Today’s Feature – April 9-10: Ben Collins

April 11, 2008 at 1:03 am (Today's Feature)

No doubt – Ben Collins is busy as hell (but in no way do I feel for him). First off, he plays in a band like you’ve never heard before, Chronic Future. Second, he helps run one of the most talented young record labels in the country, Modern Art Records. Clearly, two pretty badass jobs.

Modern Art Records, based out of Phoenix, Arizona relies heavily on the local sound, an “ambassador of a scene that is poised to put Phoenix on the map as one of today’s greatest American cities for indie music.” The label boasts an impressive list of artists that include The Cover Up, Back Ted N-Ted, The Medic Droid, Miniature Tigers and of course, Chronic Future. The company is doing some huge things out west, partnering with Epic Records to rally the banner of the Phoenix music scene to the national stage; to bring the completely fresh and pioneering echoes of the region to the limelight.

And Collins has part of that opportunity absolutely in his hands through Chronic Future, a name you’ve probably heard of before. Having past radio hits and appearances on MTV, the band has taken on the role of mentor for several of the groups under Modern Art records. The band’s sound is the definition of different and new, having started the group in the first place with a goal of “offering alternatives,” sometimes through “a three-pronged lead vocal attack that’s surprisingly emotive, dynamic and consistent.”

Check out “Lines in My Face” when you have the chance – you’ll see just how stark a contrast exists on the album when compared to much of the industry. Also check out one of the latest offerings from Modern Art, The Miniature Tigers newly released duel EP, “Black Magic” and “White Magic.” If you’re not from around Phoenix, don’t worry; there’s no way these guys don’t blow up to do huge things. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Chronic Future – Modern Art Records – Ben Collins (PEV): Hey Ben, where’d I catch you right now?

Ben Collins (BC): I’m in my office in Phoenix.

PEV: I’m on your companies site right now for Modern Art. How did you first get started with Modern Art?

BC: It was actually with a guy Brandon Lee that I know from my band Chronic Future.

PEV: And who are you listening to right now?

BC: I would have to say the bands on our label now. I am fortunate I get to work with them.

PEV: Is there one that sticks out over the others as one we should all be looking out for?

BC: I can give you the one that is coming up the soonest, which is The Miniature Tigers. They just released a dual EP last week – The Black Magic EP and the White Magic EP. It is a real good introduction to The Miniature Tigers.

PEV: Tell us more about your work.

BC: My work, I help run Modern Art Records in Phoenix, Arizona. Many people don’t know this but Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the country and probably has the most underrated music scene in the US. We have a monthly event, called First Fridays. There are over a hundred galleries that double for performance spaces; any artists, visual, and musical alike. Modern Art is here to be the flagship of this special movement that is going on here and bring it to a national level. Along with the partnership we have with Epic Records, on the distribution end.

PEV: Tell us about your music side.

BC: I’m in a band called Chronic Future. We’ve been together for thirteen years. As we grew, we put out different records with different labels. Our last one was with Interscope. It’s a rather difficult process for us in that we had success with MTV and radio play but were not really getting the attention we had wanted. In the way of that relationship fiddling away, we developed Modern Art Records, really with the hopes of showing the bands we like from here and the community we are so proud to be a part of. Also to have a greater role as artists and help guide our careers and younger artists, who may experience the pitfalls that we already have.

PEV: Your company boasts a very stacked roster.

BC: Yeah we were lucky to come by at the right time. Our deal with Epic is we have complete freedom with the bands that we sign and the way we market them. And we have with them the backing to market the music at a level that competes with labels. We are not guided by people after dollar signs.

PEV: Tell us how hard it is for an up-coming band to get their voice out there?

BC: I think really, luckily, it has gotten easier. You don’t have to be signed to have a digital release, you can use iTunes. I think the main thing or hardest thing is drawing attention to yourself and marketing yourself. With MySpace and digital distribution in general can really help. The press packets; mailing them out, putting them together can cost thousands of dollars. Then there are places like MySpace… MySpace is the best press packet there is. Now it is just a matter of getting people to open their eyes and notice.

PEV: So, what’s it like for you as a musician, what’s it like for you to play live?

BC: I really like playing live. I truly believe to see the reaction of your music you have to play live. I mean, if someone buys your CD you aren’t there to see them press play for the first time. When you play live, you get to gage those reactions and see the emotion your music brings.

PEV: When traveling, is there a certain city you find to be the best to play?

BC: Of course New York is fantastic. But I actually just got back from Austin which is a great city. There is a lot of energy in their downtown area. But I also like the small places too, like Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a really cool town, most people wouldn’t know that town exists. I like discovering towns that you may not have thought twice about.

PEV: Any pre-show rituals?

BC: Not really. Once we’re kind of in tour mode… I don’t get nervous or anything like that. Warming up vocally is the only constant now.

PEV: How has the band changed from the first year to where you are now?

BC: Musically of course. When we first started out we were thirteen and fourteen. Now we have a lot more experience and have dug into those kinds of bands, from Bowie to the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. We definitely taking it more seriously.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to your success?

BC: You know, one thing I think that we all tried to keep is a kind of normalcy. It just so happens that what we do is talked about in the press and catches people’s attention. For example, my mom, she is a social worker at a hospital and I think what she does has the most, if not more importance than anything in the world but it’s just that she doesn’t have a PR firm, showing the glory of she does. We certainly don’t think anything more of what we do.

PEV: What one word, best describes Chronic Future?

BC: (Laughs)… Oh, wow, one word? I would hope clever (laughs).

PEV: Well, thanks for taking the time out with us Ben, I really appreciate it.

BC: Thank you for having us on.

For more information on Ben Collins, his band Chronic Future and Modern Art Records, check out and


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