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One Way Out Speaks Freedom in Black Lungs (and a Broken Heart)

by Daniel Warren Hill

Photo by Carter Louthian

My first introduction to One Way Out was as an open-mic host at Villain and Saint in Bethesda, MD, which closed its doors on September 30, 2019. That would mean I had the pleasure of catching their music careers beginning to develop at the ground floor, before many of them had turned eighteen, similar to my exposure to Southern Maryland rockers Flippin’ Eyelids. Today’s young rock bands have a leg-up on previous generations in that their parents have been watching a two-decade or longer restructuring of the music business, which has yet to settle into its ‘final’ form. The family units that manage these young artists and develop them into career minded individuals are much more aware of their intellectual property, and the ability to harness the various benefits that technology and connectedness afford. 

They aren’t waiting to be signed. They are not waiting to be discovered. They are putting in the legwork and gaining crucial industry experience along the way, establishing their destinations on their journey as lifelong independent musicians. One Way Out is one such band, having released their latest single “Black Lungs (and a Broken Heart),” on January 1, 2021. The track was recorded at Capitol Hill’s Ivakota studios with engineer and producer Ben Green (Fairweather), with whom the band worked with for their 2019 full-length album Cosmic Beat, which earned their nomination for Best Hard Rock Album in the 2020 Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards).

The band formed all the way back in 2012 with Josh Gaba (Lead Vocals), Jake Schaefer (Lead Guitar), and Giulio Iacoviello (Bass Guitar) being the three remaining original members. After a year, Geist Topping took over as the drummer, and in 2015, Ari Rubenstein (Keyboard) joined the group. Since their debut 2018 EP Black & White, One Way Out has consistently been releasing music that has paid homage to 60’s and 70’s rock influences simultaneously alongside modern hard rock, metal and jazz influences. The band praises bands like The Doors and Led Zeppelin as primary sources of inspiration, and they have an intricate plot line and lyrical narrative for a character they developed called “Freedom Man,” a nod to fictional characters appearing in music such as the David Bowie character Ziggy Stardust. The resulting sound that might reflect One Way Out the most would be Buckcherry, with whom both bands share a common influence in The Eagles. The band also takes on the aggression of punk emanating from the local DC scene and the philosophies of current acts, such as The Murlocs, Oh Sees and Tame Impala.

“Black Lungs (and a Broken Heart)” is the story of Freedom Man’s arrival on Earth in search of love, and spawning “mass euphoria and large groups gathered to listen to live music” — a timely message when the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented just that. The maxim “I came to speak the truth — freedom to the youth” during the bridge encapsulates the optimistic energy and rock n’ roll ethos conveyed. The story is established not just lyrically, but sonically as well. “There were a couple of hours we spent in the studio just making sounds with a screwdriver on a guitar and messing around with a theremin,” recalls guitarist Jake Schaefer. These sounds can be heard in the intro and throughout the song, emulating the noise and chaos of a crash landing.

One Way Out fans are hoping to learn the fate of Freedom Man in future releases. At present, the band is most likely hoping that their single “Black Walls,” released February of last year, will secure them this year’s Wammie Award for Best Hard Rock Song of 2020. Regardless, One Way Out are committed to continuing to release more award-worthy music throughout their journey, and we are just glad to have the chance to share it with them, and with you.

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Daniel Warren Hill

Daniel Warren Hill is an American musician, writer, and motivational speaker. He is best known as the frontman for Washington DC area Alternative Rock band YellowTieGuy, as co-founder of Capitol Groove Collective, and increasing the exposure of artists on a global scale through his work with Alchemical Records. 

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