for slate.com, | October 21, 2021

Twitter’s Funniest, Weirdest Ex–Rock Star Explains Himself

Eve 6 was never the biggest band. But now, it’s one of the best Twitter follows.

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Is it humiliating to be a member of the band Eve 6? That seems to be the core thesis of its official Twitter account, where you’ll find unbridled truths among joke tweets. Twenty years have passed since the California trio laid siege to the pop charts, culminating in a pair of hits, “Here’s to the Night” and “Inside Out,” that evoke a particularly turgid stretch of mid-’90s aesthetica: frosted tips, puka shells, the post-Nirvana major label feeding frenzy that gobbled up thousands of dirtbag and grunge-adjacent punks among them. This is not a catalog that’s aged gracefully; even among the titans of Gen X sourness, Eve 6’s music is only summoned up in the waning afterglow of nostalgia sets, long after the DJ has cycled through the heavy hitters like Wheatus, Harvey Danger, and Soul Asylum.

But long after the foreclosure of the alt-rock boom, the band has somehow posted its way right back into our lives, surviving in an outré, post-ironic way that all of its peers could not. Marcy Playground is nowhere to be found, but here is Eve 6, front and center, asking Maynard James Keenan if he likes that heart in a blender song.

“It’s not particularly glamorous or flattering, but that’s what makes [the Twitter] so wonderful and so rife for comedy,” says Max Collins, lead singer of Eve 6 and the primary voice behind the band’s social media presence. “The band is in this strange, psychedelic phase now. Everything about it has been patently absurd. It’s all been useful fodder.”

The Eve 6 renaissance kicked off in earnest last December. Out of nowhere, the band started to appear in my Twitter feed, which initially seemed like a bizarre, sweaty, late-pandemic hallucination. Collins tells me that he broke ground on the account in 2012 due to a mandate from his manager, then lurked around the platform for years, slowly honing his posting instincts while enjoying the voyeuristic pleasures of observing the intangible drama of the internet from a safe distance. But when Collins finished a fresh Eve 6 EP—the first new music from the band in nearly a decade—he dusted off the Twitter page to let the band’s “pretty modest fan base” know that Eve 6 was coming back. “Once I got into the rhythm, it became a wrangling of rigorous honesty and performance,” says Collins. “My prerequisites for a post is, is it true, is it funny, and can I anticipate the worst possible interpretations?”

The digital relics of washed rock bands are usually either entirely dormant or reeking of a predatory, feral-capitalist aroma—think Kings of Leon releasing an album as an NFT. But the dispatches from Eve 6 headquarters took a different angle entirely. Here was Max Collins, someone who could once very, very briefly call himself a pop star, slowly unfurling the incredible highs and crushing lows of one-hit wonder fame with indescribable candor. Each confession was more outrageous than the last, all of them rich with fascinating implications. “I ever tell you about the time the guy from Third Eye Blind told me he fucked my girlfriend?” Collins wrote, late last year. “I was literally a virgin when I wrote the heart in a blender song,” he revealed, a few days before. Some 98,000 people are following Eve 6 on Twitter now, as he parses through these ancient indignities that were previously guarded knowledge among the attendees of long-forgotten VMAs after-parties. It’s a trove. There are countless books and documentaries that chronicle the pantheon of the recording industry—go pick up Keith Richards’ autobiography if you want to know what it’s like to be enormously successful for your entire career—but the Eve 6 Twitter feed is one of the few testimonies we have of a much more mysterious avenue of cultural ubiquity. Finally, here is a chance to know what it’s like to peak in the mid-30s on the Billboard Hot 100, then immediately disappear from the face of the Earth.

“I view everything that happened to me from this anthropological distance. I don’t really identify with it. I think that makes my vantage point unique,” says Collins. “It’s an appraisal of my points of pride and points of embarrassment. It’s interesting to me, but interesting to other people because I don’t think it’s shared that often.”

Today, Collins has become one of the many chronic tweeters in the endless Online Conversation, sifting through the day’s news, firing off frequent half-formed takes, fluent in the syntax of panoptical online-ness. When I roll out of bed and check the timeline on a bleary weekday morning, as we all prepare for yet another day of grim pandemic subsistence, I can trust that Eve 6 has joined the chorus with the rest of the acrid commentators, tearing up whatever was unlucky enough to land in the trending tab. From critiques of capitalism to the ongoing Machine Gun Kelly/Megan Fox affair, Collins has found a permanent home in the churning discourse. (Lately, Collins is actively petitioning Smash Mouth, another band with a kooky social media presence, to add him as a new lead singer, following the controversial retirement of lead singer Steve Harwell.) Eve 6 will always serve as shorthand for an unfashionable period of sneering ’90s schmaltz, but Collins has successfully added an authentic voice to the pastiche—a reminder that there are real people behind the memes who absolutely understand why people cringe and laugh when that “heart in a blender song” passes through the airwaves. Maybe we were never giving Eve 6 enough credit.

“When you’re a young artist, you have this narcissism that you’re going to be understood. That people are going to understand you, and love you, because they’re going to hear the contents of your mind. Of course that’s not what happens. You turn into a product and are totally misunderstood,” he says. “That’s the experience of having a big record. The experience of having a big Twitter account is that people do kind of get to know you. That comes with its own problems, but there is something kind of nice about it.”

Collins isn’t sure what the future holds. Eve 6 hasn’t been on a real tour in forever, and has restricted its live performances to a few random one-offs since its popularity crested in the late ’90s. Could the band’s newfound Twitter ubiquity power a creative resurgence as well? Is there a dimension out there where Collins brokers his radical honesty back into the Billboard 100? Probably not, but I like the idea of Eve 6 shitposting its way back to the top. (Collins says he’s in talks with the organizers of Riot Fest, a haven for aging punk rockers, after he consistently roasted them on Twitter.)

But of course, Collins is aware of the most important adage on the internet: “Normal people aren’t on Twitter,” he says. “Most people aren’t aware of this lexicon.” Perhaps that makes Eve 6 the perfect band for the platform; we’ll all keep arguing and oversharing, here in this beautiful oblivion.