Off With Their Heads are a revolving door of punk chaos who will soon be hitting our shores as part of their ‘Home‘ touring cycle for the Hits & Pits Festival alongside their buddies in Boysetsfire. Killyourstereo.com caught up with founding member Ryan Young to discuss their travelling, member changes and new music.
What is happening in the Off With Their Heads world at the moment?
We are basically on a break right now for a month, which I guess is pretty normal for most people but we never have any time off. This month we are going down to Florida to play the Gainsville festival and then next month Australia.
You guys excited about coming down?
I am yeah, very excited, when that opportunity came up I was ecstatic. Australia for us is awesome on its own and to be able to do it with all of those bands makes it even more rad.
Do you find that the experience is made better by that kind of company?
Absolutely, especially because we’re friends with a couple of those bands, Boysetfire took us on tour in Europe a couple of Summer’s ago and we spent a month with them getting pretty tight, so it should be a good time. Boysetsfire are very excited to come down I know that.
Let’s talk about the revolving door that is your band, you have said you like it that way because it keeps things fresh but is it also a bit annoying to keep teaching people songs and getting tight with new musicians?
Well, we never really have to worry about the second half of that because we’re not really known for being the tightest live band ever (laughs) we mostly are known for taking whatever party is happening backstage on to the stage and just seeing what happens. I’ve never thought that live music needs to be like the record you know? You want to add a little human touch to it and we are real good at that, that’s my code word for saying we’re just awful live sometimes. But that’s part of the thing we have always done. As far as it being a pain in the ass to get new members in it’s really not because I just say, here’s forty songs, just know them and they always do so (laughs). Our rehearsal for our first show, we just showed up said "is it cool if we just play an hour because we didn’t practice and just need to run through all this stuff" so, we played for an hour and a half, it was ridiculous but it went pretty well.
Does it give you a sense of security knowing that regardless how other members feel, this band will continue for as long as you want it to because you can just replace people?
Yeah, that’s why when I started ten years ago I kind of wanted that personal bit of security so I could always keep doing it and not be at the whim of anyone else. We’ve had the same guys for over a year so it’s sort of stuck for a bit it’s just some of them now can’t go to other countries, specifically Canada does not like to let us in because of criminal records and what not so we have a couple of guys on deck who can come and go when the others can’t.
So what should fans be expecting from the upcoming tour as opposed to the first time you were down here?
It depends on the set time, if we have enough time you might get to hear some of my terrible stand up comedy routine, a lot of times I won’t say a word and we’ll just play as many songs as we can. We’ve been playing a lot of stuff off the latest record which people like, but we are also known to just take requests and play old songs, it’s a free for all which keeps people happy.
Let’s talk about the new record a little, upon reflection and based on people’s reactions, is it what you wanted it to be?
Kind of, I never really look at it as far as reactions because the tracks we play off the new record that people like I think, "Really? That one? Why?" I was telling my girlfriend last night, I got to make something I’m one hundred per cent happy with, I think I like six songs off the new record, which is more than the four off the last one I like. I want to write a record that I like twelve songs, that I can get one hundred per cent behind, but I guess it depends on my mood for that day.
How can you not like them, they are your songs?
Because they’re specific to a certain time in my life when I write them and if that certain thing isn’t really an issue anymore then I can’t get behind it, so we have certain songs that I think I never want to play that again but it’s mostly older stuff, nothing new. I try to keep it as legit as I can by liking what I’m saying.
You don’t have to like it, you just have to be passionate about it.
Exactly. You’re right, but there is still songs where I’m like "meh."
So how much planning goes into a record before you create it?
Not nearly as much as I would like. We showed up for the last record with less than half of it finished, in the studio, day one, just like well we have always done it this way before so let’s just write under tons of pressure because it seems to be the only way to motivate us but I really hate doing that. The month when we sit down together and make a record is just stress induced ulcers and not a good month until it’s done. I’d like to not do that anymore.
You guys have a pretty relaxed approach to everything band related though, was this a conscious decision to keep things fun?
Yeah, it’s not that conscious it’s more a bad excuse for not being prepared all the time. I’d like to do everything the correct way but we’ve tried and it doesn’t work so it’s more of a go with the flow. Everything has its pluses and minuses but with this it depends on the day, sometimes we’re like, "Godamn why can’t we do things like normal people."
Does the weight of your responsibilities come into it? You still have to make a living.
Yeah, the cost of everything is ridiculous, we play a style of music that isn’t really that popular so doing that while not changing to accommodate what’s popular now makes things difficult. We’ve had every opportunity to change but we’re just like, "nah, let’s keep doing what we do." If the times changed in our favour, awesome, if not at least we never compromised and did something we didn’t want to do.
Do you find that the genre is a little better received overseas?
Take a band like Good Riddance, will play here to a hundred and fifty people then they will go and play to a festival of ten thousand people in Europe all singing along, it’s definitely not the popular thing in the states, there’s like three thousand people who are dedicated to that style of music and everyone else is just randomly into it so it is different everywhere else, even Canada, they are a little more open minded about certain things at least.
So what are your plans after this year’s touring, early next year?
We are going to every major US city before we finish touring the last record, which brings us up to March then back to Europe in April, then we are going to stop for the summer and actually take a summer off and try and write another record, which I’m actually working on. I like to have as many small ideas as I can and try to tie them all together.
Off With Their Heads play November’s Hits & Pits.
‘Home’ is out now via Epitaph.