John Olexovitch, former singer and guitarist for the Lindsay, now just happy to be one of four
Usually musicians relocate to Austin, Texas, with a goal of taking a step towards a full-time career in the field. But John Olexovitch, formerly of the Lindsay and Psandwich, set aside his guitar for the better part of four years after moving to the Texas capitol in 2012.
“I didn't do anything [with music] for a long time,” said Olexovitch. “I didn't play guitar for years. I didn't write songs for a long time. I really wasn't part of anything going on musically there.”
Beginning two years ago, however, Olexovitch started recording rough home demos under the name Wild Lemons, posting a 13-track, eponymous album to Bandcamp in March 2016. In the process, during visits to Ohio, Olexovitch met and started collaborating with Columbus residents Jah Nada (Bloody Show) and Reggie Purdue, both of whom contributed to Wild Lemons.
“Then I was like, ‘Well, I want to go back [to Columbus] now because I've got people I want to play with,'” said Olexovitch, who returned to Ohio with his family in the spring of last year, marking the birth of Wild Lemons as a full-on collaborative project. (Gary B completes the current, pseudonym-heavy lineup.)
Coming into the band, Olexovitch knew he wanted to open up the creative process, moving away from the guarded approach he took in the earliest days of the Lindsay, when he was more precious about song creation.
“When you write songs and bring them to people you almost want to be really guarded in terms of what they do with it, and you want to call the shots because in your mind it's done,” said Olexovitch, who will join his bandmates for a tape release show at Cafe Bourbon St. on Friday, Feb. 16 (Son of Dribble and Ohio Bell will also be releasing new cassettes at the same concert.) “I got to a point where I felt like I didn't want to push my ideas on people as much anymore and I had to learn how to let go.”
Fittingly, the resulting recording, First, sounds like four distinct personalities coming together to forge a new identity, jumping from harsh, pulsating instrumentals (“Midnite Ryde”) to woozy, Velvet Underground-indebted jams (“Don't Do Me Any Favors”) to melodic, scruffy guitar cuts such as “Paranoid City,” a relatively optimistic tune Olexovitch penned for his wife.
“When you're with somebody for a long period of time you can start to take them for granted, and sometimes you just want to say, ‘Hey, I still appreciate you. It's still good being with you,'” he said. “It's the toughest song to write, especially one that's not cloying or treacly or insincere. To write a truly happy song is really difficult. I don't know if that one's happy, but I think it's the closest I've ever come.”
With the Lindsay, Olexovitch frequently fielded Pixies, Pavement and Sonic Youth comparisons — “I certainly understand it, and I think when I was younger I took pleasure in trying to get as close to the people I considered my influences as possible: ‘Oh, that sounds just like Sonic Youth and I wrote it!'” he said — but he's thrilled at the possibilities that could develop as Wild Lemons continues to push him from this established comfort zone.
“[The music] sounds less like me, and I'm happy with that,” said Olexovitch, noting the musicians might swap instruments and roles on future recordings. “I'm the one who sings in this band by default, but it may not always be that way. I like the idea of not having to be a frontman and not having to bring material for them to learn. I like the idea of being one of four.”