Ryan Young of Off with Their Heads recently took some time to have an in–depth discussion with our own lmnndtlgrph (Sam North). Young talks about what Off With Their Heads has been up to, about the band's wealth of recordings and what else he may have up his sleeve in the next little while.
Off With Their Heads recently released the compilation, All Things Move Toward Their End, which contained many of their various seven–inch records.
Earlier in the year, you wrote a message that seemed to indicate that the band was barely hanging on by a thread -that it could fall apart at anytime. Youâve got a new full length out soon, but youâve also just moved across the country from everyone thatâs been a part of Off With Their Heads thus far. What does the bandâs future look like right now?
Since the beginning of this band, its always pretty much been on the verge of falling apart. We all have… interesting personalities. Thatâs why we've had 43 members in the band. I do remember the message you are talking about though. We were on tour and had a little powwow in the van before a show. I asked the guys -Justin and Josh -if they wanted to tour non-stop for a while instead of touring - going home and working - touring - going home and working. They declined. I was pretty bummed out. I am the kind of person who canât really stay in the same place for too long. Thatâs why I moved to California. I didn't see the band doing anything for a while, so I bailed out. I made sure I stuck around long enough to record a good record. I think people have had more than enough of us for the time being. We released something like eight records in 2007. Thatâs enough for a while.
I had heard that "interesting personalities," as you put it, had contributed to all of the member changes. Is that constant flux something that's bothered you or do you think in some way it's been a positive thing for the band's development or your songwriting?
Justin and I are the only ones that have anything to do with song writing. Nate Ganglehoff from Banner Pilot plays bass on most of the records. He adds all that crazy shit on the bass that nobody else can pull off. He canât really tour because he has a pretty decent job and he saves his vacation time for Banner Pilot. I totally understand. If it were my choice, he would come with on every tour. He is a great dude. Get him drunk and he talks shit to frat guys like you wouldn't believe. It's pretty much a collective of six people right now. We all get along really well. It just took a while to get used to each other. I'd say itâs been pretty cool having that many people in the band. Keeps it fresh.
When Paddy was playing bass though, he wrote or co-wrote some songs, right? Did Alex from Panthro get in on the writing process too when he played with you recording the Tiltwheel split?
The only thing Paddy wrote was the bass line and the end part of 'Call the Cops.' He didn't stick around for the vocals. The studio is right next to a White Castle. I seem to remember that being involved for some reason. When Alex was around, he wrote his song, 'Aqua Panther,' and we played a Panthro UK song live a bunch of times.
That sounds about right. I remember, during the D4 set from Krazyfest, Paddy making a lot of White Castle-related remarks.
You should have seen when The Fuck Yeahs recorded. Dudes had some kind of burger eating contest. Paddy told me that Billy can take down 17 of them.
You mentioned that you wanted to stick around in Minneapolis long enough to put together a solid full-length. By my count though, the releases you've done in the last two years alone had enough songs as to potentially constitute three full-lengths.
We liked the idea of having a bunch of singles and EPs. Before the All Things record, we were going to re-record a bunch of stuff and release it as a full-length. I'm glad we did it the way we did. Itâs like having a new full-length record without doing any work. If you knew us well, you would realize how lazy we actually are.
As long as we're on the subject of all those singles and EPs, how do you feel about the recent surge in record collecting? What do you think of kids obsessing over finding every version/color of your records? Do you collect records?
I've collected records my whole life. Unfortunately, I always go through phases where I refuse to own anything other than a guitar and I always wind up giving them away. Now I just have a bunch of really funny street punk seven inches and picture discs that I bought on sale for a buck each. You want some Casualties or Street Brats records? Iâm your guy. As far as other people collecting them, I think its funny. Everyone has their thing, so whatever.
Your recent split with the Measure has spawned the usual message board bitching and moaning -this time because of the lyrical shift in attitude. Obviously, you're not going to write something that you're not really feeling, but given fan expectations, were you at all compelled to keep things from getting a little too sunny?
Justin and I talk about that all the time. I could write a song about flying on a hot air balloon throwing candy to elves if I wanted to. I donât give a shit what anyone expects of us. We donât bow to any shtick or genre or style. We just do what makes us happy. If people canât deal with that, then they should probably go listen to whatever safety punk band is hot right now. Make sure they write everything to their standards.
Keeping with the "whining on the internet" theme, some kids were crying about your -still in print -early '07 splits not being included on the All Things collection. I think a slightly more legitimate complaint would be about the absence of the Fine Turning the Bender EP, 'Aqua Panther,' or 'Gargoyles on the Skyline.' Why did you opt to leave those off the record?
Aqua Panther was Alex's song. I thought he might want to play that in other bands he would go on to. The songs on Fine Tuning were just weird. We never really dug them too much. Itâs pretty much a different band. If you dig in the right spot in St. Augustine FL, you will dig up the last remaining copies. Probably a good hint to post-apocalyptic vinyl pirates. As for 'Gargoyles,' well, we honestly just forgot about that song. We donât really use file sharing interweb tools, so it just slipped our memory. If I could go back, I would have thrown it on there. Maybe it can come out on our "B-sides and C-sides" collection.
You played organ and sang some back-ups on both Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels full-lengths and I've heard something about a collaborative split of cover songs between the two bands sometime soon. What can you tell me about that -and also, are there any other bands you're going to work with in the future, or would maybe like to? Do you have any plans to play music with anybody while you're out in California?
