They were a staple of triple j and widely cited as one of the best live bands in the country. A beacon for rock pigs nationwide and part of a new wave of bands like The Avalanches and the Modular stable that were making Aussie music cool again.
But then, as these things often go, it all fell apart. “Music is almost like gambling,” says Johnny Mackay. “You’re rolling the dice with your life if you’re making music. It’s fun while you’re doing it, and it’s possible it may pay off, but in the end it probably won’t.”
In the case of Children Collide, the band that Mackay fronted for seven years, the investment paid dividends, including a top five ARIA chart debut for their second album, 2010’s critically acclaimed Theory Of Everything.
However, as the Sydney Morning Herald notes in a recent profile on Mackay, as the band went on, the frontman found himself growing tired of the upheaval involved, spending tours absorbed in his headphones, making electronic music.
Mackay received encouragement from Darren Seltmann of the Avalanches in his electronic pursuits, turning the experimental tracks into a new side-project, which he dubbed Fascinator. After a move to New York in 2012, Fascinator became his sole project.
“I didn’t really think Children Collide was going to go the way it did. And officially it hasn’t, but, whatever,” Mackay told Fairfax. “The second I left the country, everyone else was sort of like ‘well, I guess the band’s not happening any more’.”
The end of Children Collide can be traced back to 2012 and the departure of drummer Ryan Caesar, who quit the band just weeks before they were due to launch their third album, Monument, and embark on a national tour.
The fourth man to sit behind the kit for the Melbourne band, Ryan left the band with a refreshingly frank and honest statement in which he explained that his relationship with Mackay had deteriorated to the point where “touring as a unit is no longer pleasant. And that is that”.
Ceasar had already formed Pearls, the three-piece he continues to front to this day. Meanwhile, Mackay still resides in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, close to iconic venue Baby’s All Right, where he DJs regularly.
He’s worked on two Fascinator EPs and a full-length album from his New York apartment and is currently prepping a second LP as he continues to perform the project live, with Fascinator’s theatrical, whimsical live shows garnering acclaim.
However, Mackay hasn’t exactly turned his back on Children Collide. The frontman, Caesar, and bassist Heath Crawley returned to the stage as a unit for two reunion shows back in 2014, giving fans a chance to relive the days when the band were Australia’s resident mosh kings.