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Best of Portland 2009

Smashing success

The New Collisions start things off right
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  May 27, 2009

REFINED SUGAR With help from the Cars' Greg Hawkes, the New Collisions' sparkling new wave is more like hard candy than bubblegum.

The New Collisions, "No Free Ride" (mp3)
It feels as if all the music people these days were rushing toward a hyper-electro-modern future where they'll be programming drum machines hard-wired directly to their erogenous zones. Or else they've plucked a retro-cool muse from an era they weren't old enough to experience in the flesh. This development could be the result of a collective boredom with rock and roll. Or simply the circle of life. Or the wheel of fortune. Something.

Belonging to the retro-cool-muse camp are the nexus of the New Collisions, Sarah and Scott Guild, who set off my sarcasm detector when they tell me they're siblings. After vacating Vermont's Marlboro College to roam the earth — like Caine in Kung Fu — they dwelt in Mississippi, Florida, England, and Connecticut, in 15 different apartments over four years. Having fully indulged their wanderlust, they landed in Cambridge about a year ago, and they found new purpose with the music Sarah first discovered in her childhood, while listening to the radio on car rides with her mom.

"Being a singer from a young age," she explains over drinks at Phoenix Landing, "I was so floored when I heard Heart or Pat Benatar, things you can really rock out to. So we're children of the '80s in that way."

"There's something about the late-'70s, early-'80s period of music that's unabashedly epic," says the suavely attired Scott. "It's not afraid to make a major statement, or be really in your face. We feel a lot of music nowadays can be a bit understated, or ironic, or jaded."

Sarah: "We want people to feel like part of the experience, not alienate people and make them think they're not part of the scene, like they're on the outside. Some bands project that vibe. They want to keep you out. We don't want to keep you out. A lot of the lyrics of the music that we're inspired by aren't about social commentary. They're not really about trying to get to the core of things. It's just like a big party, or being sassy. "

"We also like being sassy at the big party," adds Scott.

The sassy party of the New Collisions, who began playing out only six months ago, has fallen into place so well it's actually kind of fucked up. Regardless of how many dance parties they've provoked via updated, sparkling new wave that's more like hard candy than bubblegum, and no matter how fervently they've self-promoted (Scott was doing his own street-team duties by flyering Allston before we met up), years are supposed to elapse before anybody who helped inspire your genre wants to jam with you, much less play on your record. But Greg Hawkes, who acted as template setter for new-wave synth licks back when he was in the Cars, lives around Boston, and he was quickly converted into a New Collisions devotee when they sought him out. That he laid down characteristically blithe melodies for most of the New Collisions' new EP is some seriously serendipitous shit.

It's also theoretically difficult for a nascent outfit to enlist the production proficiency of someone who's worked extensively with Duran Duran, and briefly played drums for fucking Megadeth. Nonetheless, the construction of this EP saw Anthony Resta producing and shattering many a drum stick to splinters at his Studio Bopnique Musique in Chelmsford.

"Most of the songs aren't about our personal experiences from when we were young," says Scott, clarifying why New Collisions lyrics occasionally use the past tense. "A lot of it is coming from this youthful place of rebellion against the emptiness of modern life, and searching for something more. We feel like we've been doing that in our personal lives, leaving school, living all over the place, and trying to really discover what life is about, instead of what you're sort of handed."

"Forty hours a week doing something you don't particularly enjoy, and being around people and environments that you wouldn't choose for yourself if you had the choice," Sarah elaborates. "I feel like we have to be pro-active in our own lives and encourage other people to do the same."

The aforementioned new EP will be innovatively disseminated digitally — via snazzy USB cards — amid a mighty promising bill this Friday at T.T.'s. Swing by for a refreshing interruption to your boring-ass adult life.

THE NEW COLLISIONS + TOWNSHIP + TELEVANDALS + THE LIGHTS OUT + LOGAN 5 AND THE RUNNERS + DJ CHRIS EWAN | T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | May 29 at 9 pm | $8 | 617.492.BEAR or

  Topics: Music Features , Anthony Resta, Duran Duran, Greg Hawkes,  More more >
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