Interview and photos by Andrew Peters
Drugdealer is Michael Collins, who you might know from his previous incarnations, Run DMT and Salvia Plath.
He’s Drugdealer now—has been for a couple of years—and he’s also more of a band than a solo thing, and more of a collective than a band. Drugdealer’s last album, 2016’s The End of Comedy, featured a bunch of different collaborators (Weyes Blood, Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink, et al.) and created quite a disturbance in the music world when it was released. People dug what Drugdealer was putting down. The group’s next release, Raw Honey (slated for April 19 via Mexican Summer), promises to pick up where The End of Comedy left off, and Monster Children had a quick chat with the Los Angeles-based psych pop balladeer for Issue 62, ‘The Future Issue’, because he makes us feel better about the future of everything.
Are you romantic?
I’m a hopeless romantic. When I was hopping trains for a year, it was basically falling in love with in-between spaces. On a trip like that, you end up in random places—like Baldwin Florida, for instance—and you might meet some old lady that helps you out or lets you stay in her trailer for the night. That’s always been a running trend in my life, really looking for people in a serious way. When I meet someone that completely sweeps me off my feet, I almost can’t handle it. When those people come along its hard for me to keep my composure.
If you had to change the name of your band again in the future, what would it become?
I would probably call it something stupid like The New Poets of Pasadena or Mood Lighting or Alone Time. Oh, I know, I’d probably call it Bad Material.
Do you have a special place to write songs?
No, I use the metaphor that Alan Watts has, where it’s something like ‘trying to catch the wind in a box.’ I don’t wake up and play. For me, it’s all songwriting. It really just comes when it goes. I’ll usually play the same chord progression for, like, three months on piano. And then I’ll be playing between these four chords, slowly changing them. I’ll have a few of these things going, and then, over the course of three months or so, they’ll morph. I might think I’m making four songs, but then over the months, I’ll realise that it’s all one song, or the four things are two songs. I’ll try to bring all those things together, bring the keys together. It’s the kind of stuff that you should be able to just put in a studio and work out daily, but it just doesn’t happen like that. Things need to steep in their juices. A song could be written for years.
What place do you want to travel to the most?
Australia. My bassist, Shags Chamberlain, is a fuckin’ legend from Melbourne. I’ve got a couple of other friends from Sydney, and they’ve convinced me that it’s the capital of people believing in stuff and wanting to enjoy life. A bit of rebellious energy. And all the Australian people I’ve met are just beautiful. They look like they grew right out of the ground.
If you could work on a musical project with someone, who would you collaborate with?
Probably this songwriter named Margo Guryan. I’m pretty obsessed with her music. She’s a 70’s singer-songwriter. She wrote all of her own stuff and has this laid back breezy vibe to her music, but it’s also super romantic. It’s been in my ears for a long time. She follows me on Instagram and likes a lot of my photos. I’ve DM’d her, but she might not know where the messages come in.
Were there any other working titles for the upcoming album, Raw Honey?
Yeah, I wanted to call it You’ve Got to Be Kidding, but everyone voted against it. Shags was like, ‘there’s so much comedy embedded in what you do Mike; that’s a bit over-kill,’ but that’s why I wanted to call it that. I called the last album The End of Comedy because I use comedy as a therapeutic device when things get rough. I thought it was a great follow up, but Shags was like, ‘I think we’ve got something really good here—let’s not fuck it up with one of your stupid ideas.’
What’s the future?
The future’s not what it used to be.