Even though Man Overboard ended the summer on a high note after their headlining Heart Attack tour alongside the support of Transit, Knuckle Puck and Forever Came Falling, it appeared that the band was off the radar for a little bit during the fall. Bassist and vocalist Nik Bruzzese had to get ACL surgery after an injury that forced the band to cancel their UK and European leg of the Heart Attack tour in September. After fighting off adversity while spending a lot of downtime back at home, these South Jersey homegrown heroes are now fully charged and ready to get back on the road once again for the upcoming year.

Recently, the band put out an acoustic EP entitled Passing Ends on their own D.I.Y. label, Lost Tape Collective. Providing fans with a little sneak peek of things to come, this EP revisits a song off their last full-length, Heart Attack, “Secret Pain,” and also features a full-band version of the title-track, “Passing Ends” (which was one of the first songs the band ever wrote together), along with a heartwarming song, “For Vince,” that pays tribute to Bruzzese’s father, Vincent, who passed away earlier in the year.

While Man Overboard were in the studio preparing new material for their upcoming release, I sat down with guitarists Justin Collier and Wayne Wildrick and talked about the independent release of Passing Ends, their upcoming run of exciting Tri-State holiday shows in Manhattan and Philadelphia, as well as what they look forward to the most about the new year ahead.

You’re now actually demoing new material for your next album. How’s the writing process been so far?

Justin Collier [guitarist]: Yeah, we are doing demos. Zac Eisenstein [vocalist and guitarist] is recording vocals right now.

Wayne Wildrick [guitarist]: …It’s kind of been like, I guess similar to the past, but also, we kind of have been coming in and writing a lot of music, writing a lot of riffs—recording as many ideas as possible. And right now, we’re just going through it to see what we like and what we can take and you know, build parts into songs. It’s the most time we’ve ever had being home in a long time, so we’ve been focusing on just playing and recording and letting the sound develop a little bit more for this time around.

What should fans expect out of this new record in comparison to your previous work?

JC: Umm… I feel like it’s kind of hard to say until the record is done because you never know what it’s going to sound like until it’s done.

WW: Yeah, literally until the record is done, you know? Even like, when you go into the studio, you think you know how it’s going to sound, it always comes out a whole other way. So I mean, you’re going to hear the stuff hopefully that you’d like to hear from the band and hopefully it hints for what’s going to happen in the future as well. You know, because we’re getting older and things are changing, so that’s definitely coming through in the music, and I think that’s just kind of a natural progression.

With that being said, is there a possibility that any of the songs highlighted on your EP, Passing Ends, will be featured on your next record?

WW: It’s funny because that song [“Passing Ends”] is almost like a prequel because that’s the first song this band has ever wrote or recorded. So it’s like, a lot of people have been asking that—they think that it’s this new song, but it’s actually like, a really old song. If you listen to any of our back catalog or hear anything that sounds like, any sort of… more “experimental” or “indie,” you know that’s why it all came from “Passing Ends”—because that song was always like, a reference song. That song was always there for that, which is definitely coming out in the new music as well because we had a lot of fun recording that song; it was something different. We’re writing in the same place we recorded that song, so now it’s just kind of the same vibe, and that’s definitely carrying over a little bit. So in that long-winded response, it’s definitely creeping through a lot in the new songs as well.

What was it like to revisit this song again for the occasion of putting out on this EP?

WW: I mean, it’s something that we’ve been talking about. Every record that we do, that song is always on the list of top songs to be on a record. It just kind of like, you know, didn’t really work in the context of any of the other material, and this was the chance to do it. The fact that we got to do it… we got test recordings at Nik Bruzzese’s [bassist and vocalist] studio and that all kind of ties into the whole thing because, you know… it was demoed here, it was written here and so much has happened here.

Out of curiosity, if you had the opportunity to go back and release this song on any one of your past records, which album do you think “Passing Ends” would have been a perfect fit for?

WW: I guess Heart Attack honestly; I guess that would probably be the one. Because it has that bigger sound and Will Yip [producer and engineer at Studio 4] actually mixed the song, so that song would definitely fit well in his studio because that would have worked well. But I mean, it came out now and it was great to go back to listen to the demo and talk about all of the things that were happening at the time because so much has changed. We were all playing different instruments in the band at that time. So it was cool to replay the song, and it was kind of grounding in a way.

