Cole Collins is a multi-instrumentalist treasure hidden in the throngs of the Charleston music community. He currently has working knowledge drums, guitar, the bass, the glockenspiel, violin, piano, and synthesizers, all of which he utilizes during every show he plays.
Collins is known to play both as a one man act, with just his instruments set up around him, or with a full band behind him. When he plays solo, Collins likens himself to the Wizard of Oz. “It wasn’t intentional, but as I’ve gotten better at [the solo aspect], there’s more and more gear around me. So I’m behind all of it and you can barely see me and I’m just doing stuff behind my curtain,” Collins said. “It’s just a wall of gear, and then music.”
Collins finds his solo shows fun in that way, but he prefers playing with a full band. “It’s nice to be able to look back at the stage and see someone looking back. The camaraderie of it is nice,” he said.
Collins has been around music his entire life. When he was young, his dad played saxophone for the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach for thirteen years. He also has two brothers who play music. Collins attributes a lot of his love for music and success thus far to his father. “I don’t even know if I’d be doing what I’m doing if my dad didn’t play music,” Collins said.
Collins’ songs are very instrument-driven rather than lyric driven, as could be expected of someone who plays as many as he does. Every sound in his songs is intentionally placed there. Collins then bases his lyric writing around what words he feels fit best with the music. “I almost use words as another vehicle for emotion [in songwriting],” Collins said. Collins never went to school for music, so he never studied music theory. He just writes to convey whatever emotion he wants to put forth. “It’s a magic thing about writing, not knowing what’s going on, but chasing a vibe or a feeling through different tones,” Collins said. Collins is a big admirer of other artists who write for themselves and not for critics or to be well liked.
At the end of the day, Collins just wants to be known as a humble guy who likes to play good music, and to have his own niche in the musical community. He believes that being known as a good person is important, and values the people in his life who are encouraging to him and to other local musicians. “Music is really easy to get discouraged with and quit. People start playing instruments and give up immediately because it’s hard. If you start writing songs and put them out in the world and they’re not recieved the way you thought they’d be, it feels like time wasted,” Collins said. “It’s just discouraging. So I’d [like to] thank a lot of people for being that rock of support in my life.”
Collins currently has one album out on Spotify entitled Living History, and you can find his most recent album For Ourselves on Bandcamp. Both can be described as experimental alternative rock. Collins’ use of his multiple instruments coupled with his soothing but not overpowering lyrics make these songs different than many other artists in Charleston. Living History is the perfect soundtrack to study to, or perhaps to unwind with a glass of wine after a particularly long day.