Collins grew up in Long Island with fellow future Dream Theater members John Petrucci, John Myung and Kevin Moore. While those three went off to colleges to study music, Collins decided to join The United States Marine Corps. His enlistment in the USMC never happened however, the very week that he was supposed to go to boot camp he received a phone call from John Petrucci stating that they would like to record an album and that he should audition for the band. Collins recorded vocals for six tracks that the band made into their first demo tape, The Majesty Demos.
Collins wound up frustrating his bandmates with his poor vocal range, bad live performances and on-stage behavior. Eventually Collins left the band and that led to a mutual decision to part company, citing that he was not the man for the job and would never be a success with him in the band, which was a mutual feeling.