The Grandaddy album Sophtware Slump masterfully explored the relationship between technology and alienation, and it is only fitting that it came out in the year of Y2K. This album, one of the best of the 2000s decade, in my humble opinion, was the work of Jason Lytle, a sonic architect who creates lush, vintage synthesizer-driven futuristic pop music.
Grandaddy released three other stellar studio albums and various EPs in addition to Sophtware Slump, and broke up in the mid-2000s, although they recently reunited for a short tour. Lytle (the first syllable is pronounced “light” not “lit”) went on to release the Grandaddy-esque solo album Yours Truly, The Commuter in 2009, and just released his second solo album called Dept. of Disappearance.
Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at your upcoming show in Santa Barbara?
Jason Lytle: God, you know, I’m still at the point ... I’ve got to be truthful with you here, I usually have a lot of concerns and worries and anxiety before I start a little tour like this, because I’m not always sure what the hell I’m going to do. There’s always a degree of winging it once I get onstage, which can be exciting, but it’s a little nerve-wracking because I’m sort of one of those people that likes to know what my plan is and not have too many loose ends. I don’t know why I do this to myself. I’m going into it halfway planned, and I will definitely be winging the rest of it.
The tour itself, I’m really looking forward to. It’s a good length for me. I like them short like that. And I don’t get the chance to hit that neck of the woods in California that often, so that’s cool.
JM: Will there be a band with you, or is it going to be you solo?
JL: Well, I don’t have a band, but I have a good friend of mine who I’ve had play with me a number of times for stuff like this. He’s actually flying into town today, we’re rehearsing three or four days, and we’re going to work something out to where the scaled-down renditions of the songs are still pretty interesting, and there’s just enough weird stuff going on. Still comprehensive versions of the songs, but in no way at all attempting to fully emulate the way albums sound.
JM: Speaking of albums, your new album is just about to come out. Can you tell me a little bit about that album?
JL: You know, after Grandaddy I took a little time off, and then I came out with my first solo record [Yours Truly, The Commuter], and that went well. A few years after staying busy with various projects I finally finished this new one. I don’t know, it’s a lot bigger. I mean, it’s so much more involved soundwise, and has these epic moments where I really had to not worry about ever attempting to tackle any of the songs live [laughs], because I don’t really ever want to have a band again, and I really love recording and being in the studio. So it’s more of a guilty pleasure listen. Yeah.
JM: How has your approach to songwriting, recording and production evolved over the years?
JL: Gosh. I really feel like I’m still just kind of doing the same thing. It all stems from just trying to create these goosebump-type moments, you know? I remember listening to music when I was a kid, 8 years old, and just being so blown away by sound and songs and production, all at once. And wanting to do that myself at some point.
I think it wasn’t until my early 20s when I really said, OK, I’m going to figure out how to do this. I’m going to try to figure out how to do this. So the quest started then, and that’s all I’m doing. I’ve just continued to sort of recapture that moment that I had, getting really excited about music when I was around 8 years old. Aside from some technological advancements, and getting a little bit better at playing instruments, I think I’m still doing the same thing really.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.