After forming in early 2014, New Orleans’ PEARS wasted little time writing and recording their debut LP, Go to Prison. Soon after, they caught the attention of Off With Their Heads singer/guitarist Ryan Young, who subsequently released the album on vinyl via his label, Anxious and Angry. Extensive touring followed and in July of this year, Fat Wreck Chords re-released Go to Prison. We caught up with guitarist/singer Brian Pretus after the band’s recent performance at Riot Fest Chicago at talked about how PEARS got its start. We also discussed their unique sound, which combines aggressive hardcore/punk, chaotic yet detailed songwriting and a hint of melody. Our conversation also touched on the band’s forthcoming second album, which is due out early next year, and more. Continue Reading…
Epitaph – Release Date: 3/12/13
With Home, (their third full-length overall and second for Epitaph) Off With Their Heads has managed to mature without compromising what they’re most known for. Singer/guitarist Ryan Young’s gruff and gravely vocal approach is still present, but he’s also perfected a clean singing voice to use when necessary. His lyrics cover familiar topics like alienation and despair, though there’s now a greater sense of hope than ever before. Some of the songs feature slower tempos, which allows for more variation, yet it’s all brought together by producer Bill Stevenson, who creates a sense of energy and rawness throughout the recording. The album begins with “Start Walking,” a raging opener that doesn’t even hit the two-minute mark, but is able to convey some of the record’s central themes, (self-deprecation, angst and isolation). “Nightlife” is one of Home’s catchiest tracks, complete with buzzing guitars, tons of backing vocals and an instantly memorable part where the music stops and Young deadpans, “Never felt worse in my whole life.” “Altar Boy” details Young’s experiences and issues with the Catholic Church, and it’s followed by “Don’t Make Me Go,” one of the album’s most barren and personal songs. The second half of the album builds with speed and aggression, culminating in “Take Me Out,” a shout-along anthem that ends with a cascade of gang vocals. Home contains some of the best songs that OWTH has written to date, as well as some of their most expressive lyrics. Fans of Midwestern punk with an emphasis on sincerity will no doubt find this to be a highly enjoyable record.
Since their inception in 2002, few bands can claim to have released as much music or toured as frequently as Off With Their Heads. Such productivity has earned them numerous fans and helped the group to become one of today’s most popular independent punk bands. They played Chicago twice this summer and we caught up with singer/guitarist Ryan Young shortly afterwards to discuss their latest album and Epitaph debut, In Desolation, as well as touring, record labels, the meaning behind some of their songs and future plans. Continue Reading…
Epitaph – Release Date: 6/8/10
For their Epitaph debut, In Desolation, Off With Their Heads has done little to tweak their tried and true formula. Instead, they’ve merely enhanced and perfected it. The band’s songs may typically only contain four chords, but it’s not about the caliber of complexity. What’s paramount is the unique manner in which the arrangements are crafted, as well as the various tempos that are unexpectedly employed. Also significant is singer Ryan Young’s distinctive, gravelly, angst-filled vocal delivery. His lyrics often speak of despair and sorrow, but there’s always at least a shred of hopefulness to be found. Just as Young’s overall performance has progressed, so too has the level of musicianship displayed by the rest of the band, hence creating one of those rare albums that’s not only balanced, but also sets a new benchmark for the group. “Drive” is an energizing opener that gallops with vigorous intensity, and “Trying to Breathe” is a soaring proclamation of exasperation that’s instantly memorable. “I Just Want You to Know” is truly a touching and beautiful pop punk love song, while “Clear the Air” ends the record with striking vulnerability and passion. Previous admirers of OWTH shouldn’t hesitate to acquire this album, for it legitimately is their finest release to date. In Desolation is highly recommended for supporters of Dillinger Four and/or ‘90s East Bay punk, not to mention anyone interested in hearing one of the top offerings put out by Epitaph in years.
All photos by Katie Hovland. Click on a photo to enlarge.