INTERVIEWS COLLIN HERRING|
PAST TENSESinger/songwriter COLLIN HERRING has put ROCKWIRED in a strange situation. I was anxious to speak with him regarding his latest release PAST LIFE CRASHING, but HERRING was clearly more interested in putting the finishing touches on a brand new CD. "It's almost done!" said COLLIN. "I'm finishing recording some harmony vocals. I'm excited about it. I've never been this far ahead of myself and I think it has alot to do with my grasp on life again."
COLLIN HERRING TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT HIS LATEST CD 'PAST LIFE CRASHING'
MOVING ON WITH HIS LIFE
AND A NEW ALBUM IN THE WINGS
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
While it would be interesting to hear what has HERRING so excited, I must say that PAST LIFE CRASHING (an album that HERRING now refers to as the "old CD") is a shimmering collection of songs that speak to the lost and the disconnected. All of the press for PAST LIFE CRASHING has paid lip service to the tremendous difficulty that HERRING faced in getting the album produced and the personal turmoils that engulfed this soft-spoken, alt-country troubadour.
"I went through a hard time. All of that is kind of behind me now and now it's a really creative time for me. During the recording of the old record, I was writing the entire time and going through a hard time and coming out of that and writng more and now I have a stock pile of all of these new songs that I'm finally able to record. It's kind of exciting."
When I spoke with COLLIN over the phone, I was expecting doom and gloom and got sunshine instead as he was taking a break from recording with producer STUART SIKES. Here is how it went.
COLLIN, I've waited months for this!!! How are you doing?
Good! I'm glad that things finally worked out.
Where are you calling from right now?
I'm in the studio with STUART SIKES and we just set up all of these pedals for a guitar part that we're working on. I knew that this phone call was coming so I was kind like - 'I would rather do this than a guitar part right now', so it all worked out.
Okay! I don't want anyone getting pissed at you.
No it works out good. I didn't know what I was going to play anyway.
Idon't want to be wasting your time. I heard that was a problem wthat you had in making PAST LIFE CRASHING.
That album (PAST LIFE CRASHING) has just come out and we're getting some good reviews on it which is great but whats cool is that I'm wrapping up a new album right now. I've got one album that's out and I've got one in the bag and everything is working out pretty good.
For once, it seems like. From what I've read, you had a difficult time getting PAST LIFE CRASHING finished.
I did. I went through a hard time. All of that is kind of behind me now and now it's a really creative time for me. During the recording of the old record, I was writing the entire time and going through a hard time and coming out of that and writing more and now I have a stock pile of all of these new songs that I'm finally able to record. It's kind of exciting.
PAST LIFE CRASHING is your third album. How do you feel that it is different from your two previous releases?
This album is not quite as jangly and rock n roll-ish. It's got slower songs and more mid-tempo songs as opposed to the THE OTHER SIDE OF KINDNESS record, which was very distorted, rock n roll, and kind of unclear. It was a whole different approach. This album is more of a singer-songwriter album where the others are more more rock n roll. I was a different person when I recorded PAST LIFE CRASHING. I think the music is a reflection of where I was with my life. I was happy with the way the songs turned out.
What drew you to music in the begining.
I was always raised around music. I grew up in a musical family. My dad is a musician so I was always around his friends playing music in our living room or at my friends ranch. It was always something that I knew that I wanted to do from an early age. I wanted to make songs that make people cry and I wanted to make songs that make people understand who I am. I always had a guitar with me and through songwriting, it was like a documentation of life. I always listened to people like NEIL YOUNG and EMMYLOU HARRIS and all those people that would make songs about life. With PAST LIFE CRASHING there are alot of songs about being broken and being fixed, and being married and being divorced. I just kind of documented everything.
What songs from PAST LIFE CRASHING resonate for you and why?
I like PICTURES alot. That song was about flipping through pictures and flipping through jobs. It's all about the time where I was working day jobs and doing music and being married at the same time. In the end, I felt like I was just a moment of this persons life. That song means alot to me. I think PUNCHES is another song that I like. It has a lot to do with life in general. It seems like a lot of times people want bad things to happen to other people in order for them to feel good. I've noticed that in a lot of the people around me so I documented that.
Before I listened to the album, I was reading all of these gloomy press releases about the CD and when I listened to it, I was actaully quite surprised by how optimistic the album is.
I've pretty much brushed that life behind me. Right now, I'm just hanging onto life and it's a nice place to be. My music is taking a new turn and I'm loving the the way this new music is turning out. I'm also loving the the reviews I'm getting on this old album (PAST-LIFE CRASHING). There's a lot to be happy about so I'm trying to stay in the light and stay positive. I'm really happy about it all.
Explain if it's explainable the creative process. What all goes into writing a song. How does a song go from being something you hear in your head to something that a person is going to hear over the speakers?
A song never starts in my head until I pick up an instrument and start writing. I'll play my first chord and if I like how a lyric turns out, I'll try turning it into a song. The songwriting comes from a subconscious place. I just close my eyes and try not to overthink it. I don't go 'I'm going to write a song about this or that!' because it's a subconscious thing. I really can't explain how I do it. It's a gift. That's why I'm a songwriter.
Who all worked with you for PAST LIFE CRASHING?
There were alot of great people! There was KEN COOMER (UNCLE TUPELO/WILCO) out of Nashville, COLLIN CRIPPS (KATHLEEN EDWARDS) - a producer out of Canada, and STUART SIKES (LORETTA LYNN/MODEST MOUSE). I'm working with STUART on these new songs as we speak. So, this album is a little bit of Nashville, a little bit Austin, a little bit of McGregor, Texas and a whole lot of COLLIN HERRING, I guess.
It's like a patchwork quilt.
It is. I worked with such great people . As I was geting the CD recorded, I kept thinking to myself that I'm a lucky guy to be playing with people that I admire.
Have you been playing out much for PAST LIFE CRASHING?
I have. There have been a bunch of gigs around Austin and just recently, I did a big show at SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST (SXSW). We've just hired a booking agent and we'll be doing alot of shows all throughout the summer. Right now, I've got a new album in the can so when the momentum dies for PAST LIFE CRASHING, I can release this new one.
How far are you away from finishing this forthcoming CD?
It's almost done. I'm finishing recording some harmony vocals. I'm excited about it. I've never been this far ahead of myself and I think it has alot to do with my grasp on life again.
Explain the title PAST LIFE CRASHING?
For me, it means closing the door on wreckage and starting a new life. I'm a lot happier now. My marriage is over and I'm not waking up every morning hungover. It's all about being out with the old and in with the new.
What do you want a listener to come away with after hearing PAST LIFE CRASHING?
I don't know if I have an answer for that. It would be great if someone can feel like they relate to the music and can find some sort of parrallel withthe lyrics. Hopefully, it can help someone through a hard time.