Man Overboard's Justin Collier on Pop Punk, New Jersey, and New Found Glory

Man Overboard, a Garden State pop punk group, is enjoying a whirlwind career. After touring with New Found Glory last year, the band just wrapped up a series of shows in the UK, and is gearing up for its first American headlining tour.

The group has released 50 or 60 songs since it formed in 2008 and continues to tour constantly. Through August 5, the last day of Warped Tour, Man Overboard is planning on playing 110 shows this year.

One of those stops is Wednesday, February 29 at The Underground, so we caught up with guitarist Justin Collier to discuss New Jersey music scene, touring, and the nature of pop punk.

Up on the Sun: How was the UK?

Justin Collier: It was great. We actually just got back a couple hours ago. I landed at noon, so I've been home for like two hours now after running around dropping everybody off. But the tour was great, it was thirteen shows and they were all awesome. Were there any cities you liked in particular?

There's a couple places that we always have really good shows like London, Kingston, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, and then we played some newer places on this tour. We played Bristol, Liverpool, Brighton, some places that we really haven't played before and those were a total delight, also really good.

Tell me a little bit more about the Pop Punk the Vote Tour that you have coming up.

It's our first proper headline tour and it's not full US, but it's most of the US. We picked the Pop Punk the Vote Tour name because we wanted kids to get interactive and involved with the tour, so you can go online to the poppunkthevote.tumblr.com and vote for the songs we that play, the tour t-shirt and stuff like that. Kids can...they're not just buying a ticket and coming to see some bands play a show, they're actually getting involved in the songs that they're going to hear and the things they can buy and stuff like that. Are all of your songs fair game?

We've put out four LPs worth of material in the last two or two and a half years, so we have like 50 or 60 songs. We picked about a dozen songs that we're definitely going to play every night, and then we picked about 15 songs that we put up for vote. Of those 15, we'll probably pick 5 or 6 of those, so we play 18 songs or something like that every night. Definitely not every song is up for vote, but a pretty fair amount of them.

What was it like hitting the road with New Found Glory?

I think it's what most people expect. It's an honor, it was pretty crazy for us because that's a band that we grew up listening to, so it was wild to be on tour sharing a stage with them and hanging out and doing the routine of being on tour every day for a month and a half, so it was great. You don't just get to watch a band that you love every night, you look up to them and watch the things that they do, and you learn from them so you can better your own band. They've been a band for 15 years or so, so we're a band that hopes to do what we do for that long. We definitely tried to pick up as many tips and pointers as we could.

A big motif on your site and your merch is "Defend Pop Punk." Is that to try to keep the genre alive?

It started out as just a t-shirt design that was a rip off from a band called Most Precious Blood that made a Defend Hardcore t-shirt. There's been other ones like Defend New Orleans and Defend Brooklyn and all this stuff. It wasn't a completely original idea, but we made those shirts and kids really took to them and kind of made it bigger than we had ever intended.

So now we use it as a vehicle to promote the current pop punk scene. It unites the kids in a way because if you go to a show and you don't know somebody and you see a kid in Defend Pop Punk t-shirt, you say, 'hey that kid likes Man Overboard,' or 'that kid likes pop punk and I can go talk to them.' It's made itself into a little community based around the current revival of the pop punk scene.

A lot of great punk bands have come out of New Jersey. Saves the Day, The Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls, I can go and on. Why do you think that is? Is there something in the water or is there a good community out there?

I think there is a really good community, and I think because of the great community it makes you as a musician and as a band member work harder to be better. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America and there's a ton of people everywhere, which means there's a ton of bands, so if you go out there and play and your band sucks, then there's going to be a lot of people that tell you, 'hey you guys suck, I'm going to go listen to this band instead.' I think our area is pretty competitive, which aides to the fact that you have to be a better band to really get anywhere, so I think that may be part of the reason why we have so many good bands.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum