the collection yielded two hit singles and sold substantial numbers, Collins felt constrained by its synth-based sonic nature. In 2003, he severed his relationship with WEA and returned home to Vancouver. He started his own Lightyears Music label and self-released 2005’s “TIME FOR TRUTH,” which incorporated organic instrumentation and a provocative and political lyrical slant.
In 2007, Collins signed with Razor & Tie and set to work on what would be his first US release. He teamed with producer/engineer Kevin Churko, known for his association with Robert “Mutt” Lange, and winner of the 2008 Juno Award for “Recording Engineer Of The Year” honoring Ozzy Osbourne’s “BLACK RAIN.” Collins headed to Churko’s Las Vegas studio in May and the two established a near-instantaneous rapport. Their very first session together yielded two of the album’s unquestionable highlights – “Disappearing” and “Powerless.” “Not only was there chemistry between us,” Collins says, “it was great fun. I came back thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard myself sound this way.’”
Returning to Las Vegas in September, Collins stayed in a spare room at Churko’s home, writing songs and working on sound design and programming, while his co-producer recorded tracks in the main studio space.
“It was a really cool way of working,” Collins says. “It gave us each the space and time to come up with stuff, which we’d then pass back and forth. It was the most focused I’ve ever been recording a record. It was just wake up every day and do what you love doing.” Collins’ passion rings throughout “U-CATASTROPHE.” The album is a conglomeration of sound, melding digital effects and transient random noise bursts with huge guitar hooks. The widescreen sonic approach amplifies the power of more tender moments such as “Us (love transcends)” and “Unconditional”, songs written as heartfelt and raw expressions of love and gratitude to friends and family members that supported Collins through what he freely admits have been some significant “peaks and troughs.” “It’s really an account of what I’ve been going through the past couple of years,” he admits. “Everyone has their vices, and I wanted to let people into a world I wasn’t really comfortable even talking about two years ago, let alone singing about.” Which isn’t to say Collins has lost interest in speaking out about the social ills surrounding him: “Between I & E” is a scathing indictment of the false prophets who inhabit the religious right and organized religion, while “Eco” – co-written with his partner Debora Lucyk – is an angry, yet still hopeful, statement of Collins’ concern about preservation of fresh water sources and our impending environmental disaster. “I haven’t lost the need to ask big questions or to inspire change,” Collins notes. “We all know that there are things that need to be said and things that need to be changed, and artists are certainly a voice for a lot of people. But at the same time, you don’t w