I met Collin in California on November 22, 2003 at the Showcase Theater. He was playing in Shawn Jonas of Zao’s new band Symphony In Peril. We became fast friends, and I have followed Collin’s musical and design career ever since. When he posted the Band Camp link to his new solo project Maranatha, I was stoked to say the least. After hearing what Steven Cosand of Overcome did with Sanhedrin by himself. I knew Collin’s project had to be just as good, and was I right. There have been talks about Maranatha debut release Incarnate. Both positive, and negative from the Spirit-Filled as well as the secular communities. I know first hand Collin sees light, and the darkness is behind him.
For those who don’t know who you are—and your history in the Spirit-filled scene—will you please tell us a short story of your life?
Well, my name is Collin Simula. I live in Columbus, Ohio, with my beautiful wife Ciara. We have two sons, Rowan and Miles, and at the time of writing this, we are exactly one week away from the birth of our daughter, Beatrice.
A few years ago I was approached by Shawn Jonas to play in his post-Zao project Symphony In Peril. The original idea was that it was going to be a Spirit-filled hardcore revival of sorts, and although I don’t ever think it quite got there, I know some people’s hearts were changed through our music and that’s definitely good enough for me.
We signed to Facedown Records in 2003. I played bass on the first record, and drums on the second. We never were a full-time touring band, but we played as much as we could. We broke up in late-2005.
After Symphony in Peril broke up what did you do musically?
Well, at the time of SIP’s breakup, I was completely over the Christian music scene. In fact, I was pretty over Christianity in general. The hypocrisy I was seeing around me, and the hypocrisy in my own heart even more, the whole thing just reeked of BS to me. And to an extent, it still does.
In a reaction to this, I wanted to be a part of the farthest thing I could think of from Christian metalcore. I joined a local hard band called In The Cut (whom at the time was fronted by Todd, SIP’s merch guy). In The Cut was metallic thugcore. We self-released a couple demo EPs and a full-length, and then changed our name to Kingsblood. Kingsblood has continued to evolve, and now have a more Viking death metal sound, with a blackened edge. The guys in that band have become dear, dar friends of mine. I think it’s their best stuff honestly. Go check them out now.
How long have you been working on Maranatha? You know—just as a band, what you wanted it to sound like, coming up with a name—the beginning part of starting a band from the ground up.
I started working on Maranatha in June of 2011. I had been itching to write some music in that style for quite some time—that dark, crusty hardcore with a old-school death metal edge, and then mixed with a good dose of Crowbar sludge. I never started writing with the intent of it really being anything, because I hadn’t written any riffs in quite a while.
My wife was very encouraging to me to really go for it. She kept telling me that the stuff was sounding really good and that there was something to it. So I kept writing. So in answer to the question of starting a band from the ground up, that was never even the intent.
All of the music was and continues to be recorded at home with overly-DIY means. Look, I don’t have a bunch of cash to throw down on a studio. And honestly, being able to do this whenever I get spare time is kind of nice. (But takes ten times as long.)
Where did the name Maranatha come from?
Interestingly enough, Maranatha as a name and concept existed long before I wrote any music. I was working on a piece of art actually. The piece was an inverted cross with the word “maranatha” under it. I never finished it because it just evolved into this project. The word is Aramaic, and it meant a lot to the early Christians. It means “Come, oh Lord!” As in, come quickly, with urgency. It was used as a prayer for the immediate return of Christ—because we suck at doing this ourselves.
I started writing some lyrics around this concept, and again, never really planned on doing anything with them. I had most of the lyrics done for Incarnate EP at least a year before I even thought about writing music.
There has been a lot of talk about the cover art because of the upside-down cross. What was the reasoning behind it?
Well, if I’ve learned anything since releasing Incarnate, it’s that you don’t mess with the cross. Good God.