Personally speaking as a supporter of Man Overboard since the very beginning, the overall feel of Passing Ends reminds me a lot of Noise From Upstairs. How does this release personally reflect where you are in your musical career right now?

JC: Man, I feel like when Noise From Upstairs came out, it was kind of like a thing where it was like, “All right, well, let’s put something out,” and we had these songs, so it was almost like a similar deal at the time. It was like, “Oh, we’re going to put something out in the fall. We have these acoustic songs that aren’t going to go on a record,” so I feel like that at least, you know, to a degree played a factor into that.

Now, you guys have two holiday shows coming up to finish out the year, one being the Glamour Kills Holiday Fest and also your annual Lost Tape Collective Holiday Show. What are some of things that you are looking forward to the most about these upcoming dates?

JC: This is our fifth or sixth year that we’ve done the Lost Tape shows and they’re always good. We did them at the First Unitarian Church; we’ve done them at Union Transfer and we’ve done them at the TLA [Theater Of Living Arts] a lot the last couple of years. It’s kind of an excuse to get a bunch of cool bands together and have a big show, you know? It’s always a good time and I think it’s something we always look forward to the whole year. We’ve never done that New York one or ever do a New York holiday show, so I think that will be cool in itself.

What are some of your favorite things about picking the lineup for these shows each year? How do you think this year’s show will be different compared to past years?

JC: I think the past years, there’s been a lot more bands that we’re personally friends with. Like, we usually have Fireworks play—I think they’ve played three of the years. We did one with The Wonder Years playing. We had Balance And Composure play before. I Am The Avalanche, we had Vinnie Caruana [I Am The Avalanche lead vocalist] play by himself. So this one, we honestly don’t know as many of the bands personally as we have in previous years, but I think it will still be cool. I know that kids are pretty excited on these bands, so I’m pretty sure the excitement about this show will be all the same.

Now that Nik made a nice, speedy recovery after his ACL surgery, how will it feel to get back to playing shows again? Since you had to cancel your UK and European fall tour because of Nik’s injury, did you and the rest of the band spend a lot of downtime at home?

JC: Yeah, he had to like, stay in bed or lay on the floor and put his leg in three different sheets for a couple of weeks and then he was on crutches for a while, and then he had a knee brace for a while. And now, he can walk around and doesn’t have a brace or anything, but he has to kind of take it easy, so I’m sure he’s not gonna go too wild at the holiday shows, but I feel like his recovery was really fast.

WW: He’s been growing a great beard too, so…

JC: Oh yeah…

WW: He’s really excited for everyone to check it out (laughs).

JC: September 11th he got his surgery, and he’s been growing a beard ever since, so he’s looking pretty manly. I promised him that at the Philly show, I’d give him a lot of lights to make him look super cool since he can’t be jumping around, so that’s my Christmas present for him.

Now that you’re picking up back where you left off—with the new record on its way and also getting back into playing shows—what do you think the new year will be like for Man Overboard moving forward?

JC: I think we’re going to do the new record early in the year. And then, we’re going to do a U.S. tour and the European tour. So pretty much, as the record is done, we’re going to be touring nonstop until the end of the year. It should be busy, but we’ve been off since the Heart Attack tour in June, so I think everybody is pretty eager to get back on the road and stay busy and play music.

WW: Yeah, I think we’re all excited that we’re going to be announcing things and, you know, to get back out there and be playing and record a new record and get ready to ready to play it for everyone. We’re all really excited about the new songs. We’ve been excited that we’ve been able to be home with each other and see our family and friends and all that and, you know, we’re ready to get back out, that’s for sure.

Man Overboard will be playing the Glamour Kills Holiday Fest at Webster Hall in Manhattan on Dec. 14 and at the Lost Tape Collective Holiday Show at the Theater Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on Dec. 20. Their latest EP, Passing Ends, is available now on Lost Tape Collective. For more information, go to manoverboardnj.com.

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