'I’m starting to discover now how hanging in there can start to pay off'
In the years since Jason Lytle broke up Grandaddy in 2006, citing fatigue, weariness and bankruptcy as his reasons, he has married, divorced, and moved from his hometown of Modesto to Montana to Portland Oregon and back to Modesto again. With everything seeming to come full circle, then, perhaps it makes sense that he’s also decided to put Grandaddy back together, write them a new album (‘Last Place’ out on 3 March) and take them out on tour.
At the same time, there hasn’t been a more apt time for a Grandaddy comeback: their thematic calling card of technology becoming first sentient then either malevolent or disenchanted feels queasily prophetic in the opening months of 2017: just this week, headlines such as “German parents told to destroy doll that can spy on children” wandered around the internet straightfaced, while increasingly self-aware social media algorithms lob hand grenades into the most delicate political situations.
If the feeling that we’re all now living inside a Grandaddy album has been growing since the Millennium Bug bluffed the world into needless submission right around the time ‘The Sophtware Slump’ was released, it seems now, 17 years later, we are approaching peak Grandaddytopia. Jason Lytle, meanwhile, just keeps on keeping on.
“It’s been a kind of dark couple of years”
If I wouldn’t have had this new record to cling onto – well, it was kind of keeping me afloat. And in that respect I’m on the lucky end of the spectrum, as far as humans go, because I have a pretty good outlet in music, and some other people just can’t articulate it. Their pain just starts festering in them and they end up in therapy, all medicated, and screwed up and suicidal. I really don’t take anything for granted, but with me it’s nice to know that even when life sucks so fucking bad, if I keep hammering away at the music and really get the pain out, something good’s gonna come out of that.
“I have no problem being repetitive and simple, and working within my confines”
In fact, when I’m told that I’m being repetitive and simple, I take that as a compliment. But believe me, I’ve tried to experiment and do different things. I’ve got a hard drive that’s full of bad experiments! Thing is, I often joke about this, but all I’m ever trying to do is re-achieve this feeling that I had when I was eight years old, of listening to music as a little kid with headphones on in the privacy of my own bedroom, just being transported to this other place. That’s all I ever want. I’m not trying to dazzle anyone with my skills: I love playing the piano, and I love playing the guitar, and that’s it. I mean, even as a runner – I like to run – it’s not about speed for me. It’s just about how you’re feeling while you’re running, and that’s where I’m at with music. It doesn’t have to be flashy or virtuoso, and I have no problem with being lowest common denominator – that Blur song, the woo-hoo one, is one of the best songs ever made on this planet! And I don’t mind being conked over the head by a good melody from time to time!
“I like when I hear something pure, something that makes me think, ‘oh he was having fun there!'”
If I nailed the moment, that’s the thing. What’s a bummer for me is if I’m listening and I think, “ah you came close on that one but you didn’t quite nail it.” Of course you’re only going to be getting bullseye every so often – it’s unrealistic to assume that authenticity and purity is always going to be intact – but as long as you’re having fun in the process of attempting to do so, it’s okay. I guess the problem is that it’s difficult to remember to have fun sometimes, especially if you’re not having fun!