Exclusive: interview with The Safety Fire
The Safety Fire released their debut full-length album 'Grind the Ocean' exclusively as part of the preorder this week. It will be released officially on April 9th/10th for the UK and US market respectively, via Inside Out Music.
We had a chat with vocalist Sean McWeeney, guitarist Derya "Dez" Nagle and bassist Lori Peri. Read the full exclusive interview below!
The Safety Fire. From left to right: Jo (guitar), Lori (bass), Sean (vocals), Calvin (drums) and Dez (guitar).
got-djent.com: For those who haven't heard about you - could you just quickly introduce yourselves as a band? Who are The Safety Fire, in a nutshell?
Lori: We're a progressive metal band from London. We've been together since school and have developed our music since then and love to play together.
got-djent.com: You've been interviewed by got-djent.com before in August 2010, where you said that «Grind The Ocean» would be coming out, «by the end of the year if not next year». So obviously that didn't work out – can you tell us about the process from that interview back then to where we stand today?
Dez: I think we were just finishing off the actual recording of the album and it was just being mastered by Jens Bogren. Well, since then we've been forming the kind of team that we work with now and the process went quite well, we talked to quite a few different labels over several months and between ourselves until we felt we found a suitable match for what we were doing. It went quite well to actually come about, because we wanted it to get out as soon as we'd finished it, but that didn't necessarily make the most sense in terms of the business side of things.
Sean: Yeah, you only get to release a debut album once, and how it comes out is very important, so we just wanted to make sure it was in the best possible environment for us.
got-djent.com: This also means that the tunes on «Grind The Ocean» are now fairly old already. Can you confirm our hope that this means you have a lot of new tracks in your backhand, and that the wait for the next release won't be that long?
Dez: Yeah, we've been writing since we've finished the album. And with all the business and other things in place, every album from here on will have a process which is a lot more fluent in terms of delivery.
got-djent.com: And in what direction does that new material go then?
Lori: I think it will be a logical continuation of where we left off with «Grind The Ocean», which people will be hearing in the next few weeks – which is really exciting for us, we can't wait for people to actually hear what we've done! I don't know, it's difficult, because we haven't completely finished the next album, but the songs that we have started writing for the next album are kind of close to the songs that we wrote near the ending sessions of «Grind The Ocean», so in the direction of «Animal King» and «Circassian Beauties».
got-djent.com: Dez, a question for you as the writer of the band. For some reason, you have accomplished to write music that belongs to the momentary flow of modern metal music, but at the same time it sounds incredibly original and autonomous. Are you resistant to outside influences?
Dez: I wouldn't really say that – I just have my own influences, formed in a different kind of way than others might have them. It's the way those influences are expressed and arranged, more so than not wanting to be influenced by something else. Next to that, there are also other kinds of influences I draw from. Even though I am a massive fan of different kinds of metal, from progressive metal to technical death metal, I am also influenced by electro, ambient music, as well as pop music and everything else in-between. It's not influence A in one section to influence B in another section of the songs, it's just how you bring all of those influences into one arrangement, as it were.
Sean: Yeah, I'd say that the fact that Dez, as a songwriter, has so many influences that aren't metal, makes it seem even more original in the context of being metal.
got-djent.com: If I'm not completely mistaken, your last serious bit of Europe touring was with Monuments and Periphery, which was the first real big European tour as well, if I'm correct?
Lori: Yes, that was our first European tour. We have been on the road with Rise To Remain and Bleed From Within last September, but that was "only" a UK tour.
got-djent.com: So, you did this UK tour, then you played Sonisphere and now the next endeavour is nothing short of a full-blown US tour with Protest The Hero and Periphery. That's quite good for a band that hasn't even released an album yet!
Sean: Yeah, I'd say it's quite a large step up both in scale and capacity of the venues, but I think we developed so much in our live shows since, so we're confident! So it's not just going on the road and getting some live experience, which makes it not daunting; it's just exciting, it's just something we feel ready for and it's the right move to make at this moment, especially with the bands we're going out with. It's just such an incredible line-up to be part of, so it's fantastic.
got-djent.com: Will you profit of another band who might get like, a nightliner bus, or will you be driving a van instead?
Lori: I think we will be cycling on bikes if you're lucky enough, haha! No, in all seriousness, we are still working on tour logistics for the moment, but it will be the cheapest option.
got-djent.com: So, if you are cycling that will make for a good tour diary for sure.
Dez: (laughter) Yeah, and a powerful one for sure!
Sean: (laughter) Haha, yeah I guess, but then again, that would also be a very small tour then!
got-djent.com: One thing that strikes me is as far as one is able to track back your history, you've always done the full coverage of what you do, with great studio reports and everything almost from day one. Would you agree to the fact that you're a 100% self-made band?
Sean: Yeah, I think in many ways we are. We do our own recording, the albums are being recorded by Dez, and we do lots of the stuff like on-line teasers. In that sense all the content that we've put out is 100% done by us, but there are still other of people behind us; we've got management behind us and now we've got a label behind us as well, so in that sense we do have support from other people as well, although I'd say that all the content is from us indeed.
Dez: Yeah, I think we like to maintain a certain level of quality control in everything we put out as well, just because we feel it gives a bare representation of the band in general. So we tried to have everything quite top-notch at the beginning, and I think it's something we've always strived to do, we don't want to pull out just anything.
Lori: Yeah, the only thing I can really add is that when we really do have outside help with things, like the artwork for example, which was done by Kim Tyler from Puppydust, then we actually chose it specifically. It was something that we felt we needed to outsource because of what he could add to it, by bringing in another dimension to the band with his artwork.
