When Lost Tape Collective - a New Jersey-based label fueled by the sound of power pop-punk - holds its holiday showcase, it reveals the hidden charms and Christmas cheer of raging bands such as Tiny Moving Parts, Front Porch Step, State Champs, Light Years, and I Call Fives. Mostly, though, this holiday party shows off the good taste and fast-and-furious musicality of the band who function as the bosses of Lost Tape Collective, a band named Man Overboard.
Before Man Overboard's 2008 start, Justin Collier and Zac Eisenstein were pals whose parents also happened to be pals, with everyone into classic rock. "My mom loves Aerosmith and Bad Company," says Collier. "Zac's dad loves Squeeze and Deep Purple, so I feel as if we were both brought up in rock houses." Man Overboard got their start in Mount Laurel, when neighbors Eisenstein (lead singer), Collier (guitarist), and Wayne Wildrick (the other guitarist) reached across the city limits into the wilds of Williamstown to find hard-line bassist Nik Bruzzese. "There was always a scene in New Jersey for emo and stuff, but we were mainly involved in punk and hard-core," Eisenstein says. As for drummers, Man Overboard has been through a number of them à la Spinal Tap. Joe Talarico currently acts as the man with sticks. ("I don't think he worried about exploding," Eisenstein says. "I don't think Joe thinks about anything but PlayStation 4 and drums.")
Whether it's their first EP, Hung Up on Nothing, their 2011 self-titled debut album, or the most recent EP, Passing Ends, two things stay steady about Man Overboard. One is that none of their songs goes beyond three minutes, as each tune spins manically toward its finish line. Will Man Overboard play its renowned cover of the Kinks' "Father Christmas," from their Punk Goes Christmas album? Collier laughs and says, "I don't think so. That song's, like, four minutes long - too much for our short punk-rock minds." The other thing is their lyrics, full of sarcasm, sadness, and stoic realism. Check out the chorus of "Atlas":
Maybe I'll learn how to talk to people
Maybe I'll learn how to laugh
Maybe I'll end up like my dad
But I just don't feel like a grown-up yet.
Then there's "For Vince," which is about Bruzzese's father, who died this year. "We have our Web store, office, and studio in a building that Vince owned," Collier says, "so when we were home from tour, we were always there with Vince. He taught us a lot, and we miss him every day."
Man Overboard started Lost Tape Collective in 2010, "as a way to not only release our songs when we wanted to," Collier says, "but also that of bands that we enjoy and respect." It now has a catalog of 50 releases. Saturday night's party will be a true label reunion. I Call Fives are old friends of Collier's from the Jersey area, but Saturday will be the first time he has met Minnesota's Tiny Moving Parts, Ohio's acoustic Front Porch Step, and New York's State Champs. It's a great way to get to know the family.