On the Record with Mike Colleran

One could describe Songs I Wrote, the recent solo EP from Taking Back Sunday guitarist and Straylight Run frontman John Nolan, by using any number of adjectives. It's short (only four songs), homegrown, and even Dylan-esque, but now, over a year after it was digitally released via Nolan's Bandcamp.com page, Songs I Wrote is also tangible for the first time. Five hundred limited-edition vinyl pressings of the EP are currently available through Collective Confusion Records, an independent label founded by Fairfield native Mike Colleran last fall.

"For the most part [Nolan] is just a fan of independent music as much as anyone else," explains Colleran, 22, who contacted Nolan about the project via e-mail. "He said, 'Why not?' basically. It wasn't a huge leap for him to make. He didn't have to put any money into it or anything like that; he just had to give me the rights to it."

A recent graduate of Fordham University's business program, Colleran numbered each of the 500 records by hand and shipped them from his parents home in Fairfield. For the time being Collective Confusion is very much a one-man enterprise, and while many college students boast about their love of vinyl (especially since its nostalgic quality has recently come back into vogue) and dream of starting an indie label, it turns out it's actually a lot of work.

"It was always something I toyed around with, but I started doing some research and figuring out exactly how much money went into doing it," says Colleran. "Just everything from corporation costs — because you have to do everything legally — to getting a sales tax ID number, all that crap. It was maybe two years ago that I first started really looking into it, and then in November I actually made the move on it."

When Collective Confusion's first venture — an LP with Boston's Hailey, it Happens — failed to recoup expenses, Colleran sought out a different manufacturer for the pressings and new, creative ways to spark sales for Songs I Wrote. Each EP is colored from a random mix so no two are identical, two bonus tracks are included, and the first 100 buyers were given a complimentary piece of tour memorabilia signed by Nolan.

"I've always just wanted to tangibly hold something, you know?" says Colleran. "You get the big art; you get the actual record; the sound's different, but really it's just something to enjoy collecting."

Colleran is in talks with a number of smaller bands (one of which is coincidentally named the Vinyls) and hopes to put out another project when he can come up with the money. "I'm more looking for the younger acts," he says, "but this was kind of just a dream that I wanted to be able to put out."

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