Q+A: Planet Smashers – Stomping it Out for 20+ Years
For 20 years now, Matt Collyer has had a hell of a lot of responsibility – that’s not something many musicians crave. But, sometimes if you want to help your band and its scene gain the traction it needs, a responsible soul should take the wheel.
Since 1995, Collyer has been the label boss at Montreal’s Stomp Records and the leader of popular indie ska act, Planet Smashers. Talk about being a busy dude.
As Collyer and his Planet Smashers mates prepare for a few more Stomp Records 20th anniversary tour dates, we stole some time with him to discuss his label’s beginnings; balancing a band and business; and new music.
RY: Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of Stomp! When you started the label, how much of it had to do with giving Planet Smashers a place to call home versus giving likeminded bands a label to represent them?
Matt: “It was a bit of both. Back in 1995 both the Planet Smashers and Kingpins (also from Montreal) were looking for a label to release their music and there were no takers! So we kind of teamed up and started Stomp. Originally Stomp was just a dummy label…it was just supposed to make the bands look ‘real.’ But within weeks, things changed pretty quickly!”
RY: How often over the years have you looked back and thought, ‘Man, I should’ve just been a guy in a band,’ or ‘Man, I should just run a label’? Or, do you function best with both in your life?
Matt: “Every day I wish I was just a guy in a band, but that’s just a dream. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really fun working at the label, but it’s still a job. Being in the Smashers is a permanent party.”
RY: How do you balance your Stomp obligations with your Planet Smashers ones?
Matt: “Well…Stomp obligations seem more real than Smasher ones. I mean, if I f’up a Smasher obligation then I can only get mad at myself. But for Stomp, if I screw up then I’ve got a van full of angry punks/skins at my door demanding my head on their plate. So I give them (my co-worker) Lora’s. Kidding.”
RY: Planet Smashers have already played a number of the Stomp 20th anniversary tour shows. What’s been your fondest memory from those gigs thus far?
Matt: “Getting blind drunk and telling everyone that we’ll be friends forever!!! Okay, okay, but seriously, I’d have to go with seeing Subb play again and getting a chance to get blind drunk with them and not remembering what I said.”
RY: As a musician and label boss you’re surrounded by a lot of young, up and coming bands. What’s the biggest, best piece of advice you attempt to offer all of them?
Matt: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Do this and you’ll be your best critic. You won’t get upset about eating shit sandwiches on your first few tours and you won’t get in a fight with your drummer.”
RY: Not a lot of independent bands in Canada can say they have as excellent a fan base as what Planet Smashers have. What do you think it is about your band that brings people in and keeps them there?
Matt: “Well…I’d like to think it’s our handsome faces…but I think it’s cause we generally make people want to dance, party and get hammered.”
RY: Planet Smashers released Mixed Messages last year. Creatively, what did you hope to achieve with that album and do you think you got there?
Matt: “The goal was to not write a shitty ska album! Most people seem to like it or parts of it, which is cool, so I think we got there. We did a couple experimental tracks on there, which is the norm for a Smasher album, but in general we tried to stick true to the Smasher-ska-formula. No need to break any legs with a 3/4 ska beat. Or do some swing. Shudder!”
RY: How much thought have you put toward the next Planet Smashers album?
Matt: “Yes! We’re supposed to be writing new tunes right now. I want a bunch of new tunes that make people laugh, dance, and party hard.”
Nov 20th – Toronto @ Lee’s Palace – w/ Planet Smashers, The Creepshow, Beatdown
Nov 21st – London @ Call The Office – w/ Planet Smashers, The Creepshow, Beatdown