Sometimes a band makes such an impact that we have to interview them twice. Such is the case with Safetysuit. With Doug Brown on lead vocals, Dave Garofalo on guitar, Jeremy Henshaw on bass, and Tate Cunningham on drums, Safetysuit’s debut album “Life Left to Go” was released in May and they’ve been on the road 24/7 since then bringing their brand of infectious, melodic charm to music and lyrics we can all relate to. While the cd is a winner from start to finish, where it’s really easy to fall in love with this band is their live performances. On the stage this band lights up and knows how to win over a crowd with their energy and the chemistry that can only come from a band who loves what they are doing.
Currently out on tour with Seether, the band is definitely getting a chance to introduce themselves to a diverse group of music fans from coast to coast. The band recently wrapped up filming a brand new video for “Someone Like You”, which will debut soon on VH1. Lead singer Doug Brown says the song was written for the underdog…and hey..who doesn’t want to root for the underdog.
With their album out a few months, TWRY Stacie took to the streets of Providence, RI to sit down with the band to talk to them about the album, the band, and …Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | July 2008
Since the album was released in May, what has been the most exciting thing that you’ve experienced as a band?
Doug: I have one! Honestly there has been a lot for me. One of the most exciting things is going to a place that we had never been to before. For example Boise, Idaho; we’d never been there. We go there and there are people singing the words, not just to the single on the radio, but to the random songs on the album too. Being able to connect with them in that way and then seeing them after the show and hearing “I love the CD it hasn’t left my CD player.” This is our passion this is what we love to do, so when someone links into that it’s like your meeting. Not to be totally sappy here but that’s been really exciting.
That could have been me saying that… Your single “Someone Like You” has hit #17 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks, that has to be a pretty good feeling for you? Do you remember where you were the first time you heard the single on the radio?
Doug: I remember a couple different times, that all feel like the first time. We were in Nashville and it was going to spin on a local show, and they told us. I was driving home and I knew to turn on the station. That was cool because we heard it, but we knew we were going to hear it. Another time in Nashville I just happened to hear it in the car. It’s a weird feeling. I think it really hit me when… once we were in Tulsa, when we lived in Tulsa, I remember hearing it there. But, I think what was the weirdest was when we were in Florida, when we were going out with your cousin… we jumped in the car, and here we are in Florida, and she was just flipping through the stations, left it on a station, there was some other random song on and then our song! I remember being in the car thinking “who is this?” and it took me the first few seconds to figure it out. Then it hit me! So to be in a city that isn’t your own and hear it is when it really clicks. It’s really happening.
We know that “Life Left To Go” has gotten a lot of attention since it is the album’s namesake. You’ve said that music is ego-centric and you wanted to flip that. Can you explain to us why this song is so important to you?
Doug: “Life Left to Go” is important for multiple reasons. It deals with suicide. It’s a heavy topic. There are a lot of problems in life, and a lot of really bad things that happen to people, but there isn’t anything worth ending your life over. We wanted to write a song that would speak to someone who was dealing with those things. Try to speak to them, where they are at, and not offer this grand explanation as to how life is going to get better, but just say “hold on” you know, there is more of life left to go, and that there is something around the corner if you just believe. This is why we titled the record that so that it can get out and we can talk about it in interviews like this. Where we can say “Listen, no one is trying to say life is perfect, but life in and of itself is great, and you shouldn’t give that up for anything… so just hold on. If you can, you’ll see some really wonderful things once you turn that corner.
Safetysuit – Photo by: Stacie
Every song on the album has a great message, while I had a hard time determining what songs I was going to ask you about, I settled on “Down”. We’ve all been in those relationships, be it personal or familiar, where we’ve felt not good enough. How did this song come about… what inspired it?
Jeremy: That’s actually the first song we ever played as a band. First song! We weren’t even really a band, we were just friends messing around as friend and decided to enter this battle of the bands competition and this was the first song we played for anybody…ever!
Doug: Down was just a song that came about in my early early song writing days, which is why we hate it so much. (laughter)
Tate: It predated the band!
