This Way Out invites you to a show that’ll make you rock and roll all night as they play covers of songs from decades past and suck you in with their characters.
That’s right. Characters, with wigs and tights and, at the end of a long, fun, night of music, they’ve got blisters on their fingers.
Ryan Baker, who sings for the band, explains it better.
“We call it a theatrical cover group.” Baker said. “We play predominantly hits from the ’80s spanning through the 2000s. We pride ourselves in taking on characters and doing a big stage show with it. We’re the only band in town where we’ve invented a backstory for our characters and such.”
Baker’s character is Nigel Rockson. Rockson speaks with a British accent that is sort of similar to Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist.
“‘When I don the wig and I don the tights, it’s Nigel Rockson talkin’ to you,’” Baker said in a British accent. “‘Nigel Rockson rocks pretty good, he rocks pretty fine.’ He would also be quoted as saying he has rock and roll as a nucleus, rock and roll travels with him all the time. He refers to rock and the electrons where he’s the nucleus to rock. He’s a character of himself. He’s kind of a blast from the past. We’ve invented these sort of alter egos just to kind of give a little bit of a show or stage persona, you know what I mean? It kind of makes it fresh.”
All of the music, the stage, the characters, it’s all for fun, according to Baker.
“I like the brotherhood, the camaraderie of just always being in a band,” Baker said. “I’ve been in a band since I was younger. I started playing in the area when I was 18 and it’s nice for this sort of aspect of it to come together as a bunch of local musicians who want to do something different and really bring sort of a showmanship to it.”
Larry Cowles, who plays drums and whose character’s simple name is Drummer, loves the theatrical aspect.
“I like the fact that you can go watch another band in town, any of them,” Cowles said. “But, we play really good music and you get to come see a show. Like Ryan was saying, we’re theatrical, we put on a show. We show up in character. When we go and set up our gear, we all go out, we have the band ritual that we do, we put on the gear, we walk into the bar together in costume and now the show’s on.”
Baker loves the changing sets, because it means they don’t grow tired of playing certain songs. They also discover other songs they like.
“We’ll do new ones and figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” Baker said. “I really like having that be part of it. It’s cool to play new songs every other month.”
This Way Out doesn’t play often, but when they do, it’s all for fun and the love of music.
“We’re trying to bring these ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s hits out to people who may not have heard them before,” Baker said. “Maybe they’re a younger audience, maybe they grew up with this stuff. I think everybody has something they can take from it.”
Aaron Vessey plays bass and his character is Lowend Leon. He explained how their preference might not matter if the crowd loves a song.
“You could play the crappiest song you think is crappy, or it’s not fun to do or something, but once you play that song and the crowd reacts to it?” Baker said. “It really doesn’t matter what song you’re playing as long as the crowd reacts and they have a good time.”
One of those songs was The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.”
In fact, playing the songs he doesn’t really play is his favorite. Vessey was referring to deep cuts.
“And you go back to the ‘80s, go back to the ‘90s, it’s something you’ve heard on a radio, but you’re like ‘Oh, we’re actually gonna play that, let’s try it. Let’s see how the crowd reacts,’” Vessey said. “And then you play it and it’s either a ‘Boo’ or a ‘that was awesome!’ And everybody’s dancing, everybody’s up.”
Cowles provided an example.
“What was that one we did?” Cowles asked his bandmates. “’Big Bottom’ by Spinal Tap? We’ve done some songs you won’t hear other people do.”
Cowles is happy to share This Way Out with Baker, Vessey and Nick Valentine, the band’s guitarist who’s so good he “shreds” on the electric ax.
“I’ve been fortunate, like super lucky with the guys in the band,” Cowles said. “We’ve had a few people come and go. As they come and go they always get replaced with somebody better. These guys push me so fricken’ hard. It’s a good time though. Once a week we get together and we practice and practice hard. We don’t have our buddies hang out with us at practice. It’s just us there and we practice.”
Baker said the band takes on a lot and how it’s advancing.
“We’re trying to move it to a craft where, as we have the new lineup come in, like we just got a new guitar player and we kind of changed gears to go to more shred style, more metal,” Baker said. “We added a lot of Ozzy Osbourne and that’s what he grew up with.”
Valentine’s character is Nick-fil-A. It sounds like This Way Out is lucky to have the metal guitarist.
“He’s a great renaissance player,” Baker said. “He can play everything but like it’s really tasked us as musicians to be like ‘step it up a notch,’ because he’s sort of the taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he’s the bandleader but he brings a new revitalization with like ‘let’s get this part right, let’s try to get this the way it is on the album.’”
It sort of sounds like the scene in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” when Freddie Mercury is asking for Roger Taylor to sing the lyric “Galileo” better while the band’s recording the song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and so Roger Taylor asks “How many Galileos do you need?”
While the band does definitely play certain parts of songs the way they should be, Cowles explained when those parts are.
“(Valentine) will call out iconic spots,” Cowles said. “If this is an iconic spot (in the song) then this has to be right. Some songs you’ll make your own version of it. But, he expects you to learn that part. He won’t let you take shortcuts. You’re gonna learn that part.”
Baker is stoked to play with Valentine.
“He’s a phenom as far as guitar players go,” Baker said. “He really brings it together and he’s added a new level of ‘this is awesome.’”
While This Way Out will play anywhere, they love playing at Ashley’s Pub Haus — 710 J St., in Hoquiam — and the Pine Tree Bar and Grill — 101 W. Ocean Ave., in Westport. And it was clear Tuesday night they have a strong rapport. They seemed like they had been friends for many years.
To see This Way Out next, head out to Ashley’s Pub Haus on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m., because the guys are ready to melt faces and bring their showmanship to anybody who’s woken up from their turkey coma.
Here are a few of the live music options this weekend:
Friday, Nov. 17
8 p.m. — Jon Reynolds — Gepetto’s Italian Restaurant & Sports Bar — 126 Pioneer Ave. E., in Montesano
Saturday, Nov. 18
7 p.m. — Ted Vigil (A Tribute to John Denver) — 7th Street Theatre — 313 7th St., in Hoquiam
8 p.m. — Ms. Maki & Co. — Ashley’s Pub Haus — 710 J St., in Hoquiam
Sunday, Nov. 19
2 p.m. — Sean Curkendall — Ashley’s Pub Haus