Joseph Cultice; inset: Matrix/Flynet
August 04, 2008 08:50 AM

He’s shared the stage with his father – legendary musician Phil Collins – but getting into the studio to record his first American album with pops wasn’t all fun and games for Simon Collins. “In the studio it was all about, like, ‘Okay, let’s kick some serious ass!'”

The London-born musician is releasing U-Catastrophe, paving his own music path (with a little help from dad, who plays drums with him on the tune “The Big Bang”) and used his own struggles as inspiration for the album. So does the elder Collins give the album a thumbs up? Says Simon: “He loves it!”

PEOPLE has a first listen of two of Simon’s songs. Listen here:

“Us (Love Transcends)”

“Disappearing”

PEOPLE Talk a little about the singles we’re streaming:
Simon: “Us (Love Transcends)” is one of the most personal songs on the record. It’s a love song to (partner Debora Lucyk) and also to my stepdaughter Raine – Debbi’s daughter Raine – to let them know how important they are in my life … When I played the demo for my dad, he immediately wrote back, ‘Man, that one hit me big time.’ So that’s certainly one of my dad’s favorite songs. “Disappearing,” that song just kicks ass. It’s the angst I wanted to get out of my system about global warming. I know everyone’s sick of hearing about it but it’s not gonna go away. It’s one of those things that I’m gonna keep singing about and everyone’s gonna keep doing their bit.

PEOPLE: What does your dad think of the album as a whole?
Simon: He loves it, from what he’s told me. I really found my voice on this record. I really found my way. Pouring your heart and soul out into your vocals, that’s something you can’t teach someone. I think that’s been one of the most joyous things for my dad, saying, ‘You’re singing your bollocks off!’

PEOPLE: What was it like to work with your dad?
Simon: That was amazing. We’ve been wanting to work together for so long. We’ve worked together on various demos and we’ve played together on stage, but to actually go into the studio, we’ve never done that before.

Was it like a dad and his son in the studio, or just two artists working together?
Simon: There’s a mutual respect there. Of course, after the recording we had some downtime, we went for dinner and had a chance to catch up. But in the studio it was all about, like, ‘Okay, let’s kick some serious ass!’

How did you come up with the title of the album U-Catastrophe?
Simon: I guess you could use the analogy of when someone hits rock bottom, they’re faced with a situation where they need to change their life. Their relationship is in dire straits, they might lose their job – whatever it might be, you have to make those necessary changes to save your life. It’s a cool title because it can be interpreted on many different levels. Actually one person thought that the ‘u’ meant, as in ‘me.’ Like I’m looking at myself in the mirror like, ‘Oh, you’re a catastrophe.’ It could be interpreted that way but that’s certainly not a positive affirmation!

Were you at that point when you were writing the album?
Simon: I went through some hard times a couple years ago and I had to find a way back to love and a way back to living a life that I knew was healthy for me. There were certain things I felt a need to sing about, so a lot of these songs were inspired by my own personal u-catastrophe.

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