Arts & Entertainment
4 min

Simon Collins’ grand entrance

On his music, his famous dad and coming out

Credit: Wayne A Höecherl Photo

Time for Truth is a telling title for Simon Collins’ sophomore CD. Collins’ truth means many things, from fixing the ugly state of the Earth to his newfound freedom as a musician, and now, his sexual identity.

“This is my truth and this is how I see the world,” says Collins, who recently returned to Vancouver from Toronto where he was promoting his CD.

Collins, who is bisexual, hinted at his sexual identity on his single, “Pride,” on his debut album All of Who You Are, released five years ago. His famous dad, Phil Collins, even supplied his vocals on the back-up tracks for Pride.

“I couldn’t reach those high notes,” Collins laughs.

The song, originally inspired by the film Braveheart and the concept of a man losing everything to be left only with his pride, grew to mean something more personal. “I was using that inspiration to write a song about not being afraid to step outside of the box or the closet and be the fuck who you want to be and don’t ever apologize for it,” says Collins.

“I’ve always been pretty open about my sexuality. I have a girlfriend right now. Before that, I had a boyfriend,” he adds.

When he came out to his mom, Andrea, last summer over a glass of wine, it was a “really comfortable situation,” he continues. Having grown up with his mom and sister Joely in Vancouver after their parents’ divorce, Collins’ relationship with his mom is tight.

Though he and his dad, who lives in Switzerland with his wife and Collins’ two younger brothers, are close, physical distance is an issue. “I haven’t come out to my dad. Now that it’s in the press I’ll have to,” says Collins.

But he isn’t worried about his father’s reaction. Indeed, his dad may already have it figured out. “He’s always making innuendos… because I didn’t have a girlfriend for a long time,” says Collins.

“I could call him right now and tell him. But we don’t talk as often as we should, so when we do talk, there’s so much to talk about. We rarely get to have a heart to heart and that’s when you want to fucking say something like that,” he concludes.

On Time for Truth, Collins delves deeper into relationships with “Reason.”

“Feelings, you fear your feelings/you can’t keep running away/from the things you can change.” It’s a song about a “special man in my life,” he says.

Collins says his new album “represents the true sound of Simon Collins.

“My first record was mainly synthetically produced, so I didn’t have a chance to really explore my musicianship on that record,” he explains. In Time for Truth, Collins supplies drums, guitar and keyboards to back up his vocals.

It’s hard to listen to Collins without hearing the haunting resemblance to his father, and Collins embraces the similarities. Both Collins, now 28, and his dad learned to play drums at age five-even Collins’ younger brother Nicholas, now five, is learning to play drums. Collins brags, “he’s better than I was at that age.”

“I’m very proud of who he is and what he’s accomplished,” Collins says of his dad. “It’s a huge part of why I’m here. He was such a massive influence for me. Even though my parents divorced [when I was] at an early age, I saw him a hell of a lot and grew up with him on tour with Genesis, on his solo tours and learned a lot.”

“I embrace it. It’s part of who I am,” says Collins.

In addition to contemporary bands Coldplay and Massive Attack, Collins readily lists progressive rock band Genesis-which the elder Collins joined as drummer then became lead singer when Peter Gabriel left the group-as a musical influence. He admits he’s a huge fan of Peter Gabriel and has already talked to his dad about covering Genesis’ “Keep it Dark.”

Meanwhile it was Collins’ mom, a fervent environmentalist now living on Salt Spring Island, who instilled a sense of social responsibility and activism in him. A few years ago, Collins’ mom called him in Germany, where he was living and recording at the time, to tell him a section of land on Salt Spring, located on a watershed, was going to be sold, developed and clear-cut. Collins promptly bought 350 acres.

“Part of the deal was they had to replant everything that they had already chopped down while we were negotiating. It’s actually looking quite good now. It looks like it was selectively logged instead of clear-cut… Eventually I’m going to build a house on a little portion of it.”

“Time for Truth,” says Collins, “definitely reflects the state of the world at this point for me ecologically, politically, and spiritually as well.”

On one section of Collins’ website, news headlines related to the environment, health and the overall state of the planet scroll across the top of the page and link to corresponding stories.

It’s fitting, then, that Collins opened a recent show at the Buffalo Club with “One Nation.”

“Please wake this world now from its sleep/create a new philosophy,” about the state of the planet, he sings.

In “Time for Truth” Collins sings, “Where have you been/while this world is dying/right in front of your eyes/she screams loudly then cries/can you help me?”

Collins says a fascination with space ties into his view of the world. “All these astronauts and cosmonauts, the first time they go to space, no matter where they’re from, the first day they’re up there they go: ‘Oh look, there’s my country.’ The second day they go: ‘There’s my continent my country’s in.’ Third day they’re: ‘There it is, there’s our fucking planet. No visible boundaries whatsoever.’

“All these scientists and cosmonauts go up and come back humanitarians because they see it. And I don’t think you have to see it to believe it.”

Though Collins says some critics have accused him of being preachy, he disagrees. “I’m just trying to inspire people to take another look from a different perspective and I’m offering some solutions. These are my answers, my truth.”