Monday, August 01, 2022

Friendly Exhortations: Long Way, "We Got a Long Way to Go…"

Long Way, We Got a Long Way to Go… demo cassette (self-released, 1999)

This is a seven-song demo tape from a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based pop punk band called Long Way. Recorded March 24 and 26, 1999, the songs were performed by a four piece made up of Vinicius (guitar and vocals), Marcos (drums), Edson (guitar), and Claudio (bass and vocals)—and written collectively.

Sung in English, the music is high-energy pop punk that reminds me of melodic Dischord-style hardcore—the vocals occasionally bring Minor Threat or Seven Seconds to mind—and California pop punk, with simple, single-note guitar solos along the lines of Screeching Weasel. 

The handwritten insert offers lyrics in English and Portuguese, as well as several friendly exhortations such as “Read zines”—calling out the Brazilian zines Enizzine and No Fun Zine—“Go to shows,” “No violence at shows! Pogo happily to the sound of the Long Way,” and  “Any form of prejudice, whether racial, social, sexual, to different people—all prejudice—is shit.” Liner note marginalia also says, “Lyrics and vocals by their respective authors,” “Society often tries to reduce us to a simple number: a CPF, a grade at school, a paycheck, a statistic. Value yourself; don't lose sensitivity. Be human and be happy!” and “Booklet by Vinicius Mitchell, Rio de Janeiro, 1999.” Almost 25 years after this demo came out, I reached out to a Brazilian illustrator and comics artist named Vinicius Mitchell to see if they’re the same person. We shall see!

Long Way offers an energetic, friendly approach to pop punk, with tuneful songs, solid choruses—particularly on “Don’t Judge Me” and “Hopeless”—and largely positive lyrics. I can only imagine the local scene in Rio de Janeiro at the time; Long Way would have fit easily onto the bill for many shows I’ve gone to over the years in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New York City, and now Los Angeles. I would have loved to see them live. Additional bands (Freakanoise, Dirty Shoes, YAWL, New Born Generation, Speak Clear, PPZ, and Surface—assuming they’re all bands) and zines (Trapilho, PV, and AFL) are listed in the thank you section.

Song lyrics address topics including living life to the fullest; individualism; making choices; the 1970s Mexican situation comedy El Chavo del Ocho, which was dubbed in Brazilian Portuguese in the 1980s; hopelessness; conformity; and challenging relationships. Despite some sense of concern or complaint in some of the songs, the tenor overall is one of hope and optimism. By finding our own way in life and developing a strong sense of self, we can overcome day-to-day challenges and problems.

The seven songs are recorded on one side of a tape. When the songs end, there’s little one can do but rewind and listen to them again. Seven solid songs! I wonder whether the band recorded anything else—and what’s happened to everyone since this demo was released. I hope they’re all doing well. I’ve enjoyed revisiting this demo.

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