Off With Their Heads
DIY is a term now too pretentious and deliberately dripped like slobber from the mouths of PR writers to be taken seriously and probably isn’t the exact term I’m looking for to describe a band on Epitaph Records, but it’s close. Off With Their Heads, who started in 2002 in Minneapolis, have become an all-encompassing enterprise, partly out of the relentless drive which pushes Ryan Young and in turn OWTH forward, and partly; it’s just that thing with the music industry (or any industry) where if you’ve been in it long enough you realize if you want something done right (or the way you want it) you have to do it yourself. Classifying them as DIY works for Off With Their Heads – they make their own merch, run their own online store, book their own tours, and put out their own records; but I prefer a different term – which is a rare and deserved compliment. To me, Off With Their Heads are “a band’s band”. They do what they want the way they want to do it and without some weird air or attitude like it’s a thing to be commended for. Their mission is honest in its cynicism and that makes them stand out in an industry full of bands and brands and people pretending so hard to not care.
Since 2002 Off With Their Heads have released 7 LPs and a litany of lineup changes. Ryan Young is the only thread weaved across all releases. They have toured. They’ve broken up. They’ve gone on hiatus and then toured more. Their latest LP ‘Calm/Collected’ is a reimagined collection of previous songs released by Young’s label, Anxious and Angry.
Now based in Chicago, OWTH has had a somewhat stable lineup featuring Kyle Manning on drums. Together the duo toured across America as the world opened back up, before recruiting Kevin Rotter on bass to support the 10-year anniversary of the beloved record “Home” all across North America and the UK through 2023. The band is Kyle and Ryan but they act within a collective of other musicians who keep things fresh and interesting. OWTH have grown a wide and ambitious fanbase due mostly to Young’s wit and lyrics. Often pinned as a ‘punk band’, Young’s reach exceeds any specific genera. His influences are stretched and varied and in some ways unpredictable. OWTH have been cornered into a genera they painted themselves into, but that’s not wholly who they are. They are a band’s band, pushed forward by a remarkable drive that most musicians I know wish they had – and enough experience to know if they want something done right they better do it themselves.
– Andrew Thomson / Single Mothers / The Drew Thomson Foundation