Doug:It was just a song. I remember very clearly my older brother was basically head over heels in love with this girl and everything went so far as to the solidifying the relationship. They talked and I think he thought it was a lot more than it was, because then all of a sudden it was just over. He was devastated. I remember just thinking; because you know it’s all so easy to analyze from the outside; “Yeah it sucks, but it’s not he end of the world”. You know, don’t let it keep you “Down”. So that’s what the whole songs sort of spun off of, it just kind of talks to the person. People like me, I’m very outspoken, I can articulate what I’m feeling very easily. People like my brother, they can’t, they can be right in that moment and they can’t say it. To give a song to somebody so when they can’t say it can *mimics tossing CD down* “That’s how I feel!” … and that is what we try to do in all of our songs, to give a voice to someone who couldn’t come out and just say it. “Was I not good enough for you?!” Smack!
Tell us how you each became musicians, did music run in your family or was it something you sought out on your own? How did you become the musicians you are today?
Doug: We’re still trying to become musicians.
Tate: I came out of my mother a musician. I’ve always wanted to play music as long as I can remember.
Doug: Tate’s been drumming since he was in the uterus! My dad was just a total rocker. He’s a banker but at heart he’s a guitar player. I used to fall asleep to him playing over the Allman Brothers or the Eagles down in the basement. I was just always surrounded by it. I didn’t really catch an interest in songwriting or playing music for real till I was like 16 or 17 years old. I wasn’t like Tate, I was enthralled in sports for most of my life. I just caught a love. I think the first time I really got excited was when I played someone something that I wrote and they said something like “I totally feel that way!” and I thought “Wow! I’d like to do that again!” ‘I’d like to hear somebody say that to me one more time!”
Dave: Well, for me it’s been a pretty much all my life thing. I think I saw Slash from Guns N Roses on video playing and I though “I want to do that!” I got my first guitar when I was 13 or 14 and I would stand for six hours through out the day in front of a mirror, not plugged in, cassette headphones on, just playing and dancing… as it developed more I’d be in my room sometimes eight hours out of the day or through the night. My mom would come up yelling because I’d be waking her up at 3 in the morning with my guitar just playing. It was the match that became the forest fire.
Doug: Oh, I like that Dave! I’m going to have to use that “The match..”
I hear you just finished wrapping up the video shoot for Someone Like You last week. Can you tell us a bit about what the video will entail and how the shoot went?
Doug: It’s going to entail AWESOMENESS. Start to finish. Ahhh, It’s “Someone Like You”, and “Someone Like You” is written for the underdog. So the video focuses on, the theme. I won’t give too much away – empowerment, making the listener feel like “yeah, I can do this!” There are a couple of scenarios and scenes that walk through the video that show that spirit of “I can do it!” Now, hopefully when listeners, now viewers watch it they’ll get that feeling after seeing that visualization. Become strong enough.
Now will it be blasted out there, or is being release privately or…
Doug: We go to NY on Wednesday to VH1 and they’re going to be a big player in that, and we’ll see what kind of relationship blooms with it. We have a lot of high hopes for it.
Doug, we know on days off you like to unwind with a round of golf, what about he rest of you? How do you unwind on your days off? (Which looking at your schedule seem to be very rare!!)
Dave: Yes! Many rounds!
Doug: Tate, what do you do?
Tate: I like doing programming and working on my rig in my little studio at home. But, recently I’ve had this new found love for fishing!
Did you go fishing today?
Tate: I didn’t! I do however have a really nice travel rod on order. I’m from Oklahoma so I grew up on a farm, fished my whole life. Then I went to school and just got away from it for years. One of our sound guys and I recently went fishing together and it just sort of sparked a rebirth.
Dave: It was the match the became the forest fire!
Tate: Exactly! *laughter*
Let’s get to know each of you a little better, what is one random thing about you that most people might not know?
Doug: You know we should find an answer for this, we’ve been asked this question before and all of a sudden it’s like “What should I say?!”
