WRITING BY EMANUELE CALIANNO
Aways Away is a four-piece alternative rock outfit hailing from Bergen County, New Jersey. The sound they’re hoping to make impact with is as unique as it is obvious. With a musical upbringing in the shadows of New York’s club scene, the band mixes the most conventional foundations of rock ‘n’ roll with the tone of alternative acts such as The Pixies, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Public Image Ltd, The Strokes, Television, and the like. Sitting down with frontman/guitarist and main songwriter Evan DeAgustinis, we look at the experiences and aspirations of a band striving to make it among a million challenges.
Fameless Quarterly: What’s the hardest part of being an aspiring artist?
Evan DeAgustinis: Right now, it’s all about getting our music past that white noise factor. The hardest part is being able to fit everyone’s life in such an uncertain project. It’s all a sacrifice at first, there’s no salary or benefits to keep you going; and you really have to figure it all out for yourself, there’s no guide or college major for aspiring rockstars. Everyone has to be on the same page if you want to make it as a group, and it can get frustrating. Also, I sometimes struggle between playing what I want and what the kids want. Do I keep on doing what I love, or give in to what has appeal? I don’t even know what people want to hear these days, but I feel if I did give in to mainstream demand, the crowd will be wanting something else by that time.
And yet your music has solid foundations in rock ‘n’ roll. Why stick with it then?
There’s something about blasting rock ’n’ roll that gives you feelings no other kind of music can get. Good rock’n’roll has soul to it, no matter how edgy or refined you play it.
What’s most discouraging about being an underground act?
Sometimes you see musical guests on late night shows or with a lot of backing and they’re not even good. It makes you think “what am I doing wrong?”. The local scene is also really not an accommodating place for artists to perform. Booking agents today will charge ten bucks to have a band play at a crappy venue with a terrible sound system, and then when they’re done their fans disappear. In the old days, people would go out to CBGB’s or Max’s Kansas City just to hang out and listen to bands, nowadays people go out to watch their friends’ band and then leave, and it’s discouraging as a musician.
What can the industry do to accommodate young artists?
There’s nothing in the industry really promoting alternative music. Most people don’t even know what college radio is when I ask them. And modern music sharing makes it all more difficult, I always say being on Spotify or iTunes is like being on a cable TV show and trying to stand out.
What is your ideal gig?
We’ve been playing support slots for some famous local bands like Wyldlife and Sponge, or this band Big Red from Australia, and we really like it. It gives us the opportunity to play to someone other than friends and family. There’s usually more people at those shows too, so it’s always more fun. It gives you a chance to prove yourself.
If the band doesn’t become successful in a few years, when do you think you’d start drawing the line?
I don’t know if I have an answer for that yet, but if ten years have gone by and I still haven’t made it, I’m going to have to ask myself “how long can I wait to become famous while I live in a crappy apartment and work two part-time jobs?”
What is it like to share in this dream with a group of friends and bandmates?
Well, I’d like to say that everyone has the same amount of commitment, but you just don’t always know. We’re all just getting out of college and trying to figure out our lives, and we can’t always meet regularly. Sometimes we won’t play a show for a while, and then when we get back to practice you feel like strangers at first.
What’s the best thing about aspiring for success?
You’re constantly on a journey. I’ve heard many bands that have made it big, and they’d like to go back to the old days, they feel they’ve got nothing left to accomplish. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. I hate the struggles right now because I’m stuck with them, but if I did get famous I’d probably miss all of it.
Aways Away full-length debut Some Things We’ll Never Know is out online, with two EP’s scheduled for release later this year.
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FQ’s DEDICATION Issue