Words & Photos by Amber James

A few weeks ago right after the second leg of Four Year Strong’s ‘Rise or Die Trying’ ten year tour kicked off, I traveled to Cleveland to get a chance to hang out with the fans of the maple leaf, Canadians Seaway. It was the day before their new full length Vacation via Pure Noise Records was set to be released. With the tour having kicked off in Portland, ME, the week before it had worked its way throughout New England and hit Cleveland before the tour made its way out into the Midwest.

Arriving slightly before the band, I took in the area and the venue to prepare for the day, located across the street was a huge Salvation Army that seemed to go on forever once you went inside. Rolling up from getting food at Melt, they started loading out underneath what was the perfect warm fall day. Bassist, Adam Shoji, was the first to introduce himself and we talked about how the day would go leading up to their set. While he had to take care of a couple band related matters, I went and briefly hung out with their vocalist Ryan Locke, who was doing a quick interview before the show in the back area of the Cleveland Agora. I stuck around for a few minutes to see the first half of the interview before heading across the street to check out the Salvation Army. A couple of the guys had already headed over to check out what it had to offer, but by the time I’d made it over there the only one left was guitarist Andrew Eichinger. Spending a couple minutes there, we found what could’ve been the most perfect pair of dad jeans. Unfortunately, we had to put them back because #tourlife.

Getting back to the parking lot next to the Agora, I got the chance to meet the rest of the guys as the afternoon’s fun had started to be had. The setup could have been something out of The Sandlot. Part of the parking lot had a sandy, gravelly finish and a few of the guys, including Eichinger, broke out some baseball gloves and started playing a giant game of catch, stretched across the parking lot. Meanwhile, the other guitarist, Patrick Carleton, had set up camp with his foldable chair and book to read. His book selection definitely seemed appropriate for our country’s current situation, entitled Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change by Michael Hart.

Soon though, the corn hole series of the decade was about to start. Having been toted around in their trailer for this tour, the custom Toronto Maple Leafs corn hole boards were unloaded and set up. Little did I know just exactly how much setup was required for this game, I had no idea that there was a specific amount of steps that needed to be between the two separate boards. Maybe, you the reader, did but I did not. And for all those wondering, this was a series to be remembered. Words were had, frustrations grew and beanbags were thrown, but in the end, I have honestly no idea who actually won the most games. Towards the end of the series, some eighteen packs of beer magically appeared at the van. Welcome Hamm’s beer into the mix, born in the land of sky blue waters aka Minnesota. My tidbit of knowledge for the day that I acquired was that apparently that the band Tiny Moving Parts is super fond of this lesser known cheap beer.

This triggered one of the most important conversations ever: what are the best cheap beers out there and does it vary from the United States to Canada. And if you don’t think this conversation matters to you, dear reader, then you’ve obviously never been a connoisseur of fine cheap beers like we’ve all been. For some reason, I’ve found Canadians seem to be super fond of anything Natty, Natty Ices, Natty Lights and Natty Daddys. I’m still confused by this fact.

Soon however, it was time for their set as fellow Canadians, Like Pacific finished up their set for the night. The Canadian quintet opened their set with the lead off single “Slam” off their previous full length, Colour Blind. Locke’s smooth pop punk moves, patterned shirt and sunglasses make him and the rest of the band stand out from the pack. Almost instantly the packed crowd was singing along to the songs, crowd surfers making their way towards the stage before diving back into the melee. Most of their set consisted of tracks off of Colour Blind with a few of their singles off Vacation, such as “Apartment” and “Something Wonderful.” It almost seemed to be a pre-celebration for the release of Vacation, as it was set to be released the next day, with the true celebration going to be at Riot Fest in Chicago the next day. It had been a while since I had seen Seaway live and I loved how much they were actually connecting with their fans during their set, guiding fans onto stage during their crowd surfing and putting the mic into the crowd to let fans sing parts of songs.

After their set, I got a chance to talk to Locke about more band related matters and their new album, among other things. Their new album is a departure from their original pop punk type of sound. Since they’ve matured over the years as they’ve gotten older, their sound has matured as well. So, as much as they still enjoy playing the pop punk sound, they’re also enjoying playing songs with a much more straight forward almost rock sound. Locke describes that, because they’re growing both as people and a band, it’s why they don’t play songs like “Sabrina the Teenage Bitch” quite as much anymore because they’re replacing it with newer songs.

We also talked about the ASPCA benefit they had done with their recently released music video for one of their new singles, “Lula on the Beach.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, they held an online benefit, donating a dollar per share up to one thousand dollars/one thousand shares. With so much devastation throughout Texas and Florida, the band wanted to be able to do something to help contribute to the relief efforts. Even as a smaller band and a limit on how much money they had available to donate, they wanted to be able to contribute and were excited that they were able to do something. The even more exciting part was that within hours of them announcing it, they reached their $1000 dollar goal, thanks to their fans.

Finishing up our chat, we ended with the differences between touring in the snowfields otherwise known as Canada and here in the land of PBR. As big as Canada is, the major cities are still super stretched out across the country, which makes touring harder because of all the travel involved. There’s 35 million people in Canada overall whereas California alone has that many people. It’s relatively impossible to make a living off touring in Canada alone, Locke explained, some bands can pull it off but it’s super hard to exist simply in Canada. So, by touring to the US there’s more opportunities and cities to help Canadian bands “make it” so to say.

Seaway is still out on the second leg of Four Year Strong’s ‘Rise or Die Trying’ ten year tour until the end of the month or so, so make sure you check them out on that if they come to your city. And their album Vacation has since been released on Pure Noise Records, so if you’re not able to make it out to a show, check out their album!

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