Interview

                                                                                                                                                                            (Photo by Ian Rees)
Lisa Sanchez

The first decade of the 2000s was an exciting time for pop-punk. We've seen an influx of new bands toward the latter part of the decade and it feels like the energetic heyday of acts like Green Day, Blink-182, and New Found Glory. The genre has gotten a shiny millennial makeover for the next generation.

Seaway, a five-piece band from Ontario, Canada is riding the pop-punk resurgence, but they stand out from the rest.

I can't tell you how many dime a dozen pop punk bands I've seen in the last five years. They're usually a dreamboat combination of Zach Morris and A.C. Slater from Saved By the Bell, but when you hear their music it's like reading Catcher In the Rye as an adult. No one can get into it unless you're a 13 year old boy.

But Seaway breaks that trend. The band boasts impressive roots, a solid touring career, plus they're from Canada-the land that breeds solid pop punk bands like America breeds colonialism and bald eagle knick knacks. 

Seaway is gearing up to release their sophomore album, Vacation, September 15 on Pure Noise Records. Vacation has the staples of a solid album; catchy, fun, heartfelt, insert every Warped Tour band descriptor here. But, Seaway brings a little more than your average pop-punk album. It doesn't take a trained ear to hear that Seaway are a bit more technical than your average pretty boy Adjective Noun band. Plus, they manage to walk the line of self-effacing emotionalism without feeling like a guilty pleasure. Vacation is a well-crafted album and there's no sense in hiding your Spotify playlist just because Seaway talk about feelings. Feel your feelings, fool.

I got a chance to speak with Seaway lead singer Ryan Locke before the band sets out on tour with Four Year Strong in September. Locke is excited to release Vacation in September and believes it's the band's best album to date. 

​So first things first, you’ve got your third full length album coming out next month. I got a chance to listen to Vacation in preparation for this interview and I’m really digging it. It’s a straight up fun and bouncy pop punk album. 

Locke: We’ve been calling it [Vacation] our ‘make or break record.’ This is our second [album] on Pure Noise Records, it’s our sophomore record there. If it goes well, things will go well and if it doesn’t, who knows? We worked really hard on it-tirelessly, I’d say. We did two weeks of demoing. One week with Derek Hoffman in Toronto and one week with Alan Day from Four Year Strong in Massachusetts. They both worked on Colour Blind with us, so once we got the songs together [for Vacation] we decided to work with people that we’ve worked with before, people we worked well with…This was the most prepared we had ever been. When we were doing Colorblind we had some shit together, but we just jumped in the studio and figured the rest of it there.
 
Did you guys do anything differently writing Vacation as opposed to Colour Blind?

Locke: A lot of Colour Blind was written on the road, on tour, whereas we were home for a good chunk of time writing Vacation. More or less it’s just a different mind set going in. On Colour Blind we were just kind of wide-eyed…whereas on Vacation we’ve been around a bit longer. We’re able to figure out what works best for us and what doesn’t. We were able to hone in on that a bit more.
 
 
So this is like your grown up or grown in album as opposed to your earlier stuff?

Locke:
Yeah, let’s call it “grown in” I don’t know if it’s grown up.
 
I kept coming back to a few songs on the album like “Something Wonderful” and “Scatter My Ashes Along the Coast or Don’t.” They’ve just got hooks that pull me in. What are the album highlights for you? 

Locke: “Something Wonderful” is one of my favorites. It was a very last minute song, which is funny to think about. We had a month in L.A. and we worked through all the demos pretty quickly just because we were very prepared for it. So there was about a week left….and we were more or less done and we could have ended it there. But we figured, “What the hell? We’ve got a week left, we might as well use this time to keep going." So we wrote one more song and that song was “Something Wonderful.” One of the last, on a whim songs, turns out to be one of my favorite songs.
 
Another highlight of the record for me is “Lula” and it, funny enough, started off as a joke. It was pretty late at night and we were in Massachusetts with Alan. Patrick [Carleton] just started playing this riff. It was just one of those things where we were all like, “What the hell are you doing, man? What is that thing?” and he was like, “Yeah, it’s our new song. It’s the new song we’re going to do.” But he just kept playing it over and over. It started as a joke, but it eventually just developed into this really cool, pretty unique, sounding song for the record. It was just one of those songs we wrote in one night from Patrick starting the riff then we were just spit-balling lyrics all night then I think we demoed it the next day. It was super quick and organic the way it came out.    
 
“Apartment” and “London” are also a really catchy songs. I liked how the video for “Apartment” very much tied in with the lyrics for the song. It’s easy to go totally non-sequitur when mixing those two things.

