Friday, December 08, 2006

Tablet Interview: If You Don't Already Have a Mick Collins, V2

Here's another alternate/unpublish-
ed profile. In this case, Tablet went
under shortly after I submitted it
to the music editor, so I created
this blog specifically to provide a
home for the complete transcript
and other ramblings. Since the
original piece never saw the
light of day, it only makes sense to post it here as well.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I've been a Mick Collins fan ever since I stumbled across the
Gories' Houserockin' back in 1989. Since then, the multi-talent-
ed musician has been involved with a number of groups, most
notably Blacktop and the Dirtbombs. What they all have in
common are his impassioned vocals and impressively eclectic
taste. The new double-disc compilation, If You Don't Already
Have a Look, offers a convenient snapshot of one of America's
finest rock bands in all their messy, magnificent glory. I recently
had a chat with Collins, via email, about the CD and other topics.

Most people who are familiar with your work are aware
of the Alex Chilton connection (1990's I Know You Fine,
But How You Doin'). How did that come about?

A mutual friend played him a copy of Houserockin' one
night and, so the story goes, he flipped. He got us the re-
cord deal with New Rose on the condition that he be the
producer, and got in touch with us shortly thereafter.

Have you been in touch since?

We see each other occasionally (the last time in a bar in NYC)...

Is there any other producer you'd like to work with?

The producers I would most like to work with are Nick Lowe
(possibly the only human alive to whom I would willingly hand
over control of a mix of one of MY songs), RZA, and Ry Cooder.

Could you live anywhere other than Detroit?

That question for me is fraught with political and spiritual
overtones right now, and so I'll give you the most honest
answer I can. While it's possible I could live someplace
other than Detroit, it's unlikely I would be happy more
than 90 minutes away from one of the Great Lakes.

Have you met any of the legends of Detroit music? I'm
guessing many have moved/passed since their heyday.

I met Rob Tyner a couple of times, George Clinton
a couple of times (once while in line at a Chinese
restaurant), Kim Weston once, Pat Lewis once.

From the start, you've done a lot of covers and you've
tackled some great stuff. Are you constantly listening
to music when you aren't playing, composing, and/or
performing, or does a lot of it just come to you—from
your past, things you've heard on the radio, etc.?

I am constantly listening to music. (As I'm writing this, I'm
listening to a record called Dub the Millennium - Manasseh
Meets the Equaliser. After that, it'll either be a Comets on
Fire tour record, or a compilation of psychedelic music
from Africa.) I listen to all types. I have almost 7,000
LPs, and I'm buying more records all the time.

Speaking of which, did
you consider putting
"Executioner of Love"
and "King's Lead Hat"
on If You Don't Al-
ready Have a Look? I
have the Dangerous
Magical Noise CD with
the bonus tracks, so I
didn't notice at first, but they're two of your best covers.

Well, they SHOULD have been on there, but there was...
an the pressing plant, and so a lot more copies
came out with the bonus tracks than originally planned.

Who's the stone-faced guy with the gray hair in the
CD booklet? My guess: Kim Fowley. Or his doppel-
a rather scary thought, come to think of it.

Yeah, it's Fowley. He's come to see us numerous times. He's great.

And speaking of the CD packaging, I just noticed
the photograph of Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt.
Uhuru) hidden behind the second disc. Nice touch!
Did you get permission from the powers that be to
reproduce it or are you hoping they won't find out?

I had nothing to do with the packaging, it was all done in-house at
In the Red. I didn't even get to sign off on it. They just called and
said, "We're sending you a printer's proof, you're gonna love it."

You've spent over half your life as a working musician.
If things hadn't worked out, is there any other career
you'd have liked to pursue? On that note, in the liner
notes, you say you'll pull the plug on the Dirtbombs
once the band has achieved the goals you've set
out for them. Would you then go solo, retire...?

I like to think I could just go back into IT if I ever really sour-
ed on the music business, but it would be hard. I'm not lacking
in non-Dirtbombs projects. Plans are underway for a second
Voltaire Brothers record, I have a techno record coming out
later this year, and I'm about to start recording my other
rock band, Man Ray Man Ray, so hopefully, on the day I
decide to demise the Dirtbombs, nobody will notice.

Lastly, any misconceptions about yourself that you'd
like to clear up? Or anything you'd like people to know?

Not off the top of my head. Something will
come to me an hour from now, though...

The Dirtbombs have now been together for over a decade—and as
many as 17 line-ups. (Their newest member is guitarist Ko Shih,
from Ko and the Knockouts, who appears to be fitting right in.) In
the liner notes for If You Don’t Already Have a Look, which con-
sists entirely of singles, Collins explains that he prefers making se-
ven-inches to LPs, but more than anything—he prefers playing
live. So if you get the chance, do whatever you can to catch Col-
lins in concert, doing what he does best and loves the most.

Endnote: Illustration from I-94, photo from In Music We
. Click here for the transcript and here for a related post.

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