Jason Lytle

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Jason Lytle


“It’s obviously very complicated but one of the ingredients in the complication was just me being a realist. I think it’s just always nice if you can see your success [that] sort of parallels the money that it takes to continue doing what you’re doing. Any businessmen out there can probably relate.

“There was a lot of stuff that contributed to the overall ‘let’s just bow out gracefully here’ thing. And I’m fine with that. It’s just what needed to happen and I can totally look at it conversely and just say that what we pulled off was incredible and way much more than I would’ve ever dreamt of.”

Their achievements were numerous: critically acclaimed albums, sell-out tours, and an organic rise in popularity that never saw them sacrifice their integrity. However, in 2006, after a career spanning a decade and a half, Grandaddy stopped operating as a band. The ‘farewell’ release Just Like The Fambly Cat was never toured and Lytle took a much-needed step back to deal with his creative outlook.

“The most important thing that took place [happened] towards the end of Grandaddy. I had successfully fallen out of love with music. And that to me was the biggest thing. I hadn’t entirely, but I was on the road to just completely losing interest to anything connected to it. And to me, that was a crime. The unfathomable was happening and I think in the name of salvaging it and having to rebuild it and fall back in love with it, I had to go through this little period. And I think that took about four or five years, and then once I started coming around with other parts of my life, it all started falling into place.”

Lytle has maintained a relatively low profile in the years since the split, but he has quietly re-entered the world of music creation, both as a solo artist and with his band Admiral Radley. He released one solo album in 2009 (Yours Truly, The Commuter), and is on the cusp of releasing his next.

“I just finished mixing a new record. Literally right when I get back from Australia the wheels are going to be in motion of getting that all promoted and getting all the artwork done and getting it out in the middle of the year, I believe. It’s been almost two years in the making and I just spent a week and a half in Portland. As a matter of fact I’m on my way home from that trip right now,” he says.

Home, for Lytle, is another key contributor in rekindling his devotion to his art.

“I live in an area now that makes me not want to kill myself,” he laughs, referring to departing Grandaddy’s Californian hometown of Modesto (“an unhealthy, downer place to live”) and lodging himself in natural and mountainous Montana.

“I just didn’t know what it took, to keep me functioning, to keep making good work. I kind of lost it. I didn’t know how to figure it out. And so I’ve kind of gotten into a program, I’ve gotten into a routine now. Where I live is in very close proximity to a lot of outdoors, a kind of wild area in mountains and so pretty much I work around music.”

Despite this absorption in nature, much of Lytle’s songwriting focuses on mankind and his relationship with technology.

“I have my own studio and I’m steeped in very sophisticated, complicated equipment but I find my own relationship. I’m able to straddle those two lines [between nature and technology]. I can be sifting through forms and just doing really complicated editing on the computer and checking frequency responses of microphones and in 35 minutes I can be up on some ridgeline being attacked by a bear and dying of hypothermia,” he laughs.

Lytle returns to Australia this month for the first time in eight years. Previously outspoken about his distaste from touring, his new perspective and approach to producing music seems to have better prepared him for time on the road.

“This is really going to be a redeeming trip for me because basically I’m playing maybe eight shows in the whole tour, but I’m actually going to be there for about two and a half weeks. So I’m going to have a lot of time for travelling. We’re just travelling in a car, me and a buddy of mine. And I’m bringing camping gear in addition to music gear. We should be doing some sightseeing and just as much playing shows as relaxation, taking in the atmosphere.

“I’ll do small tours or I’ll do these trips but then I retreat and I recharge my batteries and I just make sure that I don’t beat myself down. I don’t wear myself out like I used to.”