Locke: Yeah the video was a different for us because there was no performing, it was just me and Patrick. We kind of had an idea of doing a video like that for a while, just me and Patrick singing. The way it worked out, we had to do that because Andrew and Adam were away and we had to finish it by a certain time and they wouldn’t be back until after that. So it was like, we’d been talking about it and now we actually have to do it so let’s see how it goes. I think it’s pretty cool for a first video for the record. We’ve got some bigger stuff planned for the next few singles.
 
Y’all have had a busy year so far. You were on the “No Pads No Helmets, Just Balls tour” with Simple Plan and now you’re set to head out with Four Year Strong in September and I just saw today that you’ll be touring with Silverstein in November. What’s your experience been like touring with these veteran acts? 

Locke: It’s a cool thing touring with veteran acts. It’s very different than touring with younger bands because when then it just feels like you’re just hanging out. Everyone’s the same age, you’re just kickin’ it. But when you’re touring with these older bands, you learn a lot without trying…Touring with bands that have doing it for 10 plus years you learn a lot about it. I’m really looking forward to all those tours.
 
Well, they haven’t last 15 to 20 years without being good at what they do so you can always learn something. Have you gotten to tour with some bands that influence you?

Locke: Touring with Simple Plan was pretty crazy. They’re a huge Canadian band. They do really well world-wide, but their massive in Canada. So we grew up listening to them, watching their videos on TV, so that was really cool for us.  Four Years Strong too…we were definitely huge fans of theirs when we were younger.
 
It seems like successful pop punk bands are one of the few genres that have extensive careers. Do you hope to be touring and playing with Seaway 15 years from now like your tourmates have been? 

Locke: I think that would be awesome, to build a career like they did-I’d definitely be open to it. I don’t know if I’d want to be opening for bands for the next 15 years, but if we can build a career, that’ the main goal.
 
What do you think makes pop punk fans so loyal to the genre? What appeals to them?  

Locke: I think that every band has their own appeal so to say that it’s the entire genre may be a bit of a stretch. There are kids that love one band, but probably hate our band or they love our band and don’t like another band. Different sounds within the genre help it a lot. I think if everyone sounded the same it wouldn’t be that way. It would get pretty tired pretty quick. There’s different bands doing different things that makes it easier to spread across different platforms and touch on different genres.
 
Since about 2010, I think we’ve seen a huge resurgence of energetic, pop-punk bands, and Seaway fits into that timeline. What do you think has made the band stand out from all the rest? 

Locke: We’ve always made a conscious effort of not following another band just because they’re getting bigger exposure. We’ve always been conscious of putting our blinders on…making sure we know what we want out of the band and pushing forward. I think that comes from our influence. We know what we want to sound like. We know what we want to do and we never let anything else going on in the genre effect that. The more time passes the more evident that becomes for the fans. Hopefully this is the record [Vacation] where that becomes really evident because we definitely tried some new things to set ourselves apart from the genre.
 
I think that has to be the trick because it seems like if you get caught in the middle, which a lot of bands do, they just try and ride it out until they can make money. That’s usually the safe route, but it’s also very boring. It sounds like you guys are doing something interesting and are at least evocative of something energetic and unique, so I think you’ve got that going for you. 

Locke: We’re still trying to be energetic, we’re a very upbeat band, but we’re not following any other band’s path.  
 
I am curious, you and your members have known each other since you were school age, but I read you formed as a side project of a hardcore band. How did that transition happen?

Locke: We played in a hardcore band, we played in a pop-rock band, it was all pretty much the same guys in the band…but we tried a lot of different stuff because we’d been playing together for so long. We just kind of decided, “Hey, let’s try this out” and I was going to try singing-I played drums at the time. We tried it, and it was just the one that kind of took off.
 
In about a month you guys will play Cleveland with Four Year Strong. First question: Have you played the Agora before? Second question: Do you know how bonkers Clevelanders are for Four Years Strong and are you ready?
Yeah, we played the small room with Knuckle Puck a couple years ago now and it was pretty wild. I’m glad to hear Cleveland goes bonkers for Four Year Strong because hopefully that will bode well for us.
 
The last time I saw Four Year Strong, everyone rushed the stage so you couldn’t see the band members. It’s a good time. 
 
Any pro tips for what we can expect from Seaway’s live performance?

Locke: It’s fun, upbeat. We’re not going to be doing any preaching or anything. A lot of dancing, bring your dancing shoes.
 
In between your continuous touring, when will fans get a Seaway headline tour?

Locke: 2018. We’re in the midst of planning it all out now. It will be early 2018. We’ll have Christmas off then we’re back on tour again.
 
Do you have anything to say that will wrangle people into listening to Seaway?

Locke: Listen to our new record, I think it’s the best record we’ve ever written. I think it’s the best record that will come out in 2017. If you like having fun, if you like lighthearted stuff, definitely check out our record.

Tickets for Seaway's September 13 show with Four Year Strong are still available. Come for the drinks, stay for the dancing.