This edition of "Four Chords & Seven Years Ago" comes from Johnny Minardi, former owner of LLR Records, former A&R at Fueled By Ramen, and the CEO of Self-Titled Management. In this "Four Chords & Seven Years Ago," Johnny gives a personal and behind-the-scenes look at the development of Days Away. We'd like to thank Johnny for his contribution!
Days Away has a special place in my heart. I have a very long and very random history with the band and their music so bare with me while I ramble through it and excuse all of the grammatical errors. They hail from just outside of Philadelphia, PA. In 2002, I first learned about the band back when they signed with a small southern California label that had signed The Starting Line called We The People Records. They released an EP called The Feel Of It. The EP was full of catchy pop rock tunes with some flashes of what was to come in the future for the band.
“She Knows My Name” from The Feel Of It EP
On a very snowy Valentine’s Day in 2003 near Philadelphia, I was in a blue mini van with my friend William Beckett on his first east coast tour as Remember Maine. The show was in a big VFW type hall with Punchline, Unsung Zeros, Zoloft The Rock and Roll Destroyer and Days Away as headliners. A friday at a VFW with great bands from the area? That’s every touring bands dream right there. The show was great like most VFW shows back in the day cause fans actually loved going to see new music and Days Away/Punchline brought a great crowd. We watched and admired. You knew the band was special and to me they were way better then the recording led on. Incredible jam band quality mixed with emotional pop (“emo” for you kids) and that weird “X factor” label guys love talking about. One of the tightest band I had seen at that level. The guys were super nice and invited us to stay with them at their place because they were having a party (again, a few stories for another day out of this including getting evicted shortly after).
“God and Mars” from Mapping An Invisible World
Fast forward to early 2005 a few months after I began working at Fueled By Ramen in Tampa. My boss came into my office with a burnt CDr (remember those?) and said “Do you like Days Away?” which I of course responded with “Yeah, they’re great”. He went on to say something along the lines of “Well their label sent me their record asking if we’d be interested in working with them on it. Let me know what you think of the record”. He didn’t want to give me his opinion before I had a chance to listen to it. I listened and listened and listened to the album for days. At work, in my car, at home. Monday morning, I went into his office and let him know I was obsessed with it. At the time, we had a very small tight knit staff and he said to put it on the next CDr we pass to the label to get everyone’s opinions. I took my favorite 3 songs from the record and put them on a sampler with 3 other bands (I can’t recall exactly but some combination of Liam and Me, Race The Sun, The Audition and Tyler Read). Obviously feedback was great and the wheels were in motion. A side note to signing the band, we all went to see them in Tampa and watching Tim tell a full label staff that his email was firstname.lastname@example.org was a moment for the ages.
“Ideas” from Mapping An Invisible World
I don’t remember exactly which songs I put on the sampler but they were all finished tracks from Mapping An Invisible World so what did it matter? The full record is incredible. It’s just layers and layers of incredible pop rock. Very atmospheric. They didn’t sound like a lot of the bands that were out at the time and there still hasn’t been a sound exactly like it. They always reminded me of an updated and more pop version of Sunny Day Real Estate. I think a lot of people never spent the time to fully love the record. I always joked that we should have put a sticker on the front of the record that said “Listen to this record at least 5 times. Guaranteed to love or your money back”. I still think that statement rings true. When it hits you, it hits you hard. Another testament for how good it is front to back is the fact that we could never settle on what song should have a video shot for it. I can’t even recall ever doing one because we all had different favorite “singles”.
My personal favorite from the record, the closer “T. Klines Decline”. They played this song perfectly live. It had this insane groove. I can even picture Tim doing the subtle snare hits and Keith just swaying around the stage with his eyes closed.
“T. Klines Decline” from Mapping An Invisible World
Unfortunately, sales weren’t huge and people weren’t really reacting. I was very confused because it had become an all time favorite for me and many of the staff members. The band sort of fell into this weird title that I hate using but I guess it’s flattering by being called “A band’s band”. Bands were obsessed with the record. Bands would hit them up about taking them out on the road. When we put together the FBR 15th Anniversary video series in 2011, we asked all the bands on the label to name their top 5 FBR releases. Days Away ended up in the Top 5 for Paramore, fun., VersaEmerge, The Swellers and This Providence. That’s a tough feat! Watch some the bands gush over Days Away:
fun. (Go to 1:26 to hear them talk about it)
Like all good things, the working relationship came to an end. During that time, some of us stayed in touch with the band and they’d send us new demos every so often. The band had a little bit more of a bitter taste from the label experience as they’d send us demos under the album title “Fooled By Ramen”. Clever joke eh? I actually found this post on ap.net from Keith about it:
"Just wanted to let yall know that there is no bad blood between us and FBR records.
It just wasn't the right place for Days Away.
We hope this clears up all of your questions/concerns. For those of you wanting to know all of the details, we are sorry, we cannot give them to you for legal reasons. Plus, to us, it's kind of like asking us to explain to you ALL of the details of why we broke up with our girlfriends.
Fooled By Ramen is funny
Please, check back for more posts from us because there is a lot brewing where I am...
In 2007, the band went on to self release an EP called Ear Candy For The Headphone Trippers. The EP is a great continuation of Mapping An Invisible World. A little spacier sounding, some cool experimentation with classic Days Away mixed in. Unfortunately the band didn’t stay together too much longer. Luckily Keith/Tim were not done giving music to the world as they went on to form Good Old War. I’m still a huge fan of their work they continue to put forth and I’ll always be listening. It was a great walk down memory lane to dig back into their full body of work and I’ll be spending the rest of the day enjoying some Days Away. I suggest you do the same. And if you don’t know, now you know!
“Wish” from Ear Candy For The Headphone Trippers EP
“I’m Sorry I Told You All My Problems” from Ear Candy For The Headphone Trippers EP