Charlie Mock talks to the New Jersey pop punk crew about defending pop punk.
You can ignore pop punk all you like, but New Jersey’s Man Overboard – along with their ‘Defend Pop Punk’ mantra – are making sure that it’s one genre that won’t be disappearing any time soon. At least, not on their watches.
‘Throughout the years it’s always been there’ vocalist Nik Bruzzese says, ‘no matter the different types of music that come up, pop punk was there the whole time’. And he’s right. Whether it’s The All American Rejects that take your fancy or We Are The In Crowd with their synth-fuelled spin on the sound, pop punk has been successfully churning out bands for nearly two decades. That doesn’t mean to say it hasn’t evolved, though. ‘Blink kind of set the way for live bands. You watch their shows and you can tell how many bands rip them off in their own, weird way; you’ve just got to find your own niche.’ And Man Overboard have done just that. Honing their catchy hooks and pop melodies, they’ve mastered the chorus and created a live show that holds its own without want for ‘funny dick jokes.’
But, like their contemporaries, Blink 182 must have been a huge influence. ‘Of course! Them and a big list of all the other pop punk bands out there. We never thought that we’d get to where we are so we thought, yeah, let’s call ourselves Man Overboard.’ What better way to pay homage to the pop punk pioneers themselves? ‘I should probably try and learn that song though’ Bruzzese admits sheepishly about the track that gave them their name.
You don’t need to look very far to see that Man Overboard have come a long way in just a few years. Having made it to the Top 10 in the Billboard Independent Albums chart with their 2013 release ‘Heart Attack,’ they’re only dreaming bigger. The pop-punkers have worked with Steve Klein (of New Found Glory fame) on several previous releases and they aren’t planning on stopping there. ‘We always talk about different people that we would love to have produce songs. The other day we were talking about Rivers Cuomo. If Rivers was like, “Yeah, I like your band!” we’d be freaking out.’
Working with big names and selling out shows hasn’t gone to their heads, though. ‘Fast forward and we’re like, oh my God!’ Nik says about the band’s recent success. They’ve not long finished touring with veterans on the scene Mayday Parade and are back out on the road for a US tour with All Time Low and Handguns later this month. For Man Overboard, staying in one place for long just isn’t an option.
So, what’s coming up next for the band? ‘We’ll be in the studio when we get home. After this tour we’ve got six weeks off so we’ll sit in my studio, hanging out, figuring life out!’ If the self-proclaimed pop punk defenders are planning to carry on at the rate they’re going now, figuring life out might just get that little bit harder.