The inverted cross has also had a place since the early years of the church. Legend has it that Peter requested to be crucified upside-down because he felt unworthy to be crucified like Christ. So the Petrine Cross, as it’s called, is a symbol of humility. All of Maranatha’s lyrics are calling the Church to a posture of humility (including myself), and it just made sense to really drive that point home.
Secondarily, when you flip an American flag upside-down, it’s not disrespectful, but a symbol of distress. I thought stealing that idea and using a cross instead logically accompanied the meaning of the word “maranatha.”
And in the end, have we not as a community of people turned a Roman execution device into nothing but a logo? We have to remember that Jesus is the one we worship, not two intersecting lines. So in a way, it’s a subtle middle-finger to the Christian marketing machine.
With this project being a one-man band, how bad to you want to form a band and play these songs live?
First things first: can we retire the phrase “one-man band?” I just picture that dude with a kick drum and bells and an accordion and little cymbals.
How bad do I want to form a band? This might be a bummer to some, but not as bad as you’d think. Again, there’s something nice about doing this in my spare time. I’ve already been offered a couple shows, and at this point neither of them can happen because of the business of my life. I do basically have an entire band lined up to play with me though. We just need to get together so they can learn the songs. And I do really want to play these songs live, don’t get me wrong.
I don’t ever anticipate this being an actual band-band. There is something empowering (and admittedly selfish) about writing and recording everything myself. So at some point I’ll have a live band, but unless something drastic changes, Maranatha as a project will always just be me.
Will you play any fests this year or next?
Most likely not. For one, you kind of have to have a label to get on fests. I don’t even have physical copies of my EP for crying out loud! (Any labels out there looking for a non-touring studio project?) For two, the logistics of that happening at this point are just not there. Again, sorry if this bums anyone out.
Would you want to play more shows with Christian bands or secular bands? Explain.
I know this is a classic Christian band member comment, but I really hate the distinction. I pretty much loathe the “Christian” label, because not only does it set up ridiculous man-made standards, but often “Christian” music is just a (very) lame ripoff of a much better “secular” band. As soon as you label yourself a Christian band, there is a whole group of people who generally stop taking you seriously, the non-believers. So then you just become a “safe” band for Christians to listen to, preaching to the choir. And theres a whole community of non-believers who are missing out on a possibly good message.
The difference with Maranatha, is that I am exploring the stuff we (including me) are doing wrong, and really wanting to understand the kids who are either out the door already or on their way. Really trying to live out Matthew 18:12. So, in that, I am not really concerned with living up to “Christian band” standards. I’m not going to censor myself, I’m not going to make Christian kids feel happy or safe necessarily. I am telling it like it is to me, led by the Spirit as much as I can.
So after all that pretentious banter—I’d play with whoever would have me, but I personally think I fit in better with the “secular” bands.
Who would you want to play with?
First things first, I’d love to play with all the Columbus hardcore bands, like Empire of Rats, Nemesis, and Carved Out. We have a scene here full of a bunch of really good people.
But beyond that I’d love to play with Trap Them. I wish the Famine hadn’t broken up because I’d love to play with them. And their singer Nick and I really see eye to eye on a lot of things. I’d also love to play with Harm’s Way, Weekend Nachos, and CROWBAR.
And what instrument would you play?
I’d be fronting it for sure.
What’s next for Maranatha?
I’m not really sure. I’m just kind of riding this thing out and seeing what happens with it. Currently, I’m hard at work on two more songs for a possible split 7″ with Sanhedrin (and if you haven’t heard them, do yourself a favor). And like I said, I only have so much time, I’m a busy dude. So progress is slow in general on everything.
Any last words?
Thanks, Rob, for the great interview. And thanks for everyone out there who bought, downloaded, liked, shared links, posted Mediafire links, etc. The fact that a working family man such as myself with some spare time can actually get this music as far as it’s already gone is astounding and exciting and really restores my faith in this whole thing.
That being said, go to maranathaisheavy.bandcamp.com and keep listening and downloading.
And if you’re reading this: you are loved and worth much, much more than you know.