End of the Road, End of the Rods

They got hassled by the FBI. Todd Rundgren drank all their Foster's. And now they're breaking up. After teetering on the edge of big-time success for over a decade, 12 Rods remember what it's like to be a popular Twin Cities band--and what it's like to pa

Hansen: We were talking to someone who was booking us a potentially big fall tour.

George Marich: That's why I was hired initially.

Hansen: Dave was busy with [another band] the Bad Plus, so George stepped in as the drummer. And I was taking over on Ev's parts and playing my old parts.

Are we famous yet? The beleaguered gentlemen of 12 Rods (L to R): George Marich, Jake Hansen, Ryan Olcott, Ev Olcott, and Bill Shaw
David Fick
Are we famous yet? The beleaguered gentlemen of 12 Rods (L to R): George Marich, Jake Hansen, Ryan Olcott, Ev Olcott, and Bill Shaw

Shaw: We worked our asses off to make it work. And it did work. And then the tour fell through.

Ryan Olcott: The lady booking it even paid for a semester of Jake's college tuition.

CP: So how did George get involved?

Marich: I met Jake when I was playing in a band called Rhombus and we did a show with [Jake's band] Cowboy Curtis. The first time I saw 12 Rods was at the 400 Bar and Ryan Olcott opened the show saying, "What's up, bitches and faggots?" I instantly liked them.

Shaw: Ryan is maybe one of the greatest frontmen in Minneapolis music--but don't give him a microphone in between songs. Turn it off. Unplug it. Kick the soundman an extra $50 to pay attention.

Ryan Olcott: My banter's terrible.

Shaw: The fact that it's terrible is what makes it good because it always creates an awkward moment between the band and the audience.

Ryan Olcott: Awkwardness doesn't sell, apparently. That's one thing we're good at. Since the beginning of time, we were always an awkward band. For a while that was cool, but it faded quickly.

Shaw: When awkward went out, matching suits came back in.

CP: We didn't talk about Lost Time yet.

Ryan Olcott: With Lost Time it was nice being left to our own devices. There was no one breathing down our necks with a release date. We were in the studio slaving out of the pure love of what we were doing.

Hansen: Did you shop it around at all or were you planning a self-release all along?

Ryan Olcott: Honestly, I was so jaded and so disgruntled about the whole industry. Fuck everybody. Fuck everything. I'm just going to do it myself because obviously nobody gets it. To me, it's the best record we've released because it was done under different circumstances.

CP: Let's talk about the show you played at Edina High School a few years ago.

Shaw: We made the best out of the worst possible situation. We did sound check and it seemed like the worst possible thing, like straight out of Spinal Tap. Our dressing room was the prop room for their plays.

Ryan Olcott: There was a big school math competition going on that night, so no one was there. But we wore costumes.

Shaw: I wore the nurse's costume.

Ryan Olcott: I wore a Raiders jacket and this weird hat. Dave was wearing wings.

Shaw: Everybody had a very distinct costume and Ryan was like a collage of bad distinct costumes.

CP: I don't remember what Ev was wearing.

Shaw: He was probably "goth guy." I had a great time, though--just this beautiful auditorium, stadium seating and everything. There were 40 kids there, and they were the weird kids who no one at Edina High School talked to.

CP: I also remember hearing about how you once rearranged a hotel room instead of trashing it.

Ryan Olcott: We were playing with [Detroit pop group] Waxwings in Oxford, my hometown, and they had requested hotels on the Miami University campus. But they had to leave that night or something. We didn't need [the rooms] but we took them anyway. We rearranged the furniture and made it look all Blair Witch, unscrewed the light bulbs and made a weird pyramid, mattresses up on their sides, everything rearranged. The TV was in the shower. We didn't break anything. Well, Bill did.

Shaw: Let me explain. There's this thing I can do, right? Not only can I do a front flip, I can front flip onto a surface that's above ground. Like I could do a flip onto this table and land on my feet.

Marich: Really? Do it now.

Shaw: No. So I had to do it and I landed on the bed and the bed collapsed. Now if I go to Ohio, I'll be placed under arrest and executed.

Ryan Olcott: I guess the hotel staff freaked out because they thought the rearrangement was cultish. They called the FBI. The FBI launched an investigation. Of course, our parents called us and they were like, "Do you know anything about these rooms?" So we confessed to our parents and they said, "Well, you're banished from campus. You can't come to Miami ever again."

Shaw: No, not that! Anything but that!

Ryan Olcott: I kind of had a premonition about it because I used to skateboard on campus all the time and get busted by the security officers. I knew one day I would be full-on banished.

CP: How much time do you think the FBI spent investigating?

Shaw: In Oxford, it could have been weeks. It was probably very high on their priority list.

CP: Ryan, with 12 Rods done, will you work more with [your electro side project] Future Wives?

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