Drummer Justin Olsen moved to San Diego five years ago for the weather.
“I was struggling with issues from slight brain damage. It’s so depressing in Washington in the winter because it’s so gray. Living here really has helped.”
In 2000, Olsen was asleep in the passenger seat when the car his girlfriend was driving flipped over and landed in a ditch near a small town named Las Vegas, New Mexico.
“It was, like, three in the morning. We were doing, like, 80 on the freeway. She fell asleep and the car flipped. We both flew about 150 feet.”
She had a leg broken in four places. Luckily for Olsen, a trucker with some medical training pulled over to help.
“They found me unconscious in a ditch. I had bleeding in my head. He also knew that I had a collapsed lung, so he took a PVC pipe and jammed it in my side and re-inflated my lung.… I started breathing again.”
Olsen was Life Flighted to Albuquerque, where he was in a coma for three days. He went back to Washington to recover. In spite of requests from his family that he refrain from touring, Olsen was back on the road with his band the Tight Bros (including Melvins bassist Jared Warren) within four months.
Although Olsen says he has completely recovered except for short-term memory loss, at the time he went on tour he was not okay.
“I had problems keeping up with conversations. I got really frustrated because I couldn’t communicate. I’d freak out and get really angry. On the road, it was constant fighting and arguing. We made it all the way through the north of the U.S., down the East Coast, and all the way across the South to Arizona and I finally flipped. It got so bad that I had them pull over and drop me off at a Greyhound station so that I could take a bus back to my girlfriend’s in Phoenix. I then flew home from there. The band continued on without me.”
Now Olsen drums in the hard-rock trio OAKS, which just released its first CD, bravo! (“We used Toshi Kasai, who is the same engineer the Melvins used.”) The band appears April 12 at the Zombie Lounge and for their CD-release show June 1 at the Casbah.
– Ken Leighton