Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse began to find their way last year as the trio discovered a knack for buzzing, tightly-wound pop-punk. "Please Visit Your National Parks" was the song of the year among pogo enthusiasts (we can't confirm that), but it was far from the only memorable track on Remember the Night Parties. The band plays Columbus Tuesday, January 30 at Little Brother's. I spoke with guitarist and singer Mike Pace about the band's slow climb to recognition, their place in the crowded Brooklyn music scene, and their album art, on which a man jumps into a pool to tackle Domino's Pizza's relic/icon the Noid.

Alive: Why the Noid?

Mike Pace: Basically what had happened was our drummer was, I guess he was one day at work, he was looking at this website Flickr, the photo website. He was looking for photos of those vintage Dorito's bags, like the old ones that used to have a clear window in it so you could actually see the chips. And he came across all of these photos by the guy. It turned out he was just this guy living in Sacramento, and he had posted like thousands of photos he had taken over the course of like 20 years growing up. And he worked at Domino's pizza for like 18 years as a delivery guy. So there were all these photos of him goofing off at Domino's, or at the beach, real kind of idyllic California youth just hanging out. And he found these just amazing photos of this guy in his backyard in the pool with this enormous inflatable Noid doll in it. So he saw it and we're like, "This is the album cover. How do we get the clearance-we just need this." And thankfully the photographer was more than willing to let us use his photos, and he sent us the originals. And then we had to get in touch with Domino's and ask them for permission to use it. And thankfully, since the Noid hasn't been used since like 1992, they were like, "Yeah, it's totally cool." Initially, the one stipulation was that we were going to have to change the name of the album to Domino's Pizza Presents: Oxford Collapse's Remember the Night Parties. But no, they were totally cool with it. We had to have our lawyer get in touch with them, but once he actually found the right person to talk to, they were really kind of cool about it.

Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse began to find their way last year as the trio discovered a knack for buzzing, tightly-wound pop-punk. "Please Visit Your National Parks" was the song of the year among pogo enthusiasts (we can't confirm that), but it was far from the only memorable track on Remember the Night Parties. The band plays Columbus Tuesday, January 30 at Little Brother's. I spoke with guitarist and singer Mike Pace about the band's slow climb to recognition, their place in the crowded Brooklyn music scene, and their album art, on which a man jumps into a pool to tackle Domino's Pizza's relic/icon the Noid.

Alive: Why the Noid?

Mike Pace: Basically what had happened was our drummer was, I guess he was one day at work, he was looking at this website Flickr, the photo website. He was looking for photos of those vintage Dorito's bags, like the old ones that used to have a clear window in it so you could actually see the chips. And he came across all of these photos by the guy. It turned out he was just this guy living in Sacramento, and he had posted like thousands of photos he had taken over the course of like 20 years growing up. And he worked at Domino's pizza for like 18 years as a delivery guy. So there were all these photos of him goofing off at Domino's, or at the beach, real kind of idyllic California youth just hanging out. And he found these just amazing photos of this guy in his backyard in the pool with this enormous inflatable Noid doll in it. So he saw it and we're like, "This is the album cover. How do we get the clearance—we just need this." And thankfully the photographer was more than willing to let us use his photos, and he sent us the originals. And then we had to get in touch with Domino's and ask them for permission to use it. And thankfully, since the Noid hasn't been used since like 1992, they were like, "Yeah, it's totally cool." Initially, the one stipulation was that we were going to have to change the name of the album to Domino's Pizza Presents: Oxford Collapse's Remember the Night Parties. But no, they were totally cool with it. We had to have our lawyer get in touch with them, but once he actually found the right person to talk to, they were really kind of cool about it.

Do you think the Sub Pop association helped you have an easier time with the legal side of thing?

I think more the fact that the Noid is void (no pun intended), since this character is no longer used. 'Cause to Domino's Pizza, this huge... they're like "Who's Sub Pop?" I don't know how our lawyer smooth-talked them into doing whatever they did, but I have the feeling that just because they own the rights to the character and it hasn't been used in like 15 years now, they weren't worried about anything.

Speaking of Sub Pop, how did you end up on the label?

