John Olexovitch and Bree Frick form a new Columbus band that is better than 99% of new Columbus bands

Over the winter, John Olexovitch and Bree Frick were going stir crazy, so they turned their Clintonville basement into a home studio. But instead of forming a traditional band with a set lineup, they decided to invite some friends over in the evenings to play music together with no concrete agenda. 

“We thought, ‘What could we do if we didn’t give ourselves any limits?’” said Olexovitch, seated next to Frick in a recent interview Downtown. 

“We’d go in the basement in the dead of winter and make noise, and John would just hit record. We’d get up and switch instruments and hit record again,” Frick said. “We ended up with a pile of raw material, and then John started whittling it down into chunks, and then they became songs.”

Those songs eventually became debut album Sad Bangers (Superdreamer Records), a 14-track collection from a new project the pair dubbed Linda Trip, which will play a release show at Ace of Cups on Friday, Aug. 2, alongside HYTWR and Ron House. The band’s lineup varies, but this performance will feature Olexovitch on vocals and guitar, Frick on synth, Sam Brown (Operators, New Bomb Turks) on drums, Val Glenn (Time and Temperature) on bass and Klara Morgan on guitar (Rich Johnston of Psychedelic Horseshit also frequently sits behind the kit).

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Olexovitch, a veteran of bands like the Lindsay and Psandwich, moved back to Columbus in 2017 after a five-year stint in Austin, Texas, and about a year ago, after Olexovitch’s previous band Wild Lemons wound down, he and Frick started hatching plans to make music together.

The different mindset for Linda Trip, though, came from the pair’s experience working with some of the city’s underground legends. “[Frick] had been playing with Tommy Jay and Mike Rep and those people, and they introduced me into that,” Olexovitch said. “I started playing with Tommy Jay, and I saw how it was kind of a family.”

“They were really influential for the record, as far as how we had people over and hung out and made it an enjoyable experience,” Frick said. “I’ve never enjoyed recording until this band. ... I look forward more to actually recording and collaborating than playing out. It’s fun to make the sausage.”

In Wild Lemons, Olexovitch had been reluctant to be a frontman. But playing with Tommy Jay changed all that. “I saw that somebody like Tommy, who’s a shy and caring and considerate person, can be a band leader. I watched how he would direct people to play,” Olexovitch said. “I would play whatever Tommy wants me to play because I respect him and I want to help him realize his vision. Once I saw that, I was like, ‘There’s all these people who want to help me realize mine, and then when it’s their turn, I’ll help them.’”

After recording the chunk of raw material, Olexovitch let everything sit for a couple of months, then began listening to the sessions at work. “I started to get ideas for vocals and melodies, like, ‘I think I hear an acoustic guitar on this,’ or, ‘I really want Rich [Johnston] to play on this,’” Olexovitch said.

Along the way, Olexovitch, Frick and the ever-changing collective of Linda Trip embraced their deep love of pop music. “I started to realize all my favorite things were kind of pop, like Cate Le Bon, Cass McCombs, Ariel Pink,” Olexovitch said. 

Sad Bangers is one of the best albums to come out of Columbus this year, and, unsurprisingly given the way it was created, the record is incredibly varied. Experimental krautrock jams like “Zumers” and “Outro” somehow fit perfectly alongside expertly composed pop tunes like “Little Jerkoff” and the Stone Roses-evoking “Wild Lemonade (UK 12”),” while leadoff track “Say it Again (I Couldn’t Hear You)” recalls the CDR era of Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horseshit.

“Some people are into improvisation, and some people are into really structured songs,” Olexovitch said. “I like both of those things. … If you don’t like one song, then you’ll maybe like another one.”

Olexovitch credits Frick for allowing both ends of the sonic spectrum to occur naturally. “She creates an environment where creativity can happen. It’s so amazing,” Olexovitch said, turning to Frick. “I think if you have a quality about you, it’s very nonjudgmental. You provide a space where I can sing something and not be like, ‘Sorry, sorry.’”

Now that Sad Bangers is in the world (on cassette and streaming services), Olexovitch and Frick are anxious to descend into the basement once again. 

“I never wanted to be the Beatles. I wanted to be more like Big Star, where no one would know who we were, and then 10 years from now some 18-year-old is gonna find a Lindsay record in the dollar bin and be like, ‘Oh!’” Olexovitch said. “Ron [House] and Tommy [Jay], they write amazing songs, but they also have decades’ worth of material. That’s what they’re leaving. What am I leaving? I have two really great albums with the Lindsay, a record with Psandwich I really like. But I wanna get going with other stuff. I feel like I’ve done this one little pocket of things, and I wanna fill out all the other areas that I never got around to.”