Fresh off the release of the forthcoming EP, Bliss, Connecticut-based quartet A Will Away presents a delightful sound that walks in the shadows of iconic groups like Taking Back Sunday, The Early November and Hidden In Plain View. With a creatively heartfelt approach to their music, as well as a passionate live performance that transcendently embraces innovative spontaneity, A Will Away still cherish the sincerity behind their nostalgically-driven alternative sound. While they are still an up-and-coming act, A Will Away is a relentlessly dedicated group of talented and genuine musicians that you should definitely keep your eyes on in months to come.
Just a week before their East Coast tour with the Buffalo, New York-based indie outlet Casey Bolles, I was graced with the opportunity to speak with A Will Away frontman Matt Carlson about their love for the New Jersey, working with producer Gary Cioffi (who has previously worked with acclaimed pop punk acts like Transit and Four Year Strong) on Bliss, along with the band’s overall excitement to get out on the road to share these new songs with everyone and anyone who is eager to listen.
Next week, you’ll be starting your East Coast run with Casey Bolles. What are some things you’ll be looking forward to the most?
About the tour, I’m looking forward to the whole thing. We’ve been off the road for about four months almost. We finished up the tour that we did in December and went in and recorded a record with [producer] Gary Cioffi out in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we have been unbelievably excited to share it with people. The entire process—writing the record and the whole process recording—was absolutely incredible for us, and it’s something we are really excited to share, you know?
Our biggest thing that we’re happy about is the fact that the turnouts for this tour look like [they] are going to be really great. We’re going to reconnect with a lot of our friends and it’s just going to be a phenomenally fun time, provided everything goes exactly as planned.
I know you have a lot of friends and outstanding support here in New Jersey. Do you feel New Jersey was an appropriate spot to start the tour?
Yeah man, there is no question. I mean, Jersey for us is a home away from home, you know? When we started this band, we started playing in Connecticut; we’re playing with a lot of bands here, and the scene here, unfortunately, just hasn’t been as strong as it has been in previous years. So, when the scene started to die down a little bit here, we decided that we were going to start moving out and going to play in other states. And one of the first states that really welcomed us with open arms was New Jersey.
We made a ton of friends there, we joined the Mayflower Collective because of how much fun we had playing with bands like Cross Town Train and On Your Marks, and just how much those resources helped us. New Jersey is exactly where we should be playing our first show on this tour. We wouldn’t think of playing anywhere else. It’s the place that we consider to be the “home-base” of the band despite the fact that that’s not where we live.
Throughout your time in New Jersey, have you always preferred playing house shows and D.I.Y. spots for the most part? With that in mind, is the show at GameChangerWorld your first show in Jersey playing in an actual venue?
Yeah, you know… we’ve done a couple of different things in Jersey, as far as venues go. We’ve played GameChangerWorld before some time last year. And it was a pretty good experience, but we really do tend to go more on the side of D.I.Y. and house shows—especially in New Jersey for a couple of different reasons.
The first and foremost reason being the people, specifically, the audience members who make it out to a show in a place where there may not normally be a show, are legitimately enthusiastic about music, and specifically are legitimately enthusiastic about hearing music. And for us that what it’s all about, you know what I mean? It’s all about sharing basically what we’ve made with people and we want to share it with people who are going to be the most enthusiastic to hear it.
And we always found out pretty much in every state that we play in, that the D.I.Y. shows, even though the shows may be a little smaller, we found that the people who show up to a D.I.Y. space want to be there—they don’t feel an obligation to be there. And that’s something really, as a band, there’s absolutely no way to compare the two.
Like you’ve mentioned earlier, it won’t be too long until you’ll be officially releasing your EP, Bliss. What was it like working with Gary Cioffi—who has previously worked with bands like Transit—when you were putting together Bliss? Throughout the writing and recording process for this record, how did he influence you to push yourselves and excelling musicians?
Gary is incredible, man. Gary is incredible and for a lot of different reasons, and he is very interesting for a lot of different reasons. But primarily speaking, he was the ideal fit for us. And we had a hunch that we might be going into the process—just from hearing things from friends who have worked with him based on his production style and his previous works—that Gary was somebody we knew we would want to work with.