After we did our second record, which came out in 2005, we had kind of finished up our contract with our first label, which is Kanine Records, which is just a small New York label. We were kind of looking around. We were hoping that we were going to start shopping, so to speak. Thankfully, they got in touch with us, kind of out of the blue, which was something that we wouldn't even really, in our wildest dreams, if we made a list of labels to send stuff to, I'm sure Sub Pop would be on it, but we wouldn't think they would take us. But thankfully we had a friend who had done some video promotion for our last record and had gotten them a copy of that. They got in touch with us, and we kind of struck up a dialogue, and they were asking us "What are you guys working on? What's the deal with your old label? We're looking for someone new." And when Sub Pop comes around, it's kind of hard to be all cavalier and be like "(snooty voice) Well, we're entertaining a number of offers." Sub Pop comes knocking, and we were pretty much: "Yes." There weren't very many questions that we had. It was a great opportunity for us. We were definitely going to take it.

You played their showcase at CMJ along with a lot of other packed shows. It seems like you're starting to get more attention now.

Yeah, you know, slowly but surely things are catching on. We've been out playing shows for around five years, so it's nice that it's finally starting to pay off. But we're definitely still paying dues. We did a tour in October, and while most of the shows were really good, and we had a good time, it's not going to prevent us from playing to like four people in Arizona, or like 12 people in Montana. We're definitely not "there" yet, wherever "there" is. But in New York, it's nice that we do fairly well.

Speaking of the chance of having to play in front of four people, I was wondering what your show was like last time you were in town. You played at the High Five, right?

Oh yeah, that was for about five people too. (laughter) The first time we were in Columbus, the only time we've been in Columbus, was with this band the Joggers... But this go-round, we're touring with this band Thunderbirds are Now!, who have a higher profile than both us and the Joggers, so I'm hoping that we can get more asses in the seats this time around. (laughter) That Columbus show was notable if only because it was the first of like four or five shows we were doing with the Joggers, and we drove from New York. That was the first show. I remember we got caught in traffic—it was during the week, it took us like nine and a half hours to get there—and that was one of the few times where we've literally had to pull into a place, and get on stage and immediately start playing—really not an ideal situation for anyone in a band. But since there was no one there, no one could really criticize the performance too much.

Joggers seem like kind of a kindred spirit with your band. Something like "Please Visit Your National Parks," with its guitar parts, seems along the same lines as what they do.

The Joggers are a band that I personally was a fan of before I had met those guys, for a while before my band was kind of doing anything. It was something where I got in touch with them as a fan, like "I really like your band, blah blah blah, here, this is my band." It actually turned out over time that we knew some people in common. But I would definitely like to think we're kindred spirits. Those guys are like the sickest musicians that we've ever seen. Thankfully we've always opened for them because I don't think I'd be able to play after them because they're so good. I definitely think that their musicianship, the way that they write songs, the unorthodox approach to guitar-oriented pop music, is definitely something that has an influence on me. And they're also great guys.

On your latest record, Remember the Night Parties, a lot of my favorite songs were in the second half, and I've read some other reviews, like the Pitchfork one, for example, that agree with that. How do you take that? Do you agree with that at all?

It's interesting because we actually spent a lot of time coming up with the tracklisting, and we approached it that we were going to look at it as an album with a beginning, middle and ending, and ultimately as a piece of vinyl with a side A and a side B. We had a number of different tracklistings, and sometimes some songs that wound up on the second side were on the first side. I think that maybe having an eight-minute-long song right in the middle of the album throws people off sometimes. On the vinyl version of it, that song, "Return of Burno," it ends the first side and it kind of fades out, and then it fades back in at the beginning of the second side, just for a little continuity. That's also kind of a personal preference for everyone. When the album was done... seems like whenever we finish a record, I can listen to it for a little while and almost study it. Once it comes out, I can't listen to it very much anymore because other people can listen to it and hear all the mistakes that I feel are in there. But I can see objectively how some people might feel that the songs on the second side are a little more immediate in a way. But it was just kind of a personal preference. I hope that if someone were to listen to it all the way through, hopefully they could kind of see this weird arc of a beginning, middle and ending. But ultimately it doesn't make that big of a deal to me.

