Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh will probably remember 2014 as the year when their whole lives changed. Both of them are about to graduate from college; in March, three members of their six-year-old punk band, Tigers Jaw, quit, and Brianna and Ben had to figure out what to do next.
Before leaving for good, the band’s departing members agreed to record their last album as a five-piece; Charmer comes out on June 3 on Run for Cover Records. As a li’l preview, here’s the WORLD PREMIERE of Tigers Jaw’s new video, “Hum” (directed, shot, and edited by Alex Henery).
The good news is that Brianna and Ben have decided to keep making music as Tigers Jaw, but as a duo this time. I talked to Brianna last week about the important things in life: Britney Spears, first loves, and Twin Peaks.
PAULA MEIJA: What was your first instrument?
BRIANNA COLLINS: We had a piano at my parents’ house, and when I was eight my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. When I was 12, I wanted to take guitar lessons, but I was doing a million extracurricular activities and my mom said, “One instrument at a time.” So I took piano lessons for about eight years. I just moved in with my boyfriend, and we’re trying to get a piano. I love classical piano and the weight of real keys instead of my Casio. During college, I got a little guitar during one of our tours. I play a little bass in the band too, now.
Do you remember when you realized that music was more than a hobby for you?
I’ve always loved music. Pop music was the first thing I really fell in love with: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera. My first concert was the Spice Girls, and then ’N Sync. I loved hearing the music live. I love performance. A lot of my friends had older siblings, and a lot of what they listened to influenced me, too—like Brand New, when I was in seventh grade. That marked a pivotal change in my taste, where I felt really connected to lyrics. I went to my first ska show then. It was a local band. I crowd-surfed! I made friends through that [scene] and started going to more shows. I grew up in a super-small town [Scranton, Pennsylvania], so we had to drive out a bit sometimes. I was really lucky my mom trusted this outlet and let me go to shows!
I met the Tigers Jaw guys when I was 14 through a mutual friend, and we started talking on AIM really casually. Their keyboardist had just quit, and they had a show coming up at Café Metropolis, this place I loved. I told them I played piano, and they asked me to play with them. I was super nervous, but after I played the show, I loved it. They asked me to join the band after that. I loved going to shows, but I had never thought about being in a band. In retrospect, I should have started another band along with playing in Tigers Jaw. It would have been cool to do an all-girl band with my friends.
What were you thinking about while you were writing and recording Charmers?
This was the first time I wrote lyrics. Not a lot of them, but it was a really good feeling being part of that. This is the last record having the five of us on it, making these songs, with this dynamic. I’m so happy we did it, but I’m excited for the next chapter of Tigers Jaw, to feel more involved in the whole process of writing. I’m excited to put more of myself into the band.
You talk a lot about Twin Peaks on this record.
I’m in love with how strange that show is—the little details, the relationships between the characters. We try not to overdo it, but we did a shirt last year that had the opening scene but with our band’s name on it, and we have a windbreaker this tour with the Bookhouse Boys patch on it.
How have you managed to balance being in school and in the band at the same time?
We’ve always worked around the schedule of school—we’ve never toured in the fall or the spring—but it’s been hard to say no to things. I’m happy we decided to finish school, though. Now I’m a certified teacher, and Ben did a five-year master’s program. Now that that’s done, we’ll finally be able to do some bigger tours!
What do you wish someone had told you as a teenager?
Things aren’t going to stay the same, but you’re going to be OK. And your first boyfriend won’t be your last. ♦