Still sucks to be Simon: Cartoon pop act Prozzäk talks existential dread

By Jennie Orton
Simon and Milo return for a little nostalgia and relatability.

Simon and Milo return for a little nostalgia and relatability.

VANCOUVER — In this new generation of attention deficit and social media proximity and planned obsolescence and bingeing on television, it would stand to reason that the idea of romance as an addiction would be a widely identified common ground; one that would certainly be alleviated by a band named after the drug we created to help us find happiness within our staggeringly suffocating anxieties caused by it all. And it would appear our addiction to it is still in full swing.

When former Philosopher Kings Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum reunited as Prozzäk for the first time in over a decade to play the nerdtastic Atomic Lollipop festival in Toronto, the reaction was unpredictably massive.

“We were shocked about how many people were still interested,” recalls Levine.

This enthusiastic welcoming back by fans led to the decision to write new music and schedule a tour; and a collective happy sigh was heard from all of us who are desperate to dose our Strange Disease with something catchy while hopelessly trapped in an era of Adele making us all want to drown ourselves in sad bubble baths.

“There was a lot of shallow pop stuff in the nineties, and even though this is presented as fun music, it’s still got some truth to it and it’s got some heartache to it,” says Levine. “I think it touched a chord with people when they were 15 and now they’re 30 or 35 so they can relate to something real about it.”

So what have Simon and Milo, Levine and McCollum’s animated Euro-Pop alter-egos that make up Prozzäk, been up to while we’ve all been maneuvering our 20s in this cruel, cruel world?

“Well Simon recently has been attending a love addicts group and has been exploring self-help,” reveals Levine. The pitfalls of which are examined in the recently released new single “Love Fools Anonymous.”
Milo, on the other hand, has been dabbling in tantric meditation with his partner, attempting to explore intimacy and retain that zen exterior that makes him such a level-headed foil for Simon’s well explored neurosis.

Levine attended love addicts anonymous to explore the idea of lovesickness for this project and to get
deeper connected to Simon and found that he had more in common with his cartoon counterpart than previously thought.

“I thought I had a major problem with love addiction, and it turns out I do,” he admits. “Like most of us do.”

It is this human propensity for addiction, particularly to love, that these men believe make Prozzäk such a relatable and deeply embraced vessel of nostalgia and pop poetry.

“I think it’s existential dread and fear of death,” muses McCollum.

“And the desire to be worthy of having,” adds Levine.

Maybe it is both those very human tendencies that not only make us thirst for that hooky little remedy to longing that Prozzäk provides, but also draws Simon and Milo out of their exile and back to the stage.

“Atomic Lollipop definitely inspired Jay and I, and the characters too, to kind of jump back to life,” admits McCollum. “I think the characters are kind of maturing.”

Levine disagrees. “I don’t think Simon is ever gonna find true love. He is going to continue to have a lifetime of inappropriate relationships for everyone’s entertainment.”

Good news for all of us who are unlucky at love and looking for a bit of our own neurotic addiction dipped in Euro-Pop cheekiness, sprinkled with pain, and spouted from the neckless, hapless, shameless form of our hero and cautionary tale, Simon.

Sucks to be us; let’s dance about it. Some things never change.

Prozzäk perform throughout Western Canada this summer and fall. Catch them at Taste of Edmonton on July 27th, at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on September 17th and 18th, and in Calgary at The Gateway on September 20th and 21st.

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