Allow me to introduce you to North Collins, the husband and wife duo of Celine George and Robert Pycior (O’Death, Skeletonbreath). Following years of collaborating within the confines of their Rochester, NY home, Pycior and George have recently set out on their first U.S. tour as North Collins with their debut album to come later this fall. Currently, the non album track “Submerged Strings” is the only song available on the internet to hint at what’s to come on their record.
While the cinematic instrumental song provides a brief glimpse into the cryptic atmosphere of North Collins it is merely a hint at what’s to come. The band recently sent me three album cuts and they were exceptional. Decidedly more poppy than “Submerged Strings,” the songs showcase the duo’s ability to craft a unique blend of influences ranging from Stravinsky to Meat Puppets to Morricone. With vocals often sung in unison, North Collins’ songs contain a magnificent intimacy while also being ornately composed. Atmospherically, the songs contain a cryptic nature, as though inhabiting an old mountain house with creaky floorboards. In fact, “Wild One” instantly had me thinking of it as Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” if reimagined for a haunted house.
The duo will be making their way all around the country with a stop in Santa Fe on October 25th at Teatro Paraguas with Johnny Bell (Cloacas) and Luke Carr (Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand). This promises to be a wonderfully intimate concert. More info and ticket link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1016452351709133/
The members of North Collins recently answered a few of my questions while in-between stops on the long road.
Mecca Lecca: Considering that you’re husband and wife, I imagine you must jam together quite a bit, but is North Collins your first serious collaboration together?
Celine George: North Collins is our first project together. We’ve been jamming, woodshedding, songwriting together for years and it’s all been put into this project thus far.
ML: You just headed out on the road from Rochester on your first U.S. tour. What are you most looking forward to?
Robert Pycior: I’ve toured the nation many times with my other bands but this is our first continental tour or trip together. I’m most excited for Celine to see these uniquely different cities like Seattle, Santa Fe, New Orleans… And, as always, very excited to share our music with people in these different locations. On this tour we’re playing a diverse array of venues: clubs, bars, art spaces, auditoriums, houses… It’s a rewarding process to hone our ever-evolving live act to these different spaces and audiences.
ML: I imagine playing a pretty diverse array of venues is pretty relieving, and allows each performance to really have its own unique identity rather than turning into a blur of repetition. Do you have a favorite type of space to perform in?
RP: I don’t think there’s ever a single type of venue that’s my favorite. I do like spaces and bills that involve different mediums. We just played an art space in Seattle called “Society of Wonder” that had music, spoken word, live visual art; some of which overlapping. That was fun and fulfilling.
ML: The “teaser track” on bandcamp has a cryptic ambient folk sound. Is that a good hint at the atmosphere of the upcoming debut album?
CG: Yes, many tracks on the album have, as you aptly put it, a cryptic ambient folk sound. There are a couple instrumental tracks very similar to the teaser. Though this cryptic and sometimes bleak vibe frequently exists the music is very melodic, hooky at times, and often optimistic.
ML: And on that note, when will your debut be seeing the light of day?
CG: Still TBD. Will have record with us, but I should have official info shortly.
ML: Robert, you’ve also been in O’Death and Skeletonbreath (both of which I love). What has been the biggest difference between playing with those bands and with Celine?
RP: The biggest difference is my role and logistical involvement. Ten years ago o’death and skeletonbreath did a joint national tour, a DIY tour. And Skeletonbreath continued for years to book DYI. I did very little of the booking itself. Now I’m running through the old mental and digital rolodex from all these years of touring; all the friends I’ve made to put this thing together. we’re still booking some later shows for this tour right now.
I’m also playing a lot of guitar and singing as opposed to just the violin. I’m still doing violin but even that’s done a little differently.
ML: The three album cuts I’ve now heard have a pretty wide ranging palette, from orchestral to folk to pop. In terms of influences, what would you say each of you brings to the sound of North Collins?
RP: In regards to influences, Big Blood, Igor Stravinsky, Tom Waits, Ennio Moricone, Pet Sounds, Brown Bird, Carter Burwell, Television, Meat Puppets, Neil Young… I’m sure a ton more but that’s a solid start.
ML: What is your live set up like for the tour? All live instrumentation?
RP: All instrumentation is live for this tour. We have deconstructed it a bit. We play the folky side with 2 electric guitars, vocals, and feet percussion. I bookend the set with the orchestral side with a looping violin.