I’m a jaded soul when it comes to pop punk. Of course there’ll always be some new songs I can jam to; of course I’ll always love Blink-182; but in a bottomless sea (no pun intended) of mediocre pop punk records it can be a challenge to find something that feels meaningful. About a month ago, I listened to an advance of a new pop punk record slated for release this Friday that put a stupid grin on my face — that record is Vacation by the brilliant punks in Seaway.

Vacation doesn’t immediately grab your attention. It’s far from the in-your-face melodrama that is so indicative of the modern genre. What makes makes Vacation such a special release is its subtleties and it’s daringness to subvert expectations. Seaway’s previous release Colour Blind also happens to be a damn fine work in pop punk, but Vacation improves upon Seaway’s winning formula by toning down their bombastic energy in favor of a sound that leans towards the alternative without losing the infectiousness of their pop.

In conversation with lead vocalist Ryan Locke, we discussed the recording process for Vacation and why it stands out among their previous work. With influences that span 20 years, Seaway consolidated a sound that is reminiscent of ‘90s pop punk, one that doesn’t mimic but rather sits comfortably among the veteran giants of the genre.

“I think our influences and inspirations for this record are kind of the same they’ve always been,” Locke said. “We just kind of worked a little harder at letting that bleed through a little bit more. Big influences on us are bands like Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind. And then there’s the classics like Sum 41, (Fall Out Boy), Blink-182. We really wanted to make a record that could stand with bands like that, and I think we accomplished that with Vacation.”

Locke couldn’t be more self-aware in his interpretation of their new material. Second single “Something Wonderful” exudes a sickly-sweet innocence that is impossible to dislike. “London” holds onto Seaway’s classic brand of pop punk without taking itself too seriously. This is exactly why Vacation is such a delight — where Seaway’s contemporaries tend to feel emotionally confining and taught, Vacation is a breezy, fresh listen.

“I think on Colour Blind, our last record, we started to kind of touch upon it with a few songs,” Locke said of their turn towards the early 2000s. “And I think with Vacation we really honed in on it, and were able to find this sound where it’s like reminiscent of that stuff without directly ripping anything off. I think there’s a fine line when you’re talking about influences and how you want to sound like.”

With this goal in mind, Seaway took the time to fully prepare before hitting the studio, giving themselves an additional edge in the recording of Vacation compared to Colour Blind.

“It was actually one of the most — I don’t know if I should call it stress free — but it was one of the most smooth recording processes we’ve ever had,” Locke said. “We did a lot of preproduction and demoing before we went into the studio in LA. We were very prepared going in, and that made for a very smooth recording process when we got to LA and were actually recording the record.”

This hard work has produced the band’s best material to date, songs that the band is more than excited to start playing for fans and newcomers alike.

“(‘Lula on the Beach’) was one of the songs that we definitely tried to give a bit of a different feel. I wouldn’t call it a pop punk banger, it’s a bit more indie rock vibes on it. We got a synth on it,” Locke said. “We got a lot of group sing alongs on it. It was my favorite — one of my favorite songs — to make, one of my favorite songs to record.”

With a slew of shows and a Riot Fest performance in the near future, the band will have plenty of new opportunities to show off the new tracks.

“(‘Lula on the Beach’), ‘Something Wonderful’ and ‘London’ I think are really fun, high-energy songs that I think are going to go over really well in a live setting. Honestly, I wish we could just start playing the whole record, but we’ve gotta play some old songs,” he joked.

If you are one of the unfortunate souls who are unable to attend Riot Fest, Seaway will be opening up for Four Year Strong’s Rise or Die Trying — one of the greatest albums of all time — tour this Saturday at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit. I can personally vouch for their kickass sets, and if do happen to be attending Riot, I’ll be seeing you in Seaway’s pit at The Heather Owen Stage between 2:00 and 2:30 on Friday afternoon. Now is the time to see Seaway in their best form.

“We kind of went into thinking this is a make or break record… we worked tirelessly on demos. We had a lot of good producers on it. I think it’s the best Seaway has ever been,” Locke admitted. “When we started off the band we had ideas of what we wanted to sound like — the kind of vibe we were going for. And i think that Vacation finally encompasses that vibe that we talked about when we started making the band five years ago. I think that Vacation is the all encompassing Seaway record, and I hope people take to it because like I said this is the one for us.”

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