New Sounds from the Northway
Written by Joshua Reedy on September 3, 2020
The Northway are an up-and-coming punk/progressive rock band with an infectious energy and catchy songwriting skills. The band has been working on a second LP and wrote in to discuss their progress and other aspects of band life.
RRX: How are you guys doing as a band? I saw you play last at a local battle of the bands. What are your thoughts about shows mostly being canned? How are you coping with this?
ZL: I feel we’re doing as well as can. We are working toward getting the record out and working out the logistics of everything. Not having shows has allowed me at least to reflect on taking our lifestyles for granted sometimes, and thinking about what it really takes to make those aspects of the industry thrive.
NM: Covid has been hard on everyone, and we’re doing the best we can. I really miss playing out and practicing with the guys.
RRX: I’ve been following you guys and see that you’ve been working on a second LP with plans to release it semi-soon (correct me if wrong). What do you guys want to say about your upcoming release?
ZL: It’s coming soon, and it’s our best album so far I’d say. It’s a bit out there, but it flows well I think.
JL: I’m just glad to finally be able to share this with people. We’ve spent a lot of time on it, since last June I think? Everybody’s had a lot going on and it’s kind of dragged things out a little bit, but it worked out in the end and things really came together nicely.
NM: LP2 is coming soon, for real. We’ve been saying that for 13 months but this time it’s personal…or serious…or whatever. It’s coming.
RRX: Your Instagram presence is highly entertaining in my humble opinion. What can you tell us about the challenges of maintaining a social media page for a music project?
ZL: I don’t like doing social media stuff too much, because it seems as though there’s no right way to really do it. Sure there are things you can do to help, but it seems as though a lot of it is luck. It’s cool to be able to connect with people who enjoy our stuff though, and I think as long as you’re responsible with your platform you’re on the right track.
JL: Trying to play the algorithm at the core of all social media promotion, and I’ve been working on improving that recently, but I do think people really dig the memes. It also gives me and Nick an excuse to be complete buffoons.
NM: Keeping up with social media and staying in the good graces of the algorithm is a constant struggle. We just post memes and hope we don’t get Zuckerburg’ed.
RRX: Listening to your music I hear an interesting blend of what seems like punk/pop-punk mixed with math-rock elements. I particularly enjoy the way the drums are mixed and how bombastic your tracks are, would you say these interpretations are accurate? What are some of your favorite inspirations?
ZL: For the new album we kinda dropped some of the math-rock stuff, and put more of an emphasis on production and songwriting. I’m not even sure it was a conscious choice. Some of my inspirations are some of the newer progressive metal stuff, and some emo music as well.
JL: I’d say that’s a fairly accurate assessment. We definitely push our boundaries farther on the new project, there’s a lot of different sounds and sonic aesthetics. As far as inspirations, I think the obvious ones are Blink-182 and any of Jeff Rosenstock’s music pretty much. From my end I’ve definitely probably brought in some influence from like Neck Deep or Radiohead, but honestly I’m pretty scatterbrained when it comes to music so I tend to pull small parts from a lot of different places.
NM: We definitely have some out there sounds, from jazz to metal. For me, at least, I always describe our music as progressive rock with a sturdy foundation of punk music. We all have a lot of very different influences, and I think that it shows. We take pride in genre bending while trying to make it feel natural and flow smoothly.
RRX: You guys had fantastic energy at the Battle of the Bands I saw (not to seem like an ass-kisser, but I felt that you guys should have won that). How important is having a fun stage presence to you guys?
ZL: I guess the important thing for me is to just be myself on stage. I’m not really into being this larger than life ‘rock star’ type. I value being able to show people that anyone can do what I do. I feel the less folks on pedestals is crucial to cultivating better spaces both online, and on stage.
JL: I appreciate that you enjoyed the energy of the performance. I’m usually just trying to put out some sort of energy and go with it because a lot of the songs are pretty difficult and I need to put a lot of focus on them; it’s kind of the way my brain works.
RRX: One of your lyrics on “Skateboard Petalboard” references Guitar Hero 3. How many of you can actually pass “Through the Fire and the Flames” on expert (I’m not sure if that song was on that particular game as I was a Rock-Band kid, but it’s still a rite of passage)? Just curious.
ZL: I tried to FC (full combo) it, but I couldn’t quite do it. I suppose that’s why I’m not really a shredder.
JL: “Through the Fire and the Flames” WAS in fact on GH3. I’m pretty sure I may have made it through an expert like once but it’s possible I never did it at all. I got pretty good at GH but that song is something else. My friend Noah from high school can play it and he uses the controller like a keyboard in his lap. It’s kind of crazy.
RRX: Describe your songwriting process. How do you usually decide what to use and what to scrap?
ZL: Sometimes it’s lyrics first, sometimes it’s the music. Sometimes it all comes together quite quickly. Usually the stuff scrapped would be songs that weren’t complete, songs that weren’t finished, or songs that weren’t fleshed out. It was nice to focus on some broader lyrical ideas this time around, and try to make this album experience a bit more dynamic of a listen.
NM: Usually someone brings a riff or lyrics, or even the skeleton of an entire song, and we just play it until we’re all happy with what’s there. I feel extremely lucky to be in a band with such talented musicians who have a similar taste as me, it makes the writing process fun and quick. Someone usually suggests an idea and everything one else loves it more times than not.
RRX: Describe your favorite/funniest local show.
ZL: My weirdest was in my old cover band, we played a backyard show in Albany for a bunch of biker dudes for $300, and they invited us to their “man cave.” We were all young, and had parents there. They were indulging in illicit substances and offered us $300 more to play everything again, and tried to entice us saying there were going to be strippers. We left because we had school the next day I think.
JL: There have been many meme worthy moments in the Northway lore. There was this one time that sticks out to me and my memory. We were playing at The Hollow in Albany and one of the tracks that we played was “Party Dog” which is off the EP. Nick and I were hanging out after the set and there was this guy who was totally wrecked yelling “YEAH! PARTY DOG!” after everyone else’s songs. It was pretty hilarious.
RRX: Anyone you want to give a shoutout to? Are there any other local bands you guys absolutely love and think everyone should listen to?
JL: Certainly. First and foremost I have to shout out my friends in Ampevene. Awesome fusion of prog and psychedelic and always a great show. Start the Reactor and Ghost Walker are some of my favorite heavier bands I’ve seen. Outside of rock music I really like the singer songwriter stylings of Taylor Wing and Maddy Hicks. A hip hop group called Social Propaganda from Burnt Hills put out a project called Shed Light that I got to play on a little bit and I’m a huge fan of.
NM: I gotta give shoutouts to bands that I listen to and legitimately enjoy, Grape Juice, Lemon of Choice, Raspberry Jam, Start the Reactor, and Maddy Hicks.
RRX: This final question will be an opportunity for you guys to say whatever you want; promote your upcoming or already released works, talk about future plans or anything you think the readers should know.
JL: The new album should be out in September assuming all goes smoothly. More details will be revealed shortly on our social media, check out The Northway on FB and @thenorthwayband on Instagram and give us a follow if you want. Also, #SAVEOURSTAGES! Please support the local venues in any way you can! Without them I’ll have to go see Sunday afternoon Kidz Bop shows at SPAC for $40 for musical entertainment. Jokes aside, tell your legislators to save local music.