Song Premiere: Stream Red Collar’s “Welcome Home”
When I graduated from UNC in 2008, I moved back to my parents’ house in Charlotte to give Shuffle a full-time shot. Even though I was moving “back home,” it felt like I’d left home a couple hours up I-40.
It was during one of my frequent trips back to the Triangle, probably in late-2010, as it became more and more certain that I’d be moving back home, again, to the Triangle, that Red Collar pulled this song out in a live set. It wasn’t the first time a Red Collar song had knocked me sideways; “Used Guitars” buried itself in my brain the first time I heard it in 2006. But this time, it felt like it was about me. I don’t think it was, but it sure as hell felt like it. I was standing in front of the stage at Local 506, a spot I’d practically etched my footprints into during the preceding years, and this band I’d grown so attached to, was greeting me like a prodigal son.
“Oh my god, oh my god/ How long has it been/ Since I’ve seen that smile?/ One year? Two years? Who cares?/ You’re here now.”
One of the perks — it’s usually a perk, anyway — of involving oneself in a local scene is you get to see bands after they step off the stage. That’s certainly the case with Red Collar, who hooked me with their music long before we became friends.
To be honest, it’s a little awkward writing about them, anymore, though I’ve done more than my fair share. The first time I heard Red Collar, they were a new Durham band when being a new Durham band was a novel idea. I sent friends to see them in Chapel Hill dives before I was old enough to tag along, and quickly that stopped being a concern. Red Collar graduated to larger rooms with lower age restrictions months before my 21st birthday.
By the time I could legally raise a can and sing along with “Used Guitars,” I’d seen Red Collar in living rooms with broken P.A.s, the cavernous half-full Cat’s Cradle, a converted warehouse and reclaimed storefront in Durham, and other rooms around town. I’d started writing about music at The Daily Tar Heel, and Red Collar gave me plenty to write about, then.
It’s harder to write about Red Collar, now. What haven’t I already said? And it’s not the same. They don’t play locally as much as they used to, and I don’t go out so much, either. I’ve missed more than a few Red Collar shows I probably could’ve gone to. I know all the songs, anyway.
Then there’s this. After a gap of more than three years since Pilgrim, Red Collar’s second album is finished, ready to meet the world on June 12. And its title track, the one streaming below, shows up like a friend who hasn’t been around in far too long — who cares how long; it’s here now. What’s left to say? Welcome home. —Bryan C. Reed