A lot of the songs on the first half are more stretched out, where the second half has more tight, catchy pop-punk songs. Do you expect more of one or the other on the next record?

Actually, yeah. We get really restless if we're not working on new material at a certain point. We've been writing some new things and playing with some new ideas, and the direction I feel that we're heading into is of writing more immediate songs. And you go through stages when you're writing stuff, and sometimes you want to write really long, intricate songs, difficult stuff, and then after that you want to write things that are more immediate. I'm just speaking from my band's point of view. Remember the Night Parties is easily the most accessible and catchiest record that we've done, but I think that the next one, which is planning on being our double-album, totally over-the-top disaster, is going to be hopefully full of like 19 two-and-a-half-minute songs. Just be bludgeoned with pop goodness, so to speak. But a lot of that also comes from learning how to write songs, and how to edit yourself. There are times for eight-minute-long songs, and times for four-minute-long songs, and then there are times for two-minute songs. And that's one of the things that we're interested in. A lot of times when we're starting to write a song, we're like "I think this song should be two minutes and 18 seconds long," which I don't think is a way that a lot of people approach things, and obviously it doesn't always end up like that. But we definitely write with these weird limitations in place: Let's make it really poppy, let's make it interesting, but let's also not make it too long. But yes, the next songs will be even more accessible and poppy. But you won't hear them on the radio.

Hey, you never know.

You never know.

You've got quite a few of those on Sub Pop at this point.

We're definitely in good company. We're really happy.

The first time I remember reading about your band is from music blogs. How do you feel about the whole online hype machine?

It's definitely worked in our favor a lot, and other times, you know... I think the thing about criticism in general, what I've found is if it's your art, whatever it is, you can tell when someone, when they're criticizing you, you know when someone knows what they're talking about or that they're just full of s---. The downside of the "blogosphere" blowing up is that basically anyone with an opinion can get it out there. And I'm not just trying to say this like "People shouldn't write shit about us that's negative," but for as much praise and nice things that are said, just anyone with an opinion can write something, and it's not necessarily accurate. Even if it's someone's opinion, it could be factually incorrect. But in terms of getting the word out there, and spreading the name, the old adage that any press is good press, I guess I can't be incredibly critical of it. But I don't necessarily equate it with serious journalistic endeavors. Music journalism in general, no offense, (laughter) I don't know if I equate with serious journalistic endeavors.

Well, I can definitely draw a line between Woodward & Bernstein and myself, so I don't take too much offense from that.

(Laughter)

It seemed like five or six years ago, everybody was obsessed with a certain Brooklyn scene. You seem like a later wave of Brooklyn band, a completely different style. Do you feel a part of a community? Do you feel connected at all to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs/TV on the Radio stuff?

Not particularly. Brooklyn is a big place, and obviously it's the kind of thing where we've been around for a long time and we know a lot of people in a lot of different bands. But over the years we've been able to find a closer knit community of like-minded bands, and a lot of them aren't in New York. We like to tour with friends, and most of the time these bands are across the country somewhere. Having said that, there's no shortage of decent bands in New York, just like there's no shortage of awful bands in New York. There's always a lot of competition and whatnot. For us, it's more like, this is where we live, and we play here often, and it's nice to play with friends, and we do have a lot of friends doing really interesting things. But we never subscribe to that whole pigeonholing. There's also something to be said—our first record, which was recorded in 2003, is a lot dancier, it's a lot more abrasive and what have you—there's something to be said for taking in your surroundings, as opposed to trying to come up with the most original music possible, which was never necessarily our intention. I don't want to say "f--- Brooklyn" or whatever, but it's something that I don't think we ever make a big deal about or try to align ourselves with anything per se.

So it's more like you just happen to be from Brooklyn.

Pretty much. The drummer and I went to school in New York. No one moved to Brooklyn to play music or anything. We've been doing it for a while, and it's nice to be in a place where people are focusing their attention, but at the same time that does lead to oversaturation and the inevitable backlash, which we're bracing for. (laughter) But it's not something that I think we really concern ourselves too much with because hopefully, we like to think that we don't sound like a lot of other bands in the neighborhood.