For most bands, a nine-year gap between albums would result in tons of pressure and
"Chinese Democracy"-sized angst.
For Eve 6, it's the opposite.
"We weren't afraid to have fun this time," says singer-bassist Max Collins, calling from his home in Los Angeles. "We didn't feel like we had to make a record like the first or the second or the third. We just thought, 'How can we best serve this song?'"
The emphasis on the songs has worked out well for Collins, drummer Tony Fagenson and guitarist Jon Siebels. The band's fourth album, "Speak in Code" (Fearless), arrived last month to a warm reception, putting the trio back on rock radio with the catchy pop-punk single "Victoria" and back on the road headlining their own tour.
"It's been really exciting," Collins says. "We take none of this for granted now, and we see how different it is for a rock band to exist today."
Of course, the increasingly rock-averse music business isn't the only thing that's changed. Eve 6 is much different today than when it debuted in 1998, landing two Top 10 rock singles -- "Inside Out" and "Leech" -- before any of the band members turned 21, which led to a pressurized cycle of near-constant touring and recording that took its toll. By 2004, they needed a break.
"We got lost a little bit," Collins says. "We were not yet fully adult in our minds. We're enjoying things so much more now. I think that speaks to our age and our emotional maturity. We're so grateful for the opportunity now."
When Eve 6 went on hiatus, they went their separate ways -- Fagenson worked on producing for other bands, Siebels formed the band Monsters Are Waiting and Collins worked on some solo material. After a year, Collins and Fagenson began writing and producing for other bands, including the Puddle of Mudd hit "We Don't Have to Look Back Now," as well as working on their own band, The Sugi Tap.
"Tony and I started working together again without any intention of being Eve 6," Collins says. "It took about a year for us to realize -- Tony realized it first -- that we had a whole fan base of people that would want to hear us but didn't know about us being in this band whose name no one could spell."
Collins says they approached Siebels about getting Eve 6 back together, but his band was starting to take off. So they turned to Seaford's Matthew Bair to step in on guitar.
"He's a dear friend," Collins says. "He couldn't have been more perfect. It felt right and he helped us build this thing back up in a live-show sense. It was fortuitous timing for a couple of years, but he's a singer-songwriter in his own right and when he started to get his project going, it wasn't long after that that Jon called me and said, 'Let's do lunch.'" (Bair's major-label debut as Matthew Koma is expected to be released on Interscope later this year.)
Collins credits another Long Islander -- Dix Hills' Ryan Star -- with helping him become a better songwriter before the reunited Eve 6 began.
"Writing with Ryan, for his album '11:59' was one of the first writing bursts that I'd had for a while," Collins says. "It was just really creative and inspiring. I'd never done that before. He was one of the only people I could've felt comfortable with to write like that, and it was really cool. It was profoundly healthy for me to be part of something else, something that wasn't Eve 6."
However, Eve 6 was what Collins and Fagenson really wanted to focus on again and, when Siebels returned, a new creative spark hit the band.
"That chemistry thing? That's a real thing," Collins says. "It's just a joy to play for the three of us. We don't have to think about it. We just started to gain momentum. Everyone had had their respective individual experiences away from the band, so there was this newness to go along with the familiar."
The momentum continued with writing "Speak in Code." "We go from a song like 'Victoria,' which is the anti-club song, to something more acoustic like 'Moon,' to 'Curtain,' which has this crazy bass line,'" Collins says. "It goes back to the band's original pop-punk roots, but it has this new rock and roll energy."
And the momentum also has found its way into the band's campaign to reconnect with fans. "It's been a steady uphill trudge, getting people to believe again," Collins says. "But we're intent on doing it the right way and doing it well.
"It's fun -- doing this pop-rock thing for a living," he adds, laughing. "Life's not too bad."
WHO Eve 6
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Monday, Gramercy Theatre, 127 E. 23rd St.,
INFO $20; 516-334-0800, livenation.com
The return of the '90s
Eve 6's triumphant return to rock radio and the touring circuit is only part of this summer's revisiting of the grunge and post-grunge era.
THE BAMBOOZLE. The massive festival celebrates its 10th anniversary by returning to its Asbury Park, N.J., roots, with a wildly eclectic lineup that ranges from Bon Jovi to Skrillex. There will be plenty of '90s rockers on hand, including Foo Fighters and Blink-182, as well as Spacehog and Anti-Flag. (May 20, North Beach, Asbury Park, N.J.)
SUMMERLAND TOUR. It will be one '90s radio hit after another when Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy Playground band together for a night of grunge and pop. (July 18, Roseland Ballroom)
LAST SUMMER ON EARTH TOUR. It's a package tour featuring Barenaked Ladies, Cracker, Blues Traveler and Big Head Todd & the Monsters that runs the gamut of the '90s alternative radio format. (Aug. 14, Nikon Theater at Jones Beach)