Safetysuit's vocalist and guitarist Douglas Brown laughs as he recounts how the band first came together: "We just started playing a couple of years ago for fun. Then we performed at a battle of the b
Safetysuit's vocalist and guitarist Douglas Brown laughs as he recounts how the band first came together: "We just started playing a couple of years ago for fun. Then we performed at a battle of the bands and won."
It's this fun-loving, carefree mentality that has defined the band's presence in today's rock arena. Safetysuit's debut album, "Life Left To Go," (Universal Motown) is a solid representation of today's safe alt-rock -- their name, a nod toward that ideology. And with their penchant for simple, catchy melodies and memorable lyrics ("And if I could stay with someone like you/Would you, would you be strong enough for me?") the band has carved their niche by perfecting a radio-friendly amalgam of rock and pop which sent their first single, "Someone Like You," to a No. 17 peak on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks Chart this summer.
The band kicked off their musical career just three years ago in Tulsa, Okla. Long-time friends Brown, bassist Jeremy Henshaw and drummer Tate Cunningham, along with two other musicians, teamed up as Crew. Later, guitarist Dave Garofolo joined, other members exited and the remainders make up what Safetysuit is today.
It was only 2005 when the band moved from Tulsa to Nashville, Tenn., "to think, to grow and most importantly, focus." They enlisted the help of renowned producer Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, Buckcherry) to record the group's debut EP. "Archilla is a true professional. He's got all the makings of a superstar producer," Brown says, joking, "he hasn't introduced me to Rob Thomas yet. I'm still waiting!"
When the group began performing, "no one came [to the shows] at first, but we started playing for a lot of high school kids," says Brown. "They really know how to spread the word."
And spread the word they did. As part of their grassroots promotional efforts, the band did a residency at Nashville venue 12th and Porter and diligently played at dive bars and clubs before they began selling out venues. "It's amazing when you go and play and have people showing up and singing along," Brown says, "There are people singing along in places we've never been before."
And, he explains, the band doesn't intend on stopping anytime soon -- Safetysuit is looking forward to touring through 2009. "We try to make our live shows an experience. We have a lot of energy, and we know the fans don't just want to hear the record -- they want to hear you play," Brown says.
Eventually, the band learned the ropes doing just that: performing non-stop. After dropping their former moniker and signing to Universal, they've played on bills with bands like Seether, Staind, 3 Doors Down and served as main tour support for Theory of A Deadman's April tour. Momentum from "Someone Like You" on mainstream radio is steadily growing. The trackc currently sits at No. 35 with a bullet on Billboard's Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks Chart.
But having radio success isn't a sour point for Safetysuit, unlike many bands that stray from the mainstream limelight. He reminisces on the time when, driving down long stretches of road on tour, the band first heard "Someone Like You" on the airwaves. "It's surreal," he says, "Especially when you're flipping through, just driving along. It's really cool."
Well aware of today's more obscure rock scene, Brown says Safetysuit doesn't spend time deliberately crafting depth and focusing on edginess. The focus, he explains, is on writing meaningful songs for their fans. "A lot of bands spend time on, 'Let's make sure we are or aren't this way or that way'. But we just think, 'can we make the best song that we know how to make?"
Then, proving Safetysuit's proclivity for humor and simplicity, Brown adds, "We don't write songs about trees and grass that you find out later are [secretly] about Communist Russia, you know?"
It's this clarity, this focus on the listener, that is inviting "Someone Like You" to take residency on the charts. "Overall, if you're having a bad day," Brown says, still battling with the crackling wind, "and this album makes you feel better -- if we can do this as writers, as a band, then we've done something pretty special."