DS Exclusive Interview:  Matt Collyer (The Planet Smashers)

DS Exclusive Interview: Matt Collyer (The Planet Smashers)

Things either work or they don’t.  It’s really as simple as that when you get down to it.  After touring heavily off “Unstoppable” Montreal ska outfit, The Planet Smashers set out to record the follow-up and it just didn’t work.  The band took some much need time out and have come back stronger than ever with their follow-up album “Descent Into The Valley Of The Planet Smashers.”

There is a video in the works, new material for the Ska’s Dead series but most importantly their first ever Australian tour kicks off tomorrow night.  We recently spoke to one of the Smashers masterminds, Matt Collyer about the band, the pending Australian tour, the new album and keeping up with a changing music industry.  Read the full interview here.

Five years is a long time between drinks and it definitely felt like a long time for Planet Smashers fans but 2011 saw the Montreal natives release their first album in half a decade.  It’s hard to believe that it would take such an established band five years to follow-up a release but sometimes you just can’t hurry genius.  “Our last one [Unstoppable] was released in 2005, we toured it pretty hard till 2007 then we tried to write a new record and it didn’t happen.  We just wrote crappy songs, the feeling wasn’t there so we postponed it.  The band kind of fizzled out as it does; everyone went their separate ways then in late 2009 we started talking about it again.  It took about a year for us to actually commit and we did it.”  Matt said.

“It” being “Descent Into The Valley Of The Planet Smashers,” which is an album that reminds fans why they loved the Smashers in the first place.  It has all the ridiculously fun elements you’d expect from a Smashers album but there is more to it than that Matt explains, “we looked at the other records the Smashers did and we tried to embody all the live stuff.  We tried to do a lot of different things over the years, with ska.  On this record we focused on what was fun about the Smashers live shows and we tried to record a more live sounding record.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still some joke tracks and the opening track is Swedish Death Metal, there’s a hardcore track on there called “Food Fight” but the rest of the tracks are very Smashers.”

After their 5 year hiatus, coming back to the recording process was completely natural for the band.  Matt happily admits that “Descent…” is by far, the easiest record they’ve ever recorded and attributes it to the attitude of the band when they came together in the studio,  “At the time there were just too many ideas coming out of everywhere, in general it was a really positive thing.  All these ideas that had been kicking around in our heads for the last 5 years so we picked through them, tossed out the bad ones, picked the good ones and I think there is still another album there of good ideas that we didn’t do because there was just too much traffic of good ideas.  It made it so easy.  We were in there, it was so easy, and there was no stress.  We planned 3 days in there to do drums and we did it in 1 1/2 .  Everything went really smooth; doing it again I don’t know if it would be that good,” Matt said.

The Planet Smashers arrive down under today for the very first time to the delight of many long-time Australian fans but the band are probably just as excited to make the trek as the fans who have been waiting 17 years for them to make it.  “We’re heading down to Australia soon as you know.  We’re playing Brisbane on October 27th.  That’s really exciting for us. “  But even they don’t know what to expect from their first trip to the country, “.  I get tids and bits from other people that go and really don’t have a clear idea of what to expect.  Obviously the stereotypes like I want to see a kangaroo and I want to see a koala bear and other things like weird spiders being in my shoe but other than that I don’t know what to expect.”

“I was just told to wear my shoes all the time.  There is a band from Australia called The Resignators who we play shows with and they’ve been up here a couple of times who joke around and play on the stereotypes.  How much of it is real and how much of it is them trying to make you freak out a bit?  It’s all in good fun so it should be cool,” Matt said.  Australia – don’t try to con Matt into believing drop bears exist, I’ve already taken care of that.

Jokes aside, The Planet Smashers are veterans of the ska scene and have seen the scene move in waves from being super popular to almost non-existent.  Outside of the band, Matt is also the founder of Stomp Records,  an extremely hard working label and has been a constant in the Montreal ska scene when others abandoned it.  “In some ways it’s changed a lot and in some ways it hasn’t really changed at all.  We went through the ska boom and got really, really busy.  Everyone wanted pieces of every single ska band out there then it died and nobody want to do anything with it.  We just kept on ploughing through the whole thing.  Montreal is seeing another ska boom going on which is really cool and it’s spreading across the country which is nice,” Matt told us.

As with most record labels, changes in the music industry mean that they’ve had to change their practice and expand their offering in order to stay viable.  Matt describe how they’ve achieved a balance within the current music industry, “it’s definitely been a challenge to do a record label in these times, it’s harder.  What we’ve done recently is we’ve moved into management and opened a booking agency out of the office.  Music is still the cool thing, where we get to release records that we like, that’s what we want to continue doing.  Fortunately we’ve been lucky enough to work with bands like The Creepshow and Bedouin Soundclash up here through the years who are really good bands.  We’re honest, we work hard and there is still a need for it.”

The Planet Smashers first Australian tour kicks off tomorrow night in Brisbane followed by the rest of the east coast including Ska Nation; check out the full run of dates and venues here.

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