Jason Lytle on the Future of Grandaddy and His New Solo Record ‘Dept. of Disappearance’

Photo courtesy of Anti- Records.

Earlier this year, defunct space-rock outfit Grandaddy announced that they’d reform for a series of festival dates this summer. Of all the recent band reunions, this felt pretty surprising. When the band disbanded in 2006, frontman Jason Lytle made it clear that they were kaput, and he seemed serious about it — so serious, he up and moved to Montana and, really, when you go that route, you’re telling everyone you are done. But the beloved band returns next week, on the heels of Lytle’s recent announcement of his second proper solo effort, Dept. of Disappearance. Hive caught up with Lytle earlier today as he was driving from Montana to California to discuss the Grandaddy comeback, future recording plans and the origins of Dept. of Disappearance.

When you announced that Grandaddy was done, it really felt final. What was the impetus for getting back together for these shows?

It was a little about there having been enough space, enough time. I haven’t really rehearsed this question [Laughs.] All I know is that it needed to stop when it stopped and there’s a whole set of reasons as to why that came about. It was never really intention of restarting it again. I don’t really feel like it’s restarting right now but around sometime last year, we were working on this reissue, anniversary of The Sophtware Slump. It was the first time a few of us, specifically Jim Fairchild and myself, had been chatting. The truth is more him was saying, “If there’s ever an opportunity to play some shows arises, blah blah blah.” And I was like “Oh, I don’t know if I’m ready to go there.” Only because, I’ve actually been enjoying myself flying solo. All that stuff of being responsible for all these other people…not having that anymore has been really nice. After him mentioning it, at times, I started entertaining the idea. After the reissue, there was a little bit of interest started stirring up. Outside Lands – it was those guys that sparked the whole “this could be a reality” type of thing. They made a really nice offer to play this festival in San Francisco. Because it was so easy: rehearsing in Modesto … I don’t consider any of this easy, but if there was going to be a scenario, this would be the easiest: me going to Modesto, rehearsing with the guys for a couple of weeks, and then we’d drive over to San Francisco, play this festival, make a bunch of money, people would be stoked and we’d have a good time and then say, “Alright, that was fun.” But what happened was, we got the offer from Outside Lands, said yes, and soon as we said yes, all these other offers started pouring in. Thankfully, they were really good offers so we could piece together this little chunk of shows. Next thing you know, we have this month-long string of shows. It’s still a bit surreal to me, to tell you the truth. It wasn’t until we got done with the first set of rehearsals, that I was like, “Thank god I’m not driving back to Montana going, ’What the fuck have I gotten myself into here.’” It’s actually really fun and it sounded really good. At this point, I’m really excited about it.

“I’ve actually amassed enough stuff …I’ve been fantasizing about the idea of making another Grandaddy record. Guilty pleasure, kitchen-sink stuff.”

Are you guys exploring the whole catalog or just certain aspects of it?

I created a master list and category one was “rockers/hits.” Little tongue-in-cheek there, but whatever. The next category was “favorites.” The last one was “others.” “Others” was the stuff that had maybe been a bit oddball but was fun for us to play on stage, covers and possibly a few things that we never did play before.

Were there songs that you all revisited that you thought were particular gems? Or ones you were like, “Wow, what were we thinking on that?” Any musical regrets?

Not really. I would make these records that were full of these songs, that at the time when I was working on them, I had no idea how we were going to pull them off. So I got that out of the way back then because the record would be done, we’d be listening to it, and everybody would be excited about the songs, but I would think about how to recreate it live. One of the cool things, though, about this time … we were notorious for having gear breakdown on stage, pretty regularly. Some shows would be magical and everything would work, but some would be fucking disasters and it would look like a pawn shop on stage.

Which is exactly the image you want as a professional, working musician.

[Laughs.] If I had a dollar for all the time the roadies at the big venues are hauling our stuff on stage and shaking their heads … I’ve been able to modernize things where, going into this, one of my biggest concerns was how we were going to modernize this, equipment-wise and not make it such a nightmare in terms of gear. I spent a couple of months doing nothing but that. I got to go back to the master tapes and find some of the original sounds and recreate them or use the same sounds themselves and reshape them, make them bigger, clearer, whatever. In a way, were going to sound better and more album-like on this little tour than we would’ve sounded back in the day.

Working through some so-called “kinks.”

[Laughs.] Yeah, in the end, that’s all we were doing. Never, ever, ever had it quite dialed.

Stream some vintage Grandaddy:

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