It’s been a long time between drinks for Calgary punks Downway. The band last released music back in 2003, a memorable split EP with fellow Canadian punk rockers Belvedere appropriately called Hometown Advantage. That’s when I first discovered Downway and their melodic brand of skate punk. Graceful as it was hard-hitting and accentuated by its DIY production values, it was great punk rock that wasn’t overproduced or overdone. Downway proved that all you needed were a couple of guitars, a bass, some drums, razor-sharp melodies, and a knack for writing great songs. They were played on MuchMusic, performed at the Warped Tour, and had music produced by Good Riddance’s Russ Rankin, all accomplishments any band would be proud of. But they called time on their music not long after, leaving the Downway to name rest idle for years.

Reunions can be a tricky thing, but when you talk to Downway’s Dave Pederson, you can tell that this reunion is about the important things- the music, the fans, and the band. Reunited, Downway are releasing their first new music in more than 14 years, a new full-length album titled Last Chance for More Regrets on Montreal-based label Thousand Islands Records. The album features the soaring melodies and up-tempo punk that became their calling card, but when you listen to tracks like “Wild Ones”, you’ll hear a band injecting years worth of life and introspection into an already effective formula. With their new music it sounds like Downway never left at all, but in truth, you’ll hear a band that took their time away to just get better

We spoke to Pederson after the band had concluded their Japanese tour and talked about their reformation, what it means to them to get back on the road and their hopes for their new album.

Welcome back! How does it feel to be back together?

It’s been a fun 2 years since we decided to do this. I didnt expect we would get so deep back into it but it’s been amazing.

What was the catalyst to reforming, how did it happen?

It was actually at my 40th birthday party in 2016. We were all there except for Isaac, whom we hadn’t spoken with in years unfortunately, and Dave Holmes and I got to talking over a beer and thought, hey let’s play some shows and maybe put out a new song or two. Lyndon, our drummer now, was at the party and literally met Holmes right then and there and I said; “and this guy will play drums!” Ryan and Holmes said “cool” and that was that.

What’s kept all of you busy away from Downway the last 14 or so years?

Many many things. We all have different career paths. Every one of us has 2 kids. I work in Oil & Gas, Holmes is a Physiotherapist, Lyndon works in the restaurant biz and Ryan runs his own business. Some of us are married, some used to be, (*laughs*), everyone is busy with life beyond Downway.

Listen to “Wild Ones”:

Listening to your new songs, “Part of the Show” and “Wild Ones”, it sounds like you guys haven’t lost a step at all. I love these new songs. What was it like coming back writing new songs after a good decade plus away?

We weren’t too sure what this would sound like as we haven’t written an album together in so long that we didn’t really talk about a direction or anything. We literally just started bringing songs to the table, either working on them or scrapping them. No one’s feelings got hurt if others weren’t digging it or anything like that. And I think we made our best record ever cause there’s zero pressure on this one.

And getting back in front of a crowd, playing shows again- how have they been?

That’s been the main reason we are doing this. Just being up there and connecting with people. We all missed that and there’s no substitute for that in life. If you haven’t played on a stage with your friends and fans singing your songs then you really don’t know what it’s like. It’s why every band does what they do for the most part.

So a lot has changed since your last release, the 2003 split with Belvedere, have you guys noticed a change in the industry and has any of it changed the way you guys do things? (online, offline etc)

OMG yes! We don’t even have a website or anything like that now. Who goes to websites? (Editor’s note: hopefully people go to this one) And if you want to hear our albums anywhere in the world you just type our name into your phone on some app and there ya go. Instant. That’s so different than 15 years ago. As for shows … it’s still punk rock bars, flat beer and no earplugs for this band.

Downway - Last Chance for More Regrets

Last Chance for More Regrets

Available May 1st on Thousand Islands Records

What were some of the most important things you wanted to get right with the new album that was different to your previous releases?

I think just the quality of the recording was super important. Songs as well of course, but we were sorta plagued with less than stellar recordings throughout our career. Great songs but many didn’t deliver sonically in our opinion. And that was due to a lack of money or time or whatever the case, so this time it was seriously, just keep buying more studio time until this album sounded exactly how we wanted it to.

How did you guys connect with Thousand Island Records?

I think I Instagram messaged Bruno and was like what’s up?! There’s a perfect example of how things have changed. You can get record deals on Instagram now if they like your music lol

Ok so what’s been the most enjoyable thing that’s happened since you guys got back on the road and in the studio?

Touring Japan was pretty totally amazing. Never saw that coming. Great country, great people, great fans over there. Can’t wait to go back. Really looking forward to this spring tour in Ontario/Quebec where we had some great shows back in the day. Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

Congrats on the new album guys, look forward to seeing you guys at a show.

Thanks Billy. Really appreciate your support. Hopefully meet you sooner than later.

Watch the lyric video for “Part of the Show”:

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