And we reached out to him, he was so receptive of the idea, and really just worked with us so closely throughout the entire writing process right up until we got into the studio. And when we finally got there—I want to say right from five minutes in—we just clicked. He understood what we were going for, and what we got to do throughout the process of recording was that, and you know, just watching the whole process happen in front of us as everybody was working, and just sort of see the thing come together in a no-stress kind of way.
For a lot of bands, I know working with a producer can be stressful because you may not always agree with your producer on the artistic angle. What we found about Gary was that he really dove into our artistic vision and he ran with it in a way that is so his own. We didn’t have to worry about it because we knew that at the end of the day, when everything came together, the record was going to sound the way that we wanted it to sound because Gary understood how we wanted it to sound.
Right before this tour, you premiered two singles, “Cheap Wine” and “My Sitter.” What’s the general response been to the new material so far?
It’s actually been a bit overwhelming, to be honest. We did not know what to expect going into the release cycle. You know, we’ve put out records before—we’ve always taken a little bit of a non-conventional approach to pop rock and punk “stylings” and sort of … we just play the music that we want to play—and so we kind of hope that, whatever we think is fun to play for us, is going to be something that people will enjoy.
But we really had no idea what to anticipate with the reception on Bliss, especially on social media. People have been extremely receptive; people seem to be open-minded. It’s a different record—it’s definitely not something that is consistent with a lot of stuff that is being put out currently—and I think that we were a little bit anxious about it. At the same time, again, we decided to play what we enjoy playing, and it’s been overwhelming how excited people are getting over the record. It’s making us a little bit more excited to get on the road and share it with more people.
Considering the positive feedback of the new songs, has this made you even more excited to release Bliss, and break out these songs on the road?
Without a doubt, man. I mean, I hope that everybody who chooses to listen to the record also makes it a point to come out to the shows. Bliss is 100 percent different record live than on the record, and that’s a good thing as far as we are concerned. The two sounds are extremely unique: we created the exact sound that what we wanted to on the actual record, and we created exactly the sound that we wanted to going into our live performances, and I want everyone who is excited about the record to come and see it live—to experience it at a different angle.
We’re so excited about how people are responding to it, and I can’t honestly imagine what the response is going to be when we actually get the chance to play it for the same people live. You know, we are all unbelievably, unbelievably excited after seeing all of the people responding.
The timeframe of an album’s release is always the most exciting. Now, would you consider Bliss as a prequel for a possible full-length in the works anytime soon?
You know, Bliss is interesting for me because I don’t consider it as an EP, and I don’t think anybody in the band does. An “EP” comes with the immediate connotation that this is a prelude to something else—something greater, something bigger, something… different. It definitely is, in the sense that is the kind of sound that we have as a band. I think that we finally really captured the sound that we’ve been developing while we’ve been touring over the last couple of years.
But as far as the actual record itself, Bliss, to us, is an artistic project that stands entirely on its own. We actually scrapped a full-length that we were writing previous to Bliss, and started completely from scratch about a month before we went into the studio, and just wrote an impulse record that we wanted to write—it just kind of came out all in one piece.
When it was all said and done, and when we wrapped it up, the way that we think about the record is the best possible example of who we are, how we do things, and just the kind of music that we want to make. Bliss itself has a message behind it—it’s all about just… sort of finding comfort in being whatever that you are, and sort of getting over the preconceived notion of trying to define how “successful” you can be or have been in any capacity. And for us, Bliss, it’s… it’s bliss, it’s exactly what it is. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the thing that makes us the happiest, and I think that is going to translate.
We do have plans to write another record, and we do have plans for a full-length. We’re going to see where this year takes us, and hopefully we’ll be in a position to make that happen in the near future.
A Will Away will be playing at The Fire in Philadelphia on April 8, Coco 66 in Brooklyn on April 12 and The College Of New Jersey in Ewing on April 24. Their new EP, Bliss, is out now. For more information, go to facebook.com/awillawayofficial.