Those guys used to be roommates of mine, so whenever they would record something, I would always go drink their beer. I guess I have to pay for it somehow. As for the collaboration thing, we had an idea to cover two really rare Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show/ Shel Silverstein songs and release them as a single. We went to a bar before hand and got waaaaaaayyyyy too drunk to be in a studio. It turned out pretty lousy. I was passed out on the organ and Jesse was in the vocal booth naked. I havenât heard it, but Dave from Pretty Boy said it turned out pretty crummy. I guess we just have to re-record some vocals. That project might take a little longer than expected. Iâm thinking about doing something out here in CA, but it will be totally different than Off With Their Heads. My friend Mario from Madison Bloodbath and I might do a Tom Petty style thing. My guess is that it will totally suck and nobody will ever hear it.
How did the tour in Japan go? I heard there was some trouble.
We just did an interview with MRR that covered most of that whole situation. All I'll say about that whole thing is Yoichi from Snuffy Smiles can suck a fat dick, and I hope he fucking chokes on it and dies. People should stop supporting sexist scenesters, no matter what they can offer you in return. Outside of him, Japan was an awesome time. Itâs a great country filled with mostly great people -at least the ones we met.
I'll have to check that interview out. I guess itâs a shame you did those records for Snuffy Smiles before going over there. Anyhow, want to field another question in a similar vein but not at all related to Japan or Yoichi?
I didn't make it to the Fest this year. How did it go playing back to back with the Falcon?
A certain incident happened before we played another show on that tour, and The Falcon made the fest dudes change their set time. Understandable.
I think that in itself may be funnier than anything that would have happened had they not changed the set time.
Eh, whatever. Iâm over all that nonsense.
In 'Beijing Cocktail,' you sing, "but it's gaining rather quickly, getting to the point of everyone realizing that we've based our whole lives on something we almost consented to before." What are you referring to with that lyric?
I actually donât think those are the lyrics. I think itâs: "Itâs getting harder, quickly getting to the point of everyone realizing that we've based our whole lives on something we once considered to be fun." I think itâs more about living like a dirt bag. Honestly, I wrote the lyrics for that song right before we recorded it. The reason the lyrics arenât included for it is because itâs just fucking stupid and doesn't make much sense. As I said, I can be a real lazy hack sometimes.
Yeah, I wasn't positive if that was an accurate transcription. I think in this instance, we can trust your expertise. Anyway, aside from the PBT split -and the full length, of course -is there anything else currently in the works, something that you're especially excited for? And if not, looking back -at the dozen or so records you've put out in the last two years alone -are there any that really stand out, any that you're particularly proud of?
The only other idea that we are kicking around right now is a split LP with Philly's The Low Budgets. They are one of the few bands that Justin and I have been totally into since we first heard them. We got the chance to play a couple shows together and we all get along pretty well. Chris Peelout -the singer -loves his Olde English. We donât really want to do any more split seven inches because we feel we've filled the quota for a lifetime of them. We might do another single for the Art of the Underground Singles Series too. It just depends on us having enough song ideas. As far as the things I am proud of, I would have to say the split with Dear Landlord. I love those songs. Die Slow was super fun and funny to record. We knew going into it that people were going to hate it, and that made us love it even more. The 'Warren Zevon' song turned out pretty good too. The dueling metal guitar solos were funny. If you haven't read the book his ex-wife wrote about him, you should definitely pick it up. Itâs called, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Awesome read.
Yeah, I thought the responses to 'Die Slow' were pretty funny -"worst Off With Their Heads song ever" and whatnot.
Like I said, I knew the right people would like it. I haven't actually heard any internet ramblings. I donât get into that shit too much. I know that Zack from Dear Landlord who sometimes records with us said he read on some message board, "I donât get why people are so into Off With Their Heads. They are just The Copyrights with gruff vocals." Then he said there was a giant thread of people agreeing with that. I like The Copyrights and I love the dudes in the band, but I canât really see why anyone would make that comparison. People are retarded and need to show it somehow. Message boards are the best way for them to voice opinions like that. Zack and I want to make enough money in life to do the Jay and Silent Bob thing where they find everyone who talked shit on the internet, go to their house, and kick their ass. That sounds like fun.
Want to answer your own question -something you wish I'd have asked but didnât? Any bands or projects of any kind that you think people should know about?
The only other thing I'd like to add is this: Like every other genius in this day and age, Iâm going to start putting out records again. Iâm teaming up with my girlfriend Jenny's company Highway Won, and we are going to do short run vinyl for bands we like. Our first release will be Minneapolis' own The Fuck Yeahs. They have a nine song seven inch that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. They were always my favorite Minneapolis band. They donât give a shit about anything but fishing and drinking. think Jeremy, the singer, started the band 10 years ago. Paddy Costello joined up a few years back and started writing some songs too. If you are thirsty for a new D4 record, I know one of the songs on this record was supposedly a D4 throwback. It rules. The next release will be a band from Southern California called Turkish Techno. They were the first band I saw after moving to California and they blew me away. Really catchy pop punk with gang choruses. Anthems, dude. Both of these should be out in February. The only other two records I'd like people to party with are The Low Budgetsâ Leave Us a Loan and The Ratchetsâ Glory Bound. Good shit.