EXCLUSIVE: Elway ‘Leavetaking’ Track-By-Track

UTG is excited to host the official track-by-track rundown for Elway’s new album, Leavetaking.

After spending the spring perched on the lips of every “in the know” music fan, Elway have finally released their highly-anticipated new album through digital retailers (a physical release will happen on July 2). The album is a goldmine of raw punk emotion, bursting at the seams with a sense of working class struggle and romanticism that sets it apart from other summer releases. We know some of you may not be familiar with Elway just yet, but having been addicted to Leavetaking for the past month we have little doubt you’ll soon succumb to their infectious sound and be hooked for good. You can stream a song from the album alongside the full track-by-track feature below.

As we mentioned above, Leavetaking is available today through digital retailers, including Amazon. Those hoping for a physical copy will have to wait until next week.

The Great Divorce
While the song title is lifted from the C.S. Lewis novella of the same name, the idea behind the song is pretty antithetical to Lewis’.  The book basically describes a nightmare in which the narrator travels between heaven and hell with a bunch of other ghosts in limbo and, in realizing the horrific potential of hell, the reader is supposed to reaffirm their moral commitment to Christian ethical norms or whatever.  Lewis’ “divorce” is between heaven and hell through the upholding of faith.  This song is about a girl trapped in an abusive relationship with god, as is so often the case, and rather than acquiesce for fear of eternal punishment after dreaming of the horrors of damnation as described within a Christian upbringing, she makes a conscientious decision to excise the abusive relationship from her life altogether.  My “divorce” is between people and the incredibly nefarious concept of an omnipresent god.  For the discerning listener, this song contains the first of several references to Sylvia Plath on the record.
Salton Sea
You ever heard of the place?  It’s a huge lake in the southern California desert created by accident by civil engineers while trying to divert the Colorado river.  An entire resort town was built along the lakeshore, promising to be a new, fabulous destination for tourists.  Like Palm Springs, but with a huge lake.  Well, after a few booming years, the high salt and mineral content of the lake bed killed off nearly all the fish with botulism and the town swiftly went bankrupt and is now mostly abandoned.  The song uses that story as a simple metaphor for leaving whatever it is that ailed you in the past.
Prophetstown is a song about being torn between two things that you love which are in diametrical opposition to one another, being thereafter unable to reconcile the two and in turn resenting both.  In my case, it’s my friendship, home life, and comfort versus the prospect of playing in a punk band all over the world.  It’s like a schizophrenic version of “The Boy Is Mine” By Monica and Brandy.  No wait… It’s my spiteful, gloomy extrapolation of Shakespeare’s “My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites.”  It features a clutch chorus guest vocal by the pint-sized Leo Vergnetti from Captain We’re Sinking.  The title comes from a little town along the 88 in western Illinois that always seems to remind me of where we’re coming from and where we’re going at the same time.
One Flew East
The first half of a two part story that involved me going a little crazy at a friend’s wedding (illicit substances were regrettably involved) and falling into a sort of totally fucked crisis of self-analysis.  I’ve left a lot of things unaddressed for years and they all came boiling up at once at maybe the worst time ever and I really felt like I had up and lost my shit.  It’s a cautionary tale, people.  Tell that girl/guy that you’ve been in love with for ages that you want to whisk them away to Akron for the vacation of a lifetime!  Spend more time with your parents, those folks are pretty rad!  Don’t wind up a jaded drunk dick at the bar wondering where all your friends went.  Et cetera…  Oh  yeah, and that’s Steve-o from The Holy Mess lending his throat.
One Flew West
The same night of my buddies wedding: I have locked myself in my bathroom, I am bleeding profusely from my nose, and I am waiting nervously for a specific person to answer their phone and rescue me from what certainly seemed at the time to be nothing short of the end of the world.  While sitting there I started writing this song about how I want to rectify the situation, I want to keep my momentum and move on from the mistakes I’ve made, and I want to do it in specific company.
Someday, Sea Wolf
Wherein love is created and destroyed by happenstance, but never without leaving permanent marks.  The coming and going of the highs of human emotional consciousness lends itself to my affirmation that the acts of god aren’t immoral for allowing the suffering of his creations, but amoral because god does not exist.  This song is my resignation to the fact that to all things, there is a directionless existentialism.  It’s not a happy song.  It’s an acquiescence to the fact that, despite our beliefs to the contrary, the flow of fate* will have its way with our very souls and, as with the titular character in Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf,” it will kill the shit out of you.
*- By “fate,” I mean the unavoidable rudderlessness of the universe.
My take on the Greek fairytale legend about the enormous man who transports people across a raging river like some sort of beast of burden/human bridge combo.  One day Christopher crosses the river with a baby on his back and it nearly kills him.  Once he crosses the river, he learns that the baby was Jesus and the weight he felt on his back was the weight of the world.  SAINTHOOD AWARDED, BRO!  Well in my version, the weight of guilt, loss, and remorse are our Christopher’s load and there is no happy ending, no sainthood awarded, and a whole lot of wasted energy for an emotion that can be dealt with rationally and quite easily circumnavigated.  Much like faith.
Banned From Gun World
Alright, we’ve been at this gloomy, diffident self-aware shit for a while now, how’s about a love song eh?
A song I wrote while we were on tour with The Holy Mess guys after playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal.  It was our first venture out of the country and the feeling of playing music in cities that are as foreign to me as Quebec seemed then overtook me.  I swore up and down that it was the most beautiful city Elway would ever take me.  Turns out there are a lot of cool cities elsewhere, and with every new one I get to see, my conviction to live like a dirt turkey at home so I can go on tour and see the world with my band gets stronger.  This song is also a bit of a love letter to people in my life who have stuck it out with me for all these years.

I was eyebrows deep in teenage post-breakup malaise at the age of 25 and I wanted to try my hand at waxing Americana.  So I wrote this straightforward four-chorder that’s way fun to play and sing, with a repetitive hook that sort of drives it all home.  Title is a reference to my girl Sylvia Plath’s horse.  Respect.
There Is A Line
The last two songs on the record sort of show the dichotomy between the general and the specific when it comes to the overarching theme of the record.  This song refers to the specific things which drove me to write songs in the first place.  Failed relationships.  Unrequited love.  Skirting around responsibility for want of alcohol.  Failed relationships.  All wrapped up in a handful of literary references.  The actual story is too personal to just up and give away on the internet and come off as becoming in any way.  Moving on!
Patria Mia (Room 20)
The general message of Leavetaking is that there is so much in the world to see, so many cities to wander around half drunk at7:30am in, and so many amazing people to meet that you cannot allow yourself to be mired in the things which ail you.  Also, to escape from those things which ail you is easier said than done, and you’ll probably go crazy trying.  I wrote this song as sort of a mission statement for where Elway is as a band, where I am as a person, and where we are headed.  There is an empowering sadness to moving on from a person, or a place, or anything.  The point of it all is that in leavetaking (the action, not the album) there is momentum that will carry you to amazing new things, and you have to grab hold of that momentum before it’s too late and you’ve already been settled-off and buried in a $300,000 mortgage.  And yes, the (Room 20) part of the title is a nod to No Use For A Name’s “Room 19,” from which I pinched a bit of the verse melody.  A fitting nod to one of the people who showed me just how profound and far-reaching a silly sub-genre of music can be.


James Shotwell
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