You may not know the name Collide, but if you’ve been watching NCIS (the #1 television show in America) then you have undoubtedly heard their music. A long-time fixture of the Goth-industrial scene in the U.S., the L.A.-based duo of Karin (vocals) and Statik (electronics and beats) serves up a catchy blend of sounds that define their name: ethereal, sensual singing gliding over pulsating grooves, gritty guitars and driving electronic sounds.
Fifteen years, five studio albums, two remix releases, one side project and one live CD and DVD into their career, the group is still going strong. Their music has stretched into different areas, they have performed with a live group since 2004 and their latest effort, a covers album called These Eyes Before, is actually a breath of fresh air as opposed to a cheap cash-in. They could have done covers appropriate to their chosen genre, which many bands would have, but instead they tackled everything from The Beatles’ “Come Together” to Radiohead’s “Creep” to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”. And the tracks snarl a lot more than you’d think, with some of the grittiest sounds the group has conjured since their rockin’ debut Beneath The Skin, employing their blend of goth, techno, ambient and rock sounds to good effect.
Taking time out from their busy lives, kaRIN and Statik gave ADD the lowdown on their new release, their thoughts on NCIS and a glimpse into their future.
When many artists do a covers album, it’s usually a stopgap release done for extra cash. But These Eyes Before feels like a revitalization for Collide because it’s a bit more rockin’ than some of your recent work and brings out more of the inherent contrasts in your sound. Why did you decide to do a covers album and pick the songs that you did?
kaRIN: We had wanted to do a complete cover album for awhile. We have already done several full lengths, a couple of remix CDs, a live CD and a side project, so it seemed like good timing. We went through a very long list of songs to choose songs that we both loved and felt we could work with.
Statik: A big part of it was that it was just fun. It’s wasn’t about writing a song. It was about taking something that we knew and seeing what we could do with it — how to put our own spin on it. For me, it’s two different parts of my brain: the writing part and then the arranging and mixing part.
What was the most challenging song to cover and why?
kaRIN: For me, it was “Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing” because the timing is so specific. I love to make my own timing in a song and weave in and out vocally to find my own path. Statik, on the other hand, is very rhythmic — must come from his many years of being a band leader at his school. It is one of our many differences.
Statik: I don’t think there was one that was particularly challenging. They all had their own things to work out. “Breathe” seemed simple, but was really hard to get the mix just right. There weren’t that many parts, but I had a really hard time getting the relationship between the guitars and keys, and the different drum parts to all work together.
Statik, what challenges were involved with recorded and integrating the Putnam City North High School marching band into “Tusk”?
Statik: I had the song done in rough form, with the band parts templated in. I then gave that to an arranger who had to write out the parts for the band. I set a tempo, and the band performed to the bass player who was hearing the click. They recorded it across the country, so for ease of editing and mixing, we decided to do a few takes of just drums, one without the drums and some with the whole band. That way I could mix and edit pretty easily. In the end I was really happy with it. I had always wanted to incorporate a marching band into one of our songs.
While Collide has been a staple of the Goth-industrial underground for 15 years, you are slowly getting known to the masses. How has having your music used on NCIS helped you, and is it leading to bigger and better things?
kaRIN: Every bit helps. We absolutely love NCIS. They have a loveable, smart perky Goth character Abby [Pauley Perrette] who listens to our music in her lab. As we speak we just heard today that they will be using our music in the episode of NCIS: Los Angeles where Abby goes to a goth club called “Steampunk”. They will be playing a few Collide songs.
Statik: Slowly is the keyword there. I think in another 15 years, we will be downright well known. As far as NCIS or other TV shows, I’m not sure that it helps get us more well known. For the most part, I don’t hear any music on a TV show and know who they are. It’s not like there are credits for that. The biggest benefit is probably the extra income. As file sharing goes up and actual CD sales go down, we need all of the help we can get.
The Goth look gets bigger every year, such as with Pauley Perrette on NCIS, yet the music never seems to. Why is that? Do you see it changing?
kaRIN: Hmm, good question. Yes, visually Goth does get bigger with all the vampire stuff out right now and in fashion. Funny how the media loves the look but does not always embrace the music. It is definitely a credit to NCIS and the music supervisors there that they have a Goth character and keep the music authentic. It has become the number one show on TV, so they must be doing something right.
Statik: I know I shouldn’t say it, but umm…a lot of Goth music is really bad.
Statik, you have done programming for artists as varied as Michael Jackson, Prince and Tool. What recent remixes have you worked on?
Statik: I worked on a Tear Garden remix for a CD that cEvin Key is putting out on his Subconscious label called “Have a Nice Trip”. kaRIN also did guest vocals on it. Other than that, there hasn’t been anything besides Collide for quite a while.
Karin, how is your jewelry business doing?
kaRIN: Great. We have expanded so much and now also do clothing, leather items and cases. You can see them on my design site. I am lucky to have several creative outlets that I am totally passionate about.
How was The Secret Meeting side project received, and will we hear more from it in the future?
Statik: I don’t think a lot of people still know about it, unfortunately. For those who don’t know, The Secret Meeting is us (Collide) and Dean Garcia (from Curve). So there. Now you know.
kaRIN: We were very pleased and loved working with Dean. Besides being super talented and prolific, he is such a sweet person, and we have all become good friends. Recently we (Noiseplus Music) helped release Dean’s latest project SPC ECO with his daughter Rose, who has a beautiful, angelic voice. We are hoping to do another Secret Meeting release, and Dean has let us know that he is interested as well. So we will see — if it’s meant to be, it will be.
How has performing with a live band over the last few years broadened your horizons as musicians?
kaRIN: It gave me a whole new experience of what playing live would be like, and now we have new friends to hang out with.
Statik: I wouldn’t say that it broadened my horizons as a musician. Our shows made me realize how tough going on tour is though.
Are there any dream projects you’d like to do?
kaRIN: I would like to work with Massive Attack.
Statik: I hesitate to say. Somehow, working and meeting someone you really respect brings them down to “human” level. I’ve met people who I really admired musically, and after meeting them in person it really tainted how I feel about their music. And I don’t like it as much. Or I should say, it just seemed like some of the magic went away.
What do you think your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
kaRIN: We think we are funny.
Statik: That we’re not that funny.
What’s coming up from Collide in the future?
kaRIN: More creating! Working on a full CD takes so much of our time and energy and sometimes can feel all consuming, and we can’t wait to get done. Somehow, though, as soon as we are done I can’t wait to create again, which is how I know I am totally and utterly creatively addicted.
Statik: I have an idea for the next CD, but I’m not sure if kaRIN is down with it. At the moment, I’m taking just a wee break before getting back into the creating mode, to recharge my brain a little.
kaRIN: I have a new idea, too. So maybe if he does my idea, we can do his idea. Can’t tell yet though.
Statik: I’m not telling you or anyone else, otherwise, where would the surprise be? You’re all just going to have to wait.