For Max Collins, longtime singer and bassist of Eve 6, this year marks an opportunity to explore new musical ground. The musician will unveil his debut solo album, Honey From The Ice Box, bolstered by a Pledge Music campaign to help finance and promote the disc. After finishing a tour with Eve 6 on New Year’s Eve, Max began penning the tracks that appear on the record, an evitable release from the prolific musician. The songs on the album emerged quickly and organically, pouring out in January as Max spent time at home with his guitar. The musician penned ten tracks in a month, feeling his inspiration click. “It definitely seemed like a lot of songs were just happening,” Max says. “It was clear – now is the time for me to make the record that I’ve wanted to make for a long time. People are often surprised when I talk about my musical influences, from Crowded House to Steve Earle to The Lemonheads. I feel this record really captures my soul and points more directly to the artists that have moved me. It’s entirely uncompromised.”
Max, who funded the recording himself, co-produced the album with Eve 6 guitarist Jon Siebels and enlisted a slew of musicians to accompany him in Estudio in East Los Angeles in February. Brian Young of Fountains of Wayne and Jesus and Mary Chain played drums while Nick Johns, who tours with Ben Lee, contributed keyboards. The initial plan was to lay down four tracks – enough for an EP – but the songs came together so easily and quickly that Max ended up with an entire album after only three weeks. Much of the disc was recorded with a live sensibility, using vocal takes from the drum sessions. In the end, even Max was surprised by how organic and sincere the album sounds. “It feels like the songs were like little gifts,” Max says. “ It was just a really natural creative experience, I guess. It felt like it just happened, everything about it.”
The album reveals new facets of Max’s songwriting, showcasing a broad range of stylistic influences and sensibilities. “Push It Down,” which illuminates the musician’s feelings about pursuing something outside of his formative band, is a buoyantly catchy acoustic rocker while “Perfect Crime,” which is about the perception of innocence in others but not yourself, glistens with pop hooks and a soaring sing-along chorus. “At The Sports Bar,” a number Max feels has a dreamlike quality, is country-tinged folk rock song and the sparser “Walking Away” reveals the songwriter’s introspective side. The overall disc, driven by glimmering pop melodies and hooky acoustic riffs, brings Max into new sonic territory, exploring a more personal side of the musician’s musical aesthetic. The album’s title, a repurposed quote from the Jeffrey Eugenides popular novel Middlesex, ties it all together.
“It’s a disguised homage,” Max says. “In Middlesex, one of the characters is talking about his sister being with a guy who’s interested in his sister and he says, ‘She’s honey from the ice box. Cold sweets don’t spread.’ I thought it had an evocative energy to it and felt like a metaphor for songwriting. In that way, it connects to the album.”
Max, who has released five albums with Eve 6 since their inception in 1995, including 2012’s Speak In Code, plans to tour Honey From The Ice Box with a full band. For him, this album represents the beginning of something, an initiation into what he hopes will be an extensive solo career that will eventually yield more music. “My goal is to be able to have a solo career that’s characterized by consistent effort,” Max says. “I write all the time and this process was so gratifying for me. I’d like to develop a new relationship with my fans in this context and hopefully make some new ones.”