As The Olms, Pete Yorn and J.D. King Play It Loose

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The Olms’ self-titled debut backs bright melodies with unbreakable hooks. A solo artist in his own right, Pete Yorn spoke with CMT Edge about collaborating with singer-songwriter J.D. King, their energetic new collection and the duo’s curious band name.

“We were like, ‘Should it be like Waylon & Willie, Yorn & King or King & Yorn or J.D. & Pete?’” Yorn says. “At some point, someone threw a couple of band names out, and one was the Olms. I was like, ‘I like the ring of that.’”

CMT Edge: What’s an olm?

Yorn: I read that an olm is a blind amphibian that lives in caves exclusively in Eastern Europe. They live their entire lives in complete darkness and apparently they live close to 100 years. In the middle ages, people thought they were baby dragons. As a joke, I call my little nieces baby dragons, so that sealed the deal.

How did the new album take shape?

You know, it started off as a loose thing between friends. J.D. was building a studio up at his house and I was up there one day and I don’t remember who said it: “Why don’t we try to write a song together?” We did. It came easy for us. We wrote a song called “Twice as Nice” in maybe 25 minutes, and we tracked it, and by the end of the day, we had a song. A week or two later, we were like, “You want to hook up again?”

So, I went back up and wrote another song. We kept on that path for a few more months, and before we knew it, we had a whole slew of tunes. We just love it. We’re happy to play these songs live, and it’s really fun for me because I’m usually a pretty solitary writer. To have a partner for this project is cool.

Tell the story behind writing “On the Line.”

I like the imagery in the song. I always picture some strange, Vincent Price-type character who lives by himself in a weird old mansion with a lot of red velvet around and ruffled shirt sleeves, and he’s hoping to entertain a guest and have some experiences with that person. It’s kind of whimsical, a fun jump-off for the record.

How did “A Bottle of Wine Etc.” come to you?

Well, we were hanging out, and J.D. was kicking around that (sings) “bottle of wine” thing. We had the acoustic guitars and drums and bass recorded, then I had to leave town for a few weeks. He said he meditated and got in some crazy zone, and he was able to add this cool flavor with the jaw harp and the spooky Western vibe at the beginning. I was just blown away by what he did.

Do you like co-writing better than writing solo?

It’s just different. I’m writing songs all the time myself, but maybe it says something about J.D. King and who he is. I enjoy writing with him, and right now I’m into that process, but I know that I’ll continue writing by myself, as well.

You’ve said you’re already into writing another album together.

Yeah, we’re pretty far into it. When I get inspired I have to capture it while I can, when inspiration appears. To have a partner for this project is cool, a different thing I get to experience creatively. J.D.’s a good guy and a good friend.

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