Quick & Dirty with Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads

Here is my interview with the frontman and guitarist for the incredible punk rock band, Off With Their Heads, here’s Ryan Young!

Tell me about your life when you formed the band.

We lived in the storage area / basement of my friend’s recording studio. $80 a month for rent. It was awesome. I was in Minneapolis for the sole purpose of starting this band, so that was my entire focus. I was pretty cut throat about how I wanted to do things. It was very much a case of “you are with me, or against me”, even within the band. I was young, always drunk or high, and always working on music. I worked for a painting company doing new construction work while I was getting the band going. I remember hating everyone that I worked with, and any opportunity I got to get out of town, I did. I would frequently drive to Florida on a whim. California for a 3 day weekend? Sure. We actually drove from Minneapolis to San Diego, got out of the car and walked to the beach, hung out for a half hour, and then got in the car and drove back. Needless to say, I was very impulsive when the band started. It was my fuel to avoid the norm. It was a weird mixture of desperation, anger, psychosis, depression and happiness.

Would you say that Andrew W.K. was an influence for Off With Their Heads? What do you enjoy about his music?

I wouldn’t say he was a direct influence on us. I loved “Get Wet” when it came out. It wasn’t really like anything else at the time. That was pretty cool. We had a pretty big “Party Hard” poster at one of the houses OWTH lived at. He is an interesting character as well. I like the fact that he gets weird in interviews, or sometimes really philosophical. It was the exact opposite of what I expected from him. We have crossed paths a few times. I’ve never gone up and introduced myself or anything. I hate feeling like I’m punishing musicians. I heard he digs Off With Their Heads though, so that’s pretty cool.

Where do the inspiration for the band’s lyrics come from?

I write all the lyrics about what goes on inside my head. It seems like most of the songs are incredibly negative, and for the most part, they are. I find more inspiration in anger or sadness than I do in happiness. If you sift through the songs enough, you can find a few about love. For the most part though, they are about the things going on in my weird brain.

What are you looking forward to when you go to Australia in November?

I’m mostly looking forward to hanging out with our pals Boysetsfire. They brought us to Europe last summer, and we hit if off pretty well. The last time we went to Australia with Against Me!, I had a blast. Hopefully shows in this setting will be the same.

What are three of your all-time favorite albums?

That’s a tough question. I can go into what I am listening to now, because I say something is my all time favorite every year. My current favorite punk based album is Morning Glory’s “Poets Were My Heroes”. I haven’t heard something I can relate to as much as this record in years. I feel like it was sort of overlooked, as it came out in 2012. People should pick it up. The National just put out “Trouble Will Find Me”, and it’s incredible. Of course, since it’s records of all time, I would have to say Nirvana’s “Nevermind” as well. There is a reason why that record was as popular as it was. It’s fucking awesome.

What are some of the most underrated OWTH songs?

I don’t really feel like anything is underrated. I think if people aren’t as into a song I do, then I’m not really either. If I really like a song and am excited about it, people usually are as well. I can think of songs that I don’t like playing anymore, but people still want to hear them. I have to draw a line at some point between what I want to do and what people like to hear. I certainly don’t want to be out playing half assed versions of songs that I’m not into. That’s not why I do this.

Which celebrity or musician do you wish could see Off With Their Heads live?

Dave Grohl. I think it would be rad to sit and shoot the shit with him. I always wonder if musicians I respect like that would be into what I’ve done with the band. It wouldn’t bum me out if not, but it is the ultimate form of flattery when you meet the people that influenced you and they are fans. That has happened a bunch, but not on the Dave Grohl scale.

If you could ask Kurt Cobain one question, what would it be?

Honestly, I’m not sure. He seemed like a fucking character, but also really quiet. He and I share / shared some of the same health problems. He had bad stomach pains, and so do I. I guess I would ask him for advice on what to do with chronic pain. I’m going to guess that he wouldn’t have an answer for me though…..

What does it mean to you that CM Punk is a fan of your band?

It’s pretty cool. I don’t get super excited about celebrities or anything. I remember he came out to see us in Chicago when we were on tour with Alkaline Trio. Brendan from The Lawrence Arms came backstage and said he was up in the balcony digging us. He asked if I wanted to meet him, but I was pissed about the show for some reason. I said no. A few months later we were in Chicago getting ready for a tour. I invited him out to dinner with us. He showed up and we started shooting the shit. Turns out he and I are very similar personality wise. From the little I know of the guy, I really like him.

What does punk rock mean to you?

It has nothing to do with getting fucked up and being an irritating piece of shit, which is clearly the definition for more people than I would like to admit. I think it changes the older you get. Nothing pisses me off more than people who bring that word up as an excuse, or accuse me of not being “punk” for the things I do. First off, I don’t really give a shit or want to be part of the douchey little club. Secondly, I’ve used certain elements of the industry / system to my advantage (while remaining ethical) to build a band that has taken me around the world and afforded me the ability to avoid working for the last 6 years. That’s what it means to me. Not following the rules that were set by people that I probably would have hated anyway. Take that in any way you like.


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