When Nick Babey helped form Collect Call back during his time at Elgin Park Secondary, the initial intent on the band was not particularly exciting.
“The original purpose of the band… was that we were supposed to just make a Christmas album,” said Babey, a second-year Arts student. “It was more of a side thing…. We just played some covers at my house, just jamming.” Five years later, after incredulous amounts of writing, busking, playing in numerous venues and releasing one album, it may be safe to say the band has found its feet.
Co-founded with Babey’s high school friend and Engineering student Tom Lee, along with Lazar Todorovic who studies at UVic, the band -- performing Tuesday night at Koerner's Pub -- has grown to become another promising addition to UBC and Vancouver’s indie rock scene. Similar bands like the Arkells and Hey Rosetta have provided a major influence on their sound, according to both Lee and Babey. It also helps whenever influences start to take notice of them.
“Dave Verseti (from the band Hey Ocean) will be at our show on Tuesday,” said Babey. “He was like ‘send me your stuff,’ I was like ‘whaaa--?!’ so that was really cool.”
Sound in particular is always a huge priority in regards to song creation for the band, according to co-founder Tom Lee, who contributes a good chunk of the writing. “I feel like song writing is just spontaneous,” said Lee.
“Sometimes what I actually do is that every time I have an idea -- even if it’s just a little snippet -- I’d record on my phone first so I can remember it.... It’s usually the melody and music that comes first … and if I’m just walking to class or on the bus, I’d just put on my headphones and scroll through all the stuff.”
According to Lee, both he and Babey would continuously experiment with these melodies using whatever acoustics they had at their disposal, and eventually add lyrics later on. The downside to this method is that it creates quite the backlog for them.
“Some songs happen in a day and other songs I’ve been writing for years and still not finished,” said Lee.
Backlogs are just part of the plenty of speed bumps the band encounters as they try to balance their act with school and work. In fact, evening hours after their full-time work are frequently the only times they can practice, according to Babey.
“A lot of people, especially at our age and you had a band from high school, they give up on music at this point in life and I feel like for us it will always be something that we keep up,” said Babey. “If you take the time to schedule and practice then you can really work around it.”
Having just released their first album this past summer, the band is currently focused more on sharing their work than creating for now. However, Babey said there will be some new material ready for their Tuesday performance. “Oh man, I’m stoked for [this] one song that in the middle of it breaks down into a pop song cover. I’m not gonna say which song, it’s a surprise,” said Babey.
More importantly, both band's founders simply hope to just keep having fun with their followers. “What we always look for is that we obviously have a lot of fun playing and we want the audience to feel the same way,” said Lee.
Babey immediately shared the sentiment. “For me the reason I love playing live music … is not always about the band really, it’s really about the atmosphere -- everyone’s there to experience the same thing and I feel like that’s what we always want to deliver.”
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article Lazar Todorovic's name was listed as Lazar Todovic. The Ubyssey regrets the error.