By Sarah Mac
CALGARY – This summer, the melancholic punk band Off With Their Heads is heading to Canada for a run of toned-down acoustic shows.
It’s been 15 years since Ryan Young, the brains and ambition behind Off With Their Heads, began delivering his emotional turmoil to the world. The honesty of his lyrics is painful yet beautiful. Speaking from his heart and past experiences, Young has been praised for his candidness on mental illness and awareness. Musically, OWTH somehow makes heavily distorted punk riffs into something catchy, with Young’s distinctively powerful whiskey-soaked voice tying their sound together.
Late last year, OWTH released Won’t Be Missed, which features a collection of previously released songs reimagined in an acoustic style, without skimping on Young’s thunderous vocals, which echoes alongside the acoustics perfectly.
“It’s funny how that came out, we never really wanted to do an acoustic album. I’ve never really played an acoustic guitar before either. I don’t write [songs] on them and actually, I just bought one because I didn’t own one,” says Young.
Laughing, he continues, “I just wanted to record something and I wanted to put out an album on my label [Anxious and Angry]. It seemed the easiest way to do that was to record an acoustic album. Also, I wanted to tour more in between recordings. So we rerecorded a few songs in an acoustic style. And I lucked out, I didn’t have to get too creative.”
Usually Young is accompanied by an ever-changing lineup of musicians, both in the studio and on tour, but for his acoustic sets he likes to keep it simple.
“For the acoustic shows, it’s just Nice John [Polydoros] and I rolling around. We do renditions of some of the songs, and most of it is pretty straight-forward but some of it is a little reworked,” Young explains.
“But, our dumb show will speak for itself. We’re the most self-deprecating, comedy acoustic duo you’re ever going to see,” he laughs half-jokingly.
The last time OWTH came to Alberta it was a straight-up punk rock show. Now, Young is looking forward to a change of pace and a return to our fair nation.
“I haven’t gotten out to Canada as much as I’d like to. Hopefully it will get easier, because I love it there. I love driving through the mountains and I like desolate things. There’s certainly a lot of that up in Canada.”
See Off With Their Heads at one of their many Canadian stops, including Vancouver at the Cobalt Cabaret on June 12, Calgary at the Ship & Anchor on June 15, Edmonton at the Needle Vinyl Tavern on June 16, Saskatoon at Amigos’ Cantina on June 17 or Winnipeg at Windsor Hotel on June 18. More dates available online.Amigo's Cantina, Cobalt Cabaret, Needle Vinyl Tavern, Off With Their Heads, Ship & Anchor, Windsor Hotel