Ways Away is a new punk/post-hardcore band with some very familiar faces. Vocalist/guitarist Jesse Barnett (of Stick To Your Guns, Trade Wind, Wish You Were Here) writes the lyrics and guitarist Sergie Loobkoff (of Samiam, Knapsack, Racquet Club) writes the music, and the rhythm section is held down by the extremely prolific drummer Jared Shavelson (of The Hope Conspiracy, Boysetsfire, Paint It Black, The Bronx, and more) and bassist Ian Smith (who was also in the now-defunct Racquet Club with Sergie). Sergie and Jesse recently spoke to Punk News about how the band came about. Sergie said:

So I’m backstage at a Terror show talking to Scott (Vogel), and he introduced me to Jared (Caraman) from Trapped Under Ice. So we’re talking about music and playing shows, and he had let me know that he actually had a soft spot for Samiam. He was really nice and we hung out the rest of the show, and at the end he said if I wanted to jam with him that he lives out here now. I told him that was funny because I was talking about jamming with Jared (Shavelson.) He looked at me and said he had been wanting to do the same with him for a while as well. So while I’m all about it, I’m thinking this isn't really going anywhere unless we find a singer. Finding a singer is fine, but finding a singer worthwhile to start a project with in my opinion is one of the hardest things to do. I’ve been able to do it a few times before, where I found what I felt are great singers, but I wasn’t sure if I would be part of something where we could do it again. Jesse was on tour in Australia, and they e-mailed him. I think he was honestly apprehensive since he was involved in a bunch of other projects and bands, but he liked both of the Jareds and I guess had a soft spot for Samiam as well. So we sent him some mp3s to check out. After listening to our jams, he took an acoustic guitar and went into a shower and sang a part of one of our songs. I flipped out because originally I wasn't sure if he’d be into and work with Samiam style songs. However, it turned out so well that we took the jam he recorded on his iPhone and incorporated it into (that song.) Our producer made that happen.

And Jesse added:

Yeah Jared was the one who reached out to me to say “let’s do this!” It was a definite plus that it was also with Sergie, as I like Samiam and I’m a huge fan of Knapsack. Jared (Shavelson) essentially guided me into this project and I was friends with him for a few years since I had done a bunch of shows with BoySetsFire for the past few years. I had told myself no more projects but made an exception for this one. I was excited to get into the room with three other dudes who are from bands I love, and then Jared (Caraman) had to do his thing but we have Ian, and he kicks ass. Jared and I have been able to text and remain cool after that.

The band released their self-titled debut album this past Friday (7/17) on Jesse's Other People Records), and as Sergie put it to No Echo, "It was all songs that would have been Samiam songs if that band made a record in the last 9 years. I'm not a diverse musician or a very good guitar player so everything I 'write' sounds pretty much the same. If one was to go on spotify and listen to my bands (Samiam, Knapsack, Solea, Racquet Club, Ways Away) 99 of 100 random people would say, 'what is this shit? sounds like the same song over and over again with different singers.'"

I'd argue Sergie is selling himself short, but these songs are indeed cut from the Samiam/Knapsack cloth and it's cool to hear the very versatile Jesse Barnett singing in this style. If you dig Sergie's classic bands or other stuff in this realm (Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker, etc), you should definitely check this out too. Plus, the album includes a very cool cover of Beach House's "Gila." Ways Away take the beloved dream pop song and successfully turn it into something that sounds like Samiam, all while remaining totally recognizable as Beach House's "Gila." Check out that cover and the rest of the album (and some music videos) below.

Also, before the pandemic escalated, Ways Away managed to get a few shows in, and full-set video of their very first show (2/7/20 at Programme in Fullerton, CA) can be watched below too.

Speaking of Jared Shavelson, he took part in this week's Two Minutes to Late Night quarantine cover.

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