5 years ago Collapsing Stars frontman Justin Wayne Nelson quit his job, sold his very practical Honda Civic, bought a mini van and started touring the country with drummer Mike Langhoff. After 10 years of working a dead-end job, which Nelson refers to as his "lost decade," it was time for a change. In the years that followed, he earned producer credits on the deM atlaS record DWNR for Rhymesayers Entertainment (Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Dem Atlas), performed with Mike at the renowned Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, and last year played for over 120K people at Red Bull Crashed Ice (in a fake fur coat while fireworks shot out of his guitar).
In July of 2017 Nelson’s cell phone buzzed at 3am. He rolled over in bed, his eyes still half shut. There was a new message from Dan Wilson. “The record sounds really good, and I love the artwork too.” “I wasn’t sure if I was awake or still dreaming, said Nelson. One of the most highly sought after songwriters in the world said that he liked some music that I wrote, which is extremely high praise coming from such an authoritative source.” The list of Wilson’s song writing credits is extensive. In addition to co-writing Adele’s "Someone Like You", Wilson has written songs for Taylor Swift, Weezer, John Legend, and The Dixie Chicks, just to name a few.
Collapsing Stars’ debut record 2012 is the culmination of an artistic process that took roughly four years, a process that at times wasn’t always smooth. “For the first time in my life, I was experiencing some sort of creative block while trying to compose lyrics,” said Nelson. “I thought that in time it would pass, but after close to a year without any tangible progress on our record, I knew that I needed help.”
Nelson decided to reach out to national recording artist Jeremy Messersmith. “Jeremy is extraordinarily accomplished in his own right, but what people might not know is that he’s a Dan Wilson disciple. So I was the beneficiary of the wisdom and experience of two incredible songwriters. He walked me through his creative process and showed me some word exercises that helped break me out of my artistic paralysis. And a lot of the methodology he was passing along to me was stuff that he learned from Dan when he produced Jeremy’s second record, The Silver City.” Nelson wrote the first verse of the title track “2012” on December 20, 2012. It was the eve of the highly publicized (and widely misinterpreted) “Mayan Apocalypse,” the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mayan calendar.
“It seems like every year, some fanatical group is predicting the end of the world, and I approached this prediction with the same indifference as all the others. But it piqued my curiosity so I decided to write a song about it. The first half of the song is in keeping with the doomsday theme, and I wrote it on the night of the 20th. I woke up the next morning, still breathing. No fire and brimstone. No horsemen. Everything was fine. Here I was, left with half a song to write and I wasn’t exactly sure how to finish it. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that everything isn’t fine. There was no cataclysmic event that brought the world to an end that day, but there are still countless existential threats to humanity. And we keep inventing more of them. These themes inspired the material for the rest of the song, along with several others forming the body of work that we call 2012.”
“My music career may have peaked last spring. I got to perform for 120K people in a fake fur coat while fireworks shot out of my guitar. How will I ever top that?"
- Justin Wayne Nelson