Off With Their Heads' new album Be Good is available now.
“All the other records were about moping around and feeling sorry for yourself,” says frontman Ryan Young. “This one is less about feeling sorry for yourself and more about accepting how goddamn miserable you are.”
Young and the band members—bassist Robbie Smartwood, guitarist John Polydoros, and new drummer Kyle Manning—holed up at The Hideaway in Minneapolis with additional recording at Pachyderm Studios, a mid-century mansion where Nirvana recorded In Utero, to make Be Good. Young produced the record himself, and it was the first time he enjoyed the process, or at least tolerated it. “I don’t like how the old records sound, and I hate recording so much,” he says. “You could just hear all the dumb shit on them where I was like, whatever, just let it go, I want to get out of here.”
Forced acceptance is a big theme of Be Good, though it’s a hard-learned one, often emerging in the form of primal screams in the band’s trademark style of gruff-punk. “Hands up to the sky and shout at the top of your lungs, ‘til the floor falls out!” Young yells on the title track, sounding somewhere between motivational speaker and hard-nosed therapist.
Much of the self-deprecation that defined the band’s previous work has been adjusted. It was the years spent out of the van, developing a life at home in Chicago, that gave Young his newfound, slightly more positive perspective. “Not being on the road 250 days a year, actually trying to develop some sort of life outside of playing shows and drinking, you’d be surprised what that does,” he says.
If ever there was a time for Ryan Young’s distinct brand on cautious optimism, it’s now. “The title is an answer to that question of what you’re supposed to do now that the world is so awful and the climate of this stupid country is so shitty,” he says. “Be good, be loud—that’s sometimes all you can do, I guess, as cheesy as that sounds."