Sean: So many bands have been doing this, and I would also suggest it: do everything you can yourself and for what you can't do to get a good person to do it for you.
got-djent.com: If we stay on the advice side, as a band that made such a huge step up within this short timespan, what would you say are the worst "death traps" for young and growing bands?
Dez: I think giving stuff out too early is a mistake that quite a few bands make. The new band of Despised Icon's singer is a very good example of how a band should go about this. They had their initial campaign with the music, the logo, a full blown music video, professional photos and a really good website to launch with, and I think that is the way to go. Chances that you will stick with your viewers' or listeners' brains are much higher this way.
Lori: I completely agree. How often do you see bands putting up that they need two more guitarists, a bass player, a drummer… And then still put out a demo. I'm just not going to listen to the clip, realistically. There's a lot of good stuff out there, but I do like to hear the complete product. I'm more likely to keep going back and get excited about it, if it's something that really makes an impact on me.
Sean: There's so much music out there at the moment that you really have to create a reason for people to stop and actually listen. Whether that's through videos or artwork, there has to be something that grabs the listener to actually make them listen in the first place.
Cover art for the «Grind The Ocean».
got-djent.com: Staying with the business, "non-musical" side of the band: was there any specific reason why you got a contract with the label Inside Out, the subsidiary label of Century Media, rather than with CM itself, who have recently signed Vildhjarta and the like?
Sean: Inside Out have got a tradition of signing prog acts, not necessarily metal acts, but just progressive music in general. That's what we appreciated about the record label, and that was a big reason for us to work with them; just for that strong prog tradition.
Dez: Basically, Inside Out gives us our own reign to create our own image that we want to create, unlike other labels that have for instance a strong history only within metal. I think for us, it allows us to create our own image instead of people making their minds up already before hearing us.
got-djent.com: Being got-djent.com, there is one question we have to ask, of course: do you, The Safety Fire, as you are today, consider yourselves part of the djent scene?
Lori: The thing is, I think a lot of people would call us djent. We call ourselves progressive metal, but with a lot of the djent bands they see themselves as progressive metal. Classifying any band that does the kind of music we do into specific categories is really difficult to do anyway. We embrace the term if people want to call us that, but we do not see ourselves as djent. It's a great community with some great bands, so it's just all good, really.
Dez: What Lori said pretty much covers it. A lot of bands always try to say "we're not djent", but it's more the community of fans that decides whether you're a part of it or not; and if people within the djent community like our music, we're not going to turn around and say "no, we're not djent". They can call us that, but we don't necessarily have to classify our music that way.
got-djent.com: You are a London-based band, and if you look what is happening all around you with all of the bands like Monuments and TesseracT and Chimp Spanner, it's like one big link between the bands in terms of their members. How close do you consider yourselves to these bands and their local legacy?
Sean: We all developed around the same sort of time, we've toured with Monuments and we are friendly with some of the guys in TesseracT as well, so naturally we know each other and we've gone out for drinks with each other. We sort of know each other well in that sense.
Lori: It's a great time to be part of this vibrant, UK, progressive, technical metal scene. It's been our great tradition for some time, looking back on bands like SikTh. Now we've got Monuments, TesseracT, Chimp Spanner, us, and I'm sure there's going to be a hell of a lot of other bands like The HAARP Machine that are really going to push through this year. It's a really exciting time; a lot of us know each other and it just creates an atmosphere of people who want to keep moving forward because you see somebody else doing well and you think "I want that too". It's just loads of fun, really. It's really cool.
got-djent.com: OK, so let me throw the track names of «Grind The Ocean» at you, and I ask you to define the tracks in just a few words.
got-djent.com: The first track of the album is called «Huge Hammers».
Sean: First punch.
Dez: Straight punch to the jaw.
got-djent.com: The next song is called «Floods of Colour».
Dez: «Floods of Colour» is showing a different side of our music, which is kind of more maniacal and fast-paced than our usual kind of stylings.
got-djent.com: «DMP (FDP)»?
Lori: Just for the record it's 'DMB'. I think 'FDP'. That's it. 'DMB' is 'FDP'.
Sean: Yeah, we've seen DMP all over the internet. It's gone across everywhere. But it is 'DMB'.
got-djent.com: Track number four is called «Anomalous Materials».
Sean: That's just an interlude. A musical sorbet. As an in-between-courses-in-a-meal sorbet. To cleanse the palate.
got-djent.com: The next song is called «Animal King», containing one of the greatest guitar solos in a while.
Dez: «Animal King» is Tonk Craig David.
got-djent.com: Next one is «Circassian Beauties»?
Lori: Insight into Sean's love life.
got-djent.com: Next up is «Sections».
Sean: TSF classic. It's bloody tidy, isn't it?
Dez: Now that's what I call TSF!
got-djent.com: The next one is «Seagraves».
Dez: Prelude to the end of the world.
got-djent.com: And the last one, the title track, «Grind the Ocean»?
Lori: Let's do this one together guys. I'd say it's kind of—
Sean: The epic final piece to the album.
Dez: I think it's kind of like an opus, if that's the word I'm looking for. Definitely for this album, It's why it's called that, because I think it engages all of the different styles and multifaceted areas of our music into one song.
The Safety Fire on stage.
got-djent.com: And in general, the band «The Safety Fire»?
Dez: Open-minded musical progression.
Sean: Brutally flowery.
Dez: Brutally flowery paisley-coloured purple beautifulness.
Lori: «Grind the Ocean» is our «Purple Rain», basically.