Earlier this month I had the honor to speak with Ryan Olson, the genius and leader of the Midwestern supergroup that is leaving mere bloggers to Prince hushed and entranced over Relayted. With its soothing sax whispering sweet nothings in your ear, accompanied by Justin Vernon, Maggie Morrison, Zach Coulter, and Dessa amongst (18) others, the 69 beats per minute magnum opus to 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" is about to hit the road for the first time. September 29th, Milwaukee swoons and succumbs at Turner Hall. September 30th, Chicago's inner fire is rekindled at the Metro.
What are your feelings about taking Gayngs out on tour and into the wild?
I think it'll be pretty wild. It'll be fun as hell to see these folks again, to basically try to recreate or reinterpret the album.
I noticed you'll have about ten or half of the members. What can people expect then compared to the album (which had 23 members involved)?
It'll be pretty right on. We've only played it once before and it was with everybody. I think that when trying to get everybody to play, it suffered in band quality-ish. A ten-piece will be easier to wrangle. We'll pull our stuff together a lot more easily and be a little bit tighter, which will be nice. We'll do some covers. Glasser, as I can tell, will be amazing. So that'll be fun.
Getting to Relayted, were there certain people that you wanted on the album?
Yeah. Some of those folks that I hadn't recorded with that I wanted to, and a lot of those people that I had recorded with who I knew they would have a great time doing these things. That's basically how it went down.
Did anyone approach you that you hadn't thought about?
The P.O.S. one was a highlight because I had never heard P.O.S. sing like that before.
Nah, I've heard P.O.S. sing like that. You gotta hang out with him a lot. [laughter] He's great. I wanna do a whole album with LeRon.
So when you went about writing the songs, did you have a preset idea of what the song would sound like or did it develop organically as the pieces fell into place?
I definitely had different zones and things I wanted to touch upon. Zack and Adam of Solid Gold and me spent two or three months getting together at least once every two weeks and fleshed some things out. Writing overall spines or outlines for however long the thing should go. So there was like a direction, for sure, but as I was bringing people in the interpretation would change. Like I remember Phil Cook when he came in and dropped the wail sound on "Ride." It completely made what happened for the rest of it. I was like, "Oh, that's what's going on!" It was generic general ideas, sometimes specific ideas. Not always. A lot of this was discovery as we went along too.
Where there any instances when you had an idea about a song, and somebody had another idea about where to take the song? Were there any times when you had to mend the two directions?
Not really because people would just do things and if it was going where I didn't want it to go, I just wouldn't use it. I had the liberty to have the buck stop near me so I didn't have any problems debating on how these songs should go. They just went where they went. It was kind of more Ouija board-style. I wasn't dictating things for people to do. I knew folks who would have a great time doing things, and they did. It worked out that way.
Relatedly, you have your record label Totally Gross National Product, Building Better Bombs, digitata, and other outfits which reminds me of Michael Gaughan's projects (e.g., Ice Rod, Little Dog on Top of a Big Dog, Brother and Sister).
Michael's absolutely amazing. I love that guy's everything basically. We're putting out a Michael Gaughan album, Little Dog on Top of a Big Dog, and if you haven't heard that stuff-the dude is just incredible. He's thoroughly a fantastic figure. He's fun to have around in every possible way.
Related to that, how can you manage writing distinct songs for one band or one group without accidentally blending genres or influences with another?
I don't think you don't. You definitely do blend those things. I think the more you know where things fit. This sounds like a digitata song or this sounds like a Gayngs song. It makes sense usually where things are supposed to go. I'm not gonna bring a straight-up rap beat to a Gayngs song. I'm not really worried about that or where the genres blend or whatnot. I just hope I can get the ideas that I'm trying to get across. Sometimes it's good to blend genres to get better, more specific ideas across.
My editor had a question. It's no secret that Gayngs made the most sexiest record of the year. She was wondering if you have any experiences about anyone telling you a bit too much information about how much they love the record?
[laughter] Yeah, people are pretty liberal about their sexual adventures in explaining the adventures they make through the album to us. I don't have any specific ones that stand out. But I definitely get that more often than I have ever heard before. It's not like that's a problem or that I'm offended, it's entertaining.
Has anybody asked for names of the children who were conceived while listening to the album?
No, I did see that somebody made a pregnancy test with the Gayngs symbol in the positive zone the day after our show at First Ave. Somebody was awesome for doing that. They Photoshopped a pregnancy test that had the symbol. It was really well done. That was impressive as shit.
Are we gonna see that on merch tables instead of the balloons with Gayngs symbols?
That'd be fantastic. If we can figure out a way to do that, I would love to do that. That's the kind of merch I would love to have. If we can set that up, we'll have that online for you. I want those! [laughter]
We saw that you just released "One More Cry." Are there any hints at what's coming up next for Gayngs?
We've got some covers and stuff. I'm not sure exactly what's next for Gayngs. We're gonna do this tour. I want to do a LeRon album, and we'll see what can happen. Gayngs isn't a real band, so if you have the option to go see [the tour], do that. You won't have another option to see that, that's for sure, that's my guess basically. I don't know what Gayngs as a band is going to do next. I've got a lot of other things; working on Marijuana Death Squads and P.O.S. religiously right now. But when that stuff settles maybe we can see what the whole Gayngs ends up doing. Since we're not an actual band it's not an actual issue.
You're kind of larger than life.
Yeah, it's just more of an event than a band.