Tate: I don’t think it’s that we can’t think of something though, it’s like “What thing do I pick?”
Doug: I’m like pretty much OCD.
Tate: That is very true he IS OCD.
Doug: I like to have things in order.
Tate: He makes checklists!
Doug: For instance, I have a backpack, said backpack has many a zipper and compartments. I could, with my eyes, closed grab anything in that bag! I know where every single thing in that bag is because everything has a place. Jeremy might ask me for a converter, and I just need to know where the bag is. Beyond that (points to the table) THAT kind of bothers me. This should be here (straightens out a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper) this should be gone, and this should be even with that. (Takes plastic six pack holder off a single vitamin water and straitens out cups on the TV tray table.) Now Jeremy, being Jeremy, would immediately come over and do that! (hits 12 pack of soda and messes table up again)
Jeremy: No! I’d wait till he left the room!
So if he straightens out the bottles on the shelf with the labels all facing out would you go and turn them just to …
Jeremy: I’d do it when he left so when he came back he’d find them all turned.
Doug: I used to work at a place, and my buddy Brandon would come over to my desk and he would pretend he was talking to me and push my computer over a little bit, drag the cord out in front, and I’d be like “Gah, Why?! Now I have to fix it!!”
Dave: That’s hysterical! I love to read. Love it! I do!
Are you a word nerd?
Dave: No, well kinda.
Tate: Dave loves to read more than play music!
Dave: The things is, is that I’m the most hyper member of the band I think… the most Michelangelo-esque!
Doug: That’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reference… not the painter!
Oh… I was kinda like Michelangelo was hyper?! I should have gotten that.
Doug: He was hyper while painting the Sistine Chapel?
Dave: I’m really hyper, but then when there is time off I’m quiet.
Tate: Jeremy, what is your random thing?
Jeremy: I don’t know! I’ve been trying to think of something. I’m a cabinet maker.
Dave: Something random about Jeremy is he creates a hunger in his clients. He has all these motivational things that he puts up in his room just keep himself motivated.
Doug: He makes promotional videos for companies. That’s a pretty random thing! Yes?
Sure! You are out on this summer tour with Seether, how is it going so far (we know it’s only been a few dates) and have you learned anything touring with seasoned veterans such as them? They seem to be the kings of non-stop touring.
Doug: They are really nice guys first of all. They are really professional.
Jeremy: Very professional!
Dave: It’s wonderful working with them, because a lot of time when you aren’t working with someone at that level you don’t get that kind of professionalism. So it’s refreshing for us to work with someone who really knows what they’re doing and their on their feet.
Doug: Theory of a Deadman was like that too though.
Can you tell us the significance of the album cover art?
Doug: The theme was “sink or swim” if I remember correctly.
Dave” Like a car crash goes over.
Tate: We were kind of visualizing that moment when you are in a car crash and you go off the bridge into water and there is that moment where you either need to start finding your way to the top or it’s going to take you under. So it’s kind of that decision making point.
Doug: If you listen to all the songs there’s a common thread and that is to just keep going. I think we’ve all had an experience with at least one person that is very dear to us where they just want to give up and that is terrible. Sometimes it’s over something legitimate, like a legitimate depression, and other times it’s over a relationship and something that went wrong. To see people at that point, it just takes the life out of you. We don’t want to paint the picture that life is always great, but we do want to say that there is always hope if you want to see it.
Tate: There is always going to be another day that you can wake up and choose what you are going to do with that.
In closing, we’re trying to make the perfect summer “mix tape”, I’d like each of you to tell me what song you would add to it – what are your favorite summer songs?
Doug: “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay!
Dave: MXPX – “Move to Bremerton”
Tate: Your Vegas – “In My Head”
Jeremy: When I think of summer I think of driving with all the windows down, wind blowing and just drive and drive. Hey! That can be my random thing! I love to drive!! Drive and think and get your head clear. There is a song on a soundtrack… It’s called “Finale” off the soundtrack for the movie “The Kingdom” by Danny Elfman. I would just drive around and blast that thing! …and that would be awesome!