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12 Rods (also known by the stylistic variant 12RODS) was an indie rock band formed in Oxford, Ohio, United States in 1992. The group went on to relocate to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1995 until its end in 2004.
An early incarnation of the group that would become 12 Rods was formed in Oxford, Ohio, in May 1992, initiated by Talawanda High School student Ryan Olcott. Friends and fellow students Christopher McGuire, Matt Flynn, and Daniel Perlin were included as members of the band. At this time the group was known as Ryan'z Bihg Hed, a name coined by Flynn in reference to Olcott's purported behavior during their rehearsals. The band prepared numerous songs for a performance early in the summer of 1992 at a local high school graduation party named "Field Fest 3". A cassette recording of this performance, titled Helikopter Hundrid Dolurz, became their first release before the group disbanded until July 1992 when Olcott was invited to sing in for a new group formed by McGuire, Flynn, and Daniel Burton-Rose at a performance at the end of the summer. Olcott accepted and the roster went on to name themselves "12RODS", a title discovered by Flynn in a passage from a children's Bible.
The group independently-released Bliss in 1993, their first album under the name 12 Rods, which was recorded in Minneapolis while the members were still living in Oxford. In 1996, one year after fully relocating to Minneapolis, the band released the EP gay?, which went on to bring the group much-needed publicity following a review by an early Pitchfork Media where it received one of the few 10.0 ratings given in the publication's history. Former Pitchfork columnist Jason Josephes spoke of gay? favorably in his "Three Blocks from Groove Street" column after he and Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber saw 12 Rods' first Minneapolis concert and bought the EP.
In 1996, 12 Rods became the first American act to sign to the newly founded V2 Records, then a part of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, where gay? was reissued, making it the group's first major label release. The band's next album Split Personalities was released in 1998 and was named in Pitchfork Media's first list of the best albums of the 1990s (although it was absent in the second version). Minneapolis musician Bill Shaw joined the group around this time, serving as its bassist until the end of the band's career.
12 Rods released its next album, the Todd Rundgren-produced Separation Anxieties, in 2000. The band was dropped by V2 Records following the album's release, which was a disappointment both critically and commercially. Local Minneapolis drummer Dave King went on to be the group's drummer for most of the remainder of its career after McGuire's departure from the band following recording sessions for Separation Anxieties.
Jake Hansen joined the band in the summer of 2002 as an additional guitarist, and in 2003 George Marich took on drumming duties due to King's touring conflicts with The Bad Plus. The group recorded and released one more album, 2002's self-released Lost Time, then broke up in 2004.
On September 7, 2011, it was announced on the website for Justin Vernon's record label Chigliak Records that 12 Rods have an album awaiting release in the label's "first year of vinyl releases", which began on May 22, 2012, with Amateur Love's It's All Aquatic, produced by Ev Olcott.
After 12 Rods
Following the band's break-up, Ryan went on to perform solo as Foodteam, with a band as Mystery Palace, and is a prominent record producer in Minneapolis. Ev went on to play in Halloween, Alaska and The Few Nice Words, and co-founded audio software company Audiofile Engineering. McGuire went on to play with Kid Dakota, John Vanderslice, The Mountain Goats, Quruli and has been involved in giving drumming lessons. Bill Shaw re-formed Post Mortem Grinner and also plays in The Few Nice Words and Halloween, Alaska. Dave King plays actively with Happy Apple, The Bad Plus, Halloween, Alaska, and Dave King Trucking Company.
- Helikopter Hundrid Dolurz (1992 - as Ryan'z Bihg Hed)
- Bliss (1993)
- A Very Special Christmas (1995)
- Gay? EP (1996)
- Split Personalities (1998)
- Separation Anxieties (2000)
- Lost Time (2002)
- Gay? remixed and remastered (2003)
- Unreleased Vol. 1-6 (2004)
- Last Show: First Avenue (2004)
- Ryan Olcott – vocals, guitar, synths
- Ev (Olcott) – synths, guitar, vocals
- Christopher McGuire – drums (1992–1999)
- Matt Flynn – bass (1992–1994)
- Matthew Foust – bass (1994–1996)
- William Shaw – bass (1998–2004)
- David King – drums (2000–2004)
- Jake Hansen – guitar (2002–2004)
- George Marich - drums (2003-2004)