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