I met the members of Way Out – drummer Anna Wingfield, bass player Nick Sadler and lead singer/guitar player/frontman Derek Knox – the morning after their first show of 2016. If you haven’t seen or heard them yet, get to it, especially if you’re partial to guitar rock that comes directly from the sexy, gothy corner of post-punk. Way Out deals in a potently danceable kind of darkness, and their EP release show at Aurora in February was one of the best I’ve been to in ages.
But before I ask them anything else that morning I have to know one thing: why release anything in 2016 on cassette?
“To me it makes complete sense,” says Nick “The way the music world works now it’s another way for subcultures to keep their music subcultural. It’s more exclusive as a result.”
“Things are moving towards the intangible, so this goes in the opposite direction,” adds Derek. “I like keeping a physical thing a part of our music.”
Just like they designed their own logo, screen printed their own shirts at Anna’s house and recruited a friend to make their pins, cassettes are something Way Out could make themselves. Of course there’s a strong dose of pragmatism to it. It’s cheaper than pressing vinyl. Plus you need something for people to take away from your shows.
“All idealism aside it still comes with a download code,” Derek says, conceding to the fact that while it’s a novel thing to have, it’s not part of any subversive, analog revolution. I would have purchased the EP either way, but as a believer in the importance of physical media (aka a packrat) I’ll take a cassette I never plan on playing any day over a cold, impersonal download code.
In addition to being their first gig of 2016 and the physical release of their EP, this particular show marked one year (roughly) since the band’s current line up had come together.
“This whole last year has been focused on building up the band itself more than songwriting,” says Derek. “I had finished most of the songs we play in our set now, but we built them up together. We spent a lot of time getting tight. In that regard it feels like we got a lot accomplished.”
The show certainly felt like the culmination of something. A lot of time, effort and anticipation had primed the band and the audience for a loud, powerful night of rock and roll. It was, by all counts, a rager. From the moment the first band of the night, Laika’s Orbit, started playing it was on. They played on the floor, not the stage, and the crowd left them just enough room. Ditto for the next two acts, Savage Blind God and Black Beach. By the time Way Out took the actual stage at midnight – all echoey riffs, machine-precise drums and big, bouncing bass – everyone was going full tilt.
Even Way Out seemed a bit taken by the crowd’s passionate response to their set. The dancing, that one guy crowd surfing. People began chanting the band’s name and by the end of their set were demanding an encore.
“We couldn’t do an encore,” says Anna. “We didn’t have another song.”
They had played through the four songs on their EP plus the few others they’d spent that last year perfecting, “the real bangers” as Anna rightfully describes them. It was an evening of bangers. I told them their set brought me back to ‘80s Night at Club Hell and Nick, being the only member of the band who grew up here nodded approvingly. “I spent a lot of time there,” he says. “Gothed out pretty heavily.”
Going forward the plan is to hit the road, play gigs, write some more bangers. Follow them. Follow them closely. Buy a tape even if you don’t have a tape deck. Way Out’s just getting started.