Farewell For Now: An Interview with Man Overboard

Earlier in the year, Garden State pop punk heroes Man Overboard announced they would be going on a brief hiatus after completing a small run of U.S. shows that they have lined up in the month of April. With opening support from rising acts like Gin War, Microwave, Watermedown, Souvenirs, Forever Came Calling and Such A Mess, Man Overboard will be giving their fans a chance to catch them out on the road for one final hurrah… for the time being.

While there hasn’t been too much activity from Man Overboard since appearing on the Vans Warped Tour this past summer, it was still bittersweet for me to personally hear this news. Considering that I’ve been listening to them since the beginning, it’s pretty surreal to think about how much Man Overboard played such an influential role on how the pop punk scene has developed throughout the last couple of years.

I’ll never forget when a few of my friends booked one of Man Overbroad’s earliest shows at the start of my junior year of high school, when their debut EP, Hung Up On Nothing, was a new, breath of fresh air. This was also around the same time when Balance And Composure, The Wonder Years and Title Fight were all younger acts that vacated DIY venues, VFW Halls and basements, before they took over the world. Once Man Overboard became a household name in pop punk, it wasn’t long before their colleagues started to experience similar success and praise later in their careers as well.

After all of these years, Man Overbroad’s music still holds a lot of nostalgic merit, and remains as refreshing to me as it was when I was first became hooked on them when I was finishing up high school. Farewell for now, Man Overboard. Thank you for the memories; we’ll see you soon.

About a month before Man Overboard was set to make their curtain call, I had the pleasure of catching up with guitarist Justin Collier to talk about the band’s final run of shows. Reflecting back on some surreal experiences that genuinely defined his time with the band, Collier also shed some light on what the rest of the band has been up to as of late.

So, it’s already out there that Man Overbroad’s next eight shows lined up will be your last “for now.” If there is one thing that you would like your fans and your supporters to remember Man Overboard for, what would it be, and why?

            You know, I think we’ve always been a band that works hard and tries to do many things ourselves as possible. We’ve had outside help for sure, but a lot of the things that we did, we did on our own. So, I think to other bands, and people that are aspiring something, it’s kind of like a “do it yourself and see how far you can get with it” type of thing. That might be a good legacy that I kind of would like to instill in people.

Now, I’ve been a longtime fan and supporter of the band since the very beginning. At the time when Man Overboard started to grow, did you think both you and peers helped pop punk become more of a widely recognized genre in any way?

            When we first started, we had a band before Man Overboard called Front Page. When that band was playing, the only bands that were out that were similar that weren’t really big were Set Your Goals, and maybe Four Year Strong. But when we started Man Overboard, there were a lot of really small bands at that time like The Wonder Years, Balance And Composure, Transit, and bands like that. So, that was when our scene started developing. That’s when Run For Cover Records started. No Sleep Records and Pure Noise Records, and all of those labels started growing at the same time as all of these bands, and I think everyone grew together, which was cool.

Now, obviously there’s loads of new bands and new record labels and a lot of established labels like Hopeless and Fearless and Epitaph are now signing pop punk bands. It’s definitely proliferated quite a bit since the early days.

Totally! I remember when I was a junior in high school when I first heard about Man Overboard. It was really cool to see how far you’ve come, and to also see a lot of bands that you were close with over the years gain national attention so quickly as well.

            Yeah, it’s cool to see that there wasn’t just one band or two bands. It was kind of like all of those bands that were around back then for the most part—Title Fight, Balance, Tigers Jaw, Wonder Years, Transit… you know, all of the bands that we’ve played with all went on to play for a while and do different things and go all over the world and stuff. It’s pretty cool.

For sure. I know for a while, you’ve had a lot of downtime after playing the Vans Warped Tour. After gaining some perspective while you and everyone else were doing your own thing, would you say that it was a natural agreement to end things on a high note?

            Yeah. I mean, everybody’s growing up and getting older. I’m the youngest guy in the band, and I am 27. I’m married, [bassist and vocalist] Nik Bruzzese is married, and all the other guys have serious girlfriends that they live with. [Guitarist] Wayne Wildrick lives in New York now, and is a barber. Nik just opened up a recording studio with Ace Enders from The Early November. So, it’s kind of like everybody really has a lot of other things going on, and as you get older, you sort out your priorities.
The band definitely was always and is a big priority for everybody, but you know, it’s not going to last forever, and you don’t want to wake up at 35 in a band that’s been around for too long that nobody cares about anymore—you’re just starting your regular life, you know?

