The incredibly creative duo that makes up Prozzak is back in a big way with a new CD and a new national tour that includes a City stop at Bo’s on April 10th.
Forever 1999, simply put, marks a terrific reunification of the very talented Simon and Milo (Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum) who first burst on the scene back in 1998.
After something of a hiatus to pursue individual careers, the duo are indeed ready to take 2017 by storm with a new single, the superbly-crafted Love Me Tinder which was released early last month.
All The Feels is another fun, polished cut from the new CD, as is the compelling Love Fools Anonymous featuring Wackboyz. Hot brings back memories of Right Said Fred’s smash I’m Too Sexy back in the 90s – down to the perfectly fitting monotone vocal. Similarly, Ooh La La slows things down nicely, but keeps things grooving thanks in part to the input again of Wackyboyz.
Things take a charming acoustic turn on Adaptation which really shows a different, mellower and more thoughtful and personal side of the band.
But ultimately, it’s also pretty tough to beat the irresistible and rhythmic charms of the towering and nicely nostalgic title cut. The project was slated for a March 31st release.
“It’s equal parts very exciting and really nervous – like you are about to go on a massive roller coaster on your way up,” explains McCollum of the current tour during a recent interview. “It will be fun but there are definitely some nerves as it’s been awhile, and you know, when you are making a record it’s all fun. But you never know how it will be received,” he said.
“We are excited to see the fans, and that’s one of the reasons why we decided to do a new album,” he added. “We are also sensitive to the fact of not wanting to just play a bunch of new songs – most people also want to come and hear the songs that they grew up with, too. We definitely play all of those – no worries there.”
The guys have done a few dates over the past several months, during which they had an incredible time and a tremendous response as well, he said. “We’ve really got great fans.”
Initially, for Forever 1999, they thought they would try to write 10 songs in 10 days.
“That was our goal. We did do 10 songs, but they all didn’t make the album. It’s pretty hard to come up with 10 great songs in a row,” he added with a laugh. But over time, they came up with the sonic gems that landed on the disc. “When we decided to get ‘into’ Prozzak, it was like getting into a warm bath or something like that – something really comfortable. And the ideas came really quick.”
But back to the beginning.
According to Wikipedia, “Prozzak are two animated characters named Simon and Milo. The creation of Simon and Milo initially began with accents suggested by the other members of The Philosopher Kings during their road trips. One thing led to another and the cartoon characters became a part of Prozzäk.
“The friendship of Jay and James brought together through music is referenced with the origins of Simon and Milo. The two are over 200-years-old and were enemies in a previous life.
“Simon and Milo fought each other in a 20-year-old war called ‘Ochiyaki’. During their battles with each other, a Great Unseen Voice projected down from the sky and told them they were to be best friends, sent through time to the 21st century, where they were given a mission.
“That mission was for the two to find true love through their music.”
Their debut album, Hot Show, followed Simon’s search for love around the globe, and was set to infectious dance/pop songs. It was also a commercial and critical blockbuster, going multi-platinum.
In 2000, Prozzak released their second CD, Saturday People, which vaulted to platinum and was nominated for a Juno for Best Pop album.
After that, Levine and McCollum took a few years to focus their time on production work, including Fefe Dobson’s debut CD.
Then in 2005, Prozzak released their third project Cruel Cruel World featuring the track When I Think of You.
They then decided it was the right time to devote time to some individual projects.
Levine became a writer/producer and musical executive in New York and Los Angeles.
McCollum went to co-write and produce hits for Divine Brown, (Old School Love) and Nelly Furtado’s Spanish CD Mi Plan which won a 2011 Latin Grammy, He spent the next five years in London writing, recording and producing with James Blunt, Jessie J, Yuna, Olly Murs and more.
But ultimately, the time was right for something of a get-together. The magic was still there – and then some.
In the summer of 2015, Prozzak performed a sold-out reunion in Toronto and the fun of the experience inspired the guys to get the band back together.
“It was such a crazy response,” recalled McCollum. “We didn’t realize the impact that Simon and Milo had made on other people. It’s so much fun, so it was like okay, let’s make some more music.”
A new single, Baby I Need Your Love (Pussy Cat) was released and shows at various festivals followed such as Toronto’s NXNE and Victoria’s Rifflandia followed.
“Nothing makes me feel more alive than performing,” he said.
“Writing songs and performing for people are two of the definite high points of my life.”