Mike Reilly has made a name for himself as a songwriter’s drummer touring, recording, and writing with Hoots & Hellmouth, Ha Ha Tonka, The Spring Standards, Matt Nakoa, Freddy and Francine, and many others. His new project Pretend Collective release their eponymous debut LP on September 13, 2019 in collaboration with The Giving Groove, a full-service independent record label based in Philadelphia, who will donate half of all album proceeds to benefit Nuçi’s Space, which provides mental health services to music industry members.
Pretend Collective play their Vinyl Release Show at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia on September 18. They also just confirmed their Brooklyn record release show at Elsewhere on September 24. To get people excited about the record, Mike is sharing his own behind-the-scenes look at the road to release.
I’ve been playing drums since I was eleven years old. I’m thirty-seven now. I play a lot—for fun, for livelihood, for human connection. There are a lot of ways to approach it, but I sound my best when I’m making the other players sound their best. That means I have to listen. When I want to listen deeply, I close my eyes.
I’ve been banging around on the piano since I was seven. I mostly do it alone. There was never much formal technique at play, but there was always a lot of play at play. There has always been curiosity, and on the other side of that, I found songs no one else had found.
Thirty years, dozens of bands, a ludicrous CV, and a trip or two around the world later, I find myself with a finished record. Don’t give me your arrangement or production ideas—it’s mastered. It’s done. No more space for creative input; thank you, we’ve done all that.
By we, I mean the members of Pretend Collective. It’s not quite a band, but don’t hold us to that. It’s rather a vast umbrella that keeps figuratively dry and creatively significant everyone who worked on the record—a long list of world class players, producers, engineers, assistants, visual artists, filmmakers, more than thirty singers . . . and without asking their permission, we have included a stylized, illustrated image of every single one of them within the interior artwork of the vinyl.
Question: Why would we do this?
Answer: For the same reason we continue to employ a first person plural pronoun.
From start to not-yet-finished, this process of making something you love before you even begin is thrilling and satisfying, ultimately requisite for emotional well-being, entails a shocking and endless amount of work, and is marked by a series of faux-finish lines; we’re constantly being asked how it’s coming, and any and all responses trigger what appears to be a consistently involuntary celebratory toast in our honor. It’s flattering, but the less exciting reality is that until we hold the album in our hands, there remains work to do.
There is a window that is opening, and we are frantically tossing singles and videos out of it, sending emails through it and launching pithy posts into social ether, and through the window that feels like it is already closing is the possibility of the world taking notice of the thing we made from our hearts, our best chance, our dreams—not dreams of playing the big stage or making a fortune; more like a nocturnal, disjointed, half-forgotten tenth-grade vision that hinted at a possible, fleeting bliss and included an evocative appearance by that one girl who sat in the seat in front of us and two over in homeroom.
We close our eyes to listen deeply. We reduce our sensory input in an effort to lock in with what we are hearing, to become part of it, to build more of it from our very selves. We give something up to have something else, and to share it with you. Listen to it here. And check back here for more of it real soon 🙂
–Mike Reilly for Pretend Collective
Stay tuned for more of Mike Reilly’s Rolling Out The Record…