Any band in Tacoma, Tulsa or Tallahassee has to do one thing. Get out of town. The band could be local favorites but that doesn't count for much. Bands have to go where they can get noticed. The usually destinations are either New York or L.A. But Tulsa's SafetySuit chose Music City-Nashville.
Starting as Crew, the group that had SafetySuit's line-up sans Dave Garofalo entered a local talent show at the last minute. They won and soon became a big draw. Make or break time came and the group lit out for Nashville. After a chance meeting with producer Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, Buckcherry) they recorded an EP with him in '05.
Countless bands have played showcase performances for major label reps and totally tanked. Nerves, trying too hard or just an off night, those can be critical missed opportunities. Just the opposite happened for SafetySuit.
"Actually, the best show we ever did was at 12th and Porter, and it was the night Universal showed up," said Douglas Brown. "Everyone brought everyone that night. Twenty minutes before the show, somebody came into the green room and announced there was a line around the block."
Duly impressed, Universal inked a deal and the search began for a "name" producer. Interestingly, the process led back to Archilla. "We're stubborn," said Brown. "We like Greg. He doesn't mess around, he tells it like it is."
Full-length debut "Life Left To Go" landed in '08. The title track, a song about suicide, though deemed un-commercial by the band, was an important statement. "That song is a big deal for us," said Brown. "I don't want to wave any sort of flag, but the focus on music is always so ego-centric. We wanted to flip that. I wanted this to be a song about the artist giving for a change."
Fortunately, there were other songs that clicked with the public. "Someone Like You" peaked at #15 on the Alternative Rock chart and crossed over to Top 40 and Hot AC. And "Stay" went to #1 on VH1's Top 20 Countdown.
SafetySuit began work on their sophomore album in '10. Not satisfied with the results, the tracks were scrapped. Fortunately, starting over again produced the desired results.
"These Times" was initially scheduled for a November, '11 release. But that got pushed back to January, '12, with an exclusive release through iTunes. The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and at #1 on the iTunes Top Albums chart. Also, the video for "Let Go" peaked at #8 on VH1's 2011 year-end Top 20 Countdown. The song didn't do as good as "Stay" but it was still respectable.
2008 Life Left To Go
2012 These Times
SafetySuit's strong pop sensibilities shine brightly on "Life Left To Go." The ballads range from serviceable to fairly good ("Anywhere But Here"). But picking up the tempo, SafetySuit has more hits than misses.
"Someone Like You" is the big pop song and "Annie" serves as the arena ballad - much needed since SafetySuit has opened for 3 Doors Down and Seether. "The Moment" lets the group fly and is a pretty good Rock song. "Stay" is a perfect blend of angst and yearning while "Down" flashes hooky guitar licks.
'More of the same' is the best way to describe "These Times." The title track ("seen despair from the inside"), "Get Around This" ("stay on the shore side") and "Let Go" are the most obvious examples. Set opener, "Believe," sounds like a U2 tribute band trying to write their own material. At least they picked a great template to copy. While "Believe" almost cuts it, the uptempo "Crash" and the startlingly economical "Things To Say" actually do.