I think everyone looked at it as, “Hey, we’ve done a lot of really cool and exciting things that we’re all really proud of. We’ve gone all over the world and we’ve done more than we could have ever dreamt of doing. So let’s just sit tight for a little bit—do some other things, set some other goals for ourselves, and try to accomplish those, and then we can always come back to do the band whenever we want.”

And that was kind of the point of the “Farewell For Now” thing. We’re 100 percent going to play shows again and make music again and whatever, so I didn’t want to make it like, “Oh, we’re breaking up, and then in two years, we’re going to get back together again.” We’re just going to be like, “Hey! We’re going to stop playing shows for a while, and being an active band, but we will be back; we’re not exactly sure when. But if you want to come see us, or you haven’t seen us in a while, or you want to see us one more time for the time being, here’s your chance.”

I think it’s fair, especially because we haven’t been touring a ton other than Warped Tour in the last year. So, I think giving people an ample shot to come out to a show is kind of cool, and fair.

Reflecting back some on your past accomplishes and milestones, what are some of your fondest memories that you’ve had from playing with Man Overboard?

Yeah, because going on tour, and doing certain things, there’s definitely a little bit of a routine, you know? And then sometimes, something really stands out, and then, you’re kind of like, “Woah! This is crazy.”

We played in Indonesia this past fall, or this past summer, with The Story So Far. The set-up of the show was running late, so they were still soundchecking when doors opened. Basically, everything got pushed back, and had to get pushed back further because our set would have run into Muslim Prayer Time in Indonesia, so the show had to get moved back an hour.

That’s something that you look at and it makes you stop and you’re like, “Holy crap! We’re in Indonesia playing a show.” That’s such a foreign thing that definitely makes you excited, and makes you go, “Wow, this is crazy that we’re here.”

Things like that, and playing Warped Tour, and getting to work with [producer] Bill Stevenson of Descendents and Black Flag on the last record [Heavy Love]. Some stuff like that kind of puts all of the things that we’ve done into perspective, and it makes everybody extra thankful, and it kind of reminds you of certain things.

Definitely! It’s been quite a while since Man Overboard has played. While the Farewell Tour is going to be bittersweet, what are you looking forward to the most about these dates?

            We definitely have some songs that we always play every time, like “Montrose” and “Love Your Friends, Die Laughing” and stuff. But, we put up a song voting poll on our website, so people can go and vote for what songs they want to hear. There’s already 2,000 submissions, so it’s pretty cool. I think we might play some deep cuts that we wouldn’t normally play to tailor the people that voted, so I’m definitely excited for that.

I’m excited just to hang out with everybody because the last time I saw everyone was in October when we played a show on Warped Tour in London. So, I haven’t seen everyone in six months or whatever.

With the cities that you’ve selected to play on the Farewell Tour, how would you say that these specific areas help define Man Overbroad’s career over the years?

            Yeah, all of the California dates are all of the big, West Coast cities, so that makes sense when you’re going up there to play them. For the East Coast, like Boston and Massachusetts in general were the one of the first places along with Michigan that Man Overboard did well in that wasn’t New Jersey, you know? Massachusetts was always cool for us, and same for New York.

Back in the day, we used to play at this place—I don’t even remember what it was called—but it was a little hole-in-the-wall venue in Bushwick in Brooklyn. We used to play there, and then the first that time that we played the Music Hall Of Williamsburg and Webster Hall were all really great shows. So, New York was pretty logical, and also Wayne works at Webster Hall.

Philly, of course, the Theatre Of Living Arts show sold out, so we are doing a show at the First Unitarian Church; it is the “Punk Mecca” that we grew up going to. We’ve decided to add another show, and that was the spot to go, you know? Plus, it was also available on a Wednesday night, so that worked out.

Very cool! Either way, it will be a great time to catch up with everyone. While no definite plans have been established yet, do you think Man Overboard will be revisited once again at some point in the future?

            Yeah, for sure. Everybody has their own things going on, but we’ll definitely come back to it. Maybe not as touring nine or 10 months out of the year like we have done for the last couple of years, but I definitely think we will do another record or some EPs at some point and do some touring. But for now, we’re letting it just breathe a little bit and kind of do our own thing. So, that way, we can get that part of our lives going, and then later start putting Man Overboard in where it makes sense.


This spring, be sure to catch Man Overboard one last time on their final run of shows for the time being. The band will be playing at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia on April 13, The Marlin Room At Webster Hall in Manhattan on April 15, and at the Theatre Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on April 17. For more information, go to manoverboardnj.com.