Known for their songs “Stay,” “Get Around This,” and “Let Go,” Nashville-based pop rock band SafetySuit kicked off their current headlining tour last month in Philadelphia, in support of their latest record, These Times.
Prior to hitting the stage this past weekend at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, California, I sat down with the guys of SafetySuit (Doug Brown, Jeremy Henshaw, Tate Cunningham, and Brad Oliver, who’s been sitting in for Dave Garofalo on guitar) to talk touring, their new EP (Hallelujah), and what to expect from their next record.
After spending this past spring on the road supporting Daughtry, lead singer Doug Brown says the response to their current tour has been a “pleasant surprise.”
“We’ve had just a great turnout at all the shows. When you get a lot of opportunities to do support for great acts like we have, you just [have] to take ‘em, so we haven’t have a lot of time to headline. So, to headline and to have a good turnout has been really cool,” he said. “Playing four or five shows a week has left not a whole lot of downtime during tour stops for the band, as they’ve been busier with added responsibilities on this tour.”
“You do the meet-n-greets and you do all the production set-up, and you have the lights. Just a lot more to take on, but I think the added benefit is that people come to your show, and they get to really experience your full catalog of music,” Brown explained.
The added responsibility hasn’t slowed the band down on stage, as they perform with a seemingly endless amount of energy throughout their live show. As far as keeping their energy level up every night, Brown shared that they tend to keep a certain perspective in mind.
“You pretty much go out there with the same attitude every night,” he said. “Every night is your only chance to impress those people in that city, so you really can’t phone it in any night.”
While talking about their favorite part about touring, Brown mentioned that he likes to see the sub-cultures and different people they come across, whereas bass player Jeremy Henshaw said that the band’s show is his favorite part of the experience.
“There’s moments in the show where you’re feeling this huge energy from the crowd, and we’re giving it to them and they’re giving it right back. There’s all this back and forth happening that’s just exciting, “ he explained. “And this tour, specifically, we’ve been doing this meet-n-greet for Camp Sunshine, and the response to that has just been insane. I think we can all say that’s probably like one of the favorite parts about this tour, for sure.”
The band has been raising money for Camp Sunshine in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. When fans donate at least $10, they are granted the opportunity to hang with the band before one of their shows. So far, over $10,000 has been raised for the cause.
“Helping people; that’s the best part about it. What we’re doing with this Camp Sunshine thing, like J said, is the most rewarding tour thing we’ve ever done,” Brown shared. “And then on top of that, just the meet-n-greet that we just did, every show you hear somebody that was in a bad place and the music kind of pulled them out of it.”
“For me, the lifestyle and being out on the road, you know, if it’s all about you all the time, it just gets old. There are some people, that works for them, that’s the way they want their life to be, but for me, it’s been really rewarding for us as a band to hear that we’re a small part of somebody’s story and hopefully that it was a good part of their story.”
Before SafetySuit hit the road last month, they released a new 4-track EP, Hallelujah, which features their modern approach of the Leonard Cohen classic.
“I had a dream about the song, and it sounded like that,” Brown revealed. So, I woke up and I recorded it, and I brought it to these guys and said, ‘What do you think?’ And they loved it.”
“We re-recorded it with everybody and then we kind of sat on it [for] about a year, year and a half. and then we were finally like, ‘We should do a cover on the Daughtry tour, let’s try this one.’ And that was the one we went with. It’s been working out ever since.”
In addition to their cover of “Hallelujah,” the EP also includes reworked versions of “Let Go” and “Never Stop” off of These Times and “Anywhere But Here” from Life Left to Go.
“‘Never Stop,’ we had people coming up asking to play their weddings, so we knew that we had to work that song out and do a little softer version,” Brown explained. “‘Let Go’ was the biggest pill for people to swallow on this last record, as far as it being ultra-poppy and being over-produced, which we liked, but people were like, ‘That’s so different.’ So, we’re wanted to show it in more of a band way. And ‘Anywhere But Here’ was one of the songs on the first record that people really gravitated to without ever being a radio song. So, we thought we’d give a new spin on it. Why not do it with an orchestra?”
When asked about working on the full-length follow-up to These Times, the band says they’ve been trying to write and record while on the road. Henshaw said they’ll probably take a few weeks off after the tour wraps, then get back into the studio to finish up what Brown deemed, “the best record we’ve ever done.”
As far as the direction of the music on their third record goes, Brown said that it’s going to be similar to their first two records, but with “modifications.”
“Each time, you’re not trying to change your sound, you’re just trying to hone it down and find the thing that you think connects the most with your audience and then the thing that makes you feel passionate when you’re playing it,” he explained.
“You’re kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t with music. You’re not going to please everybody, but you gotta make sure that you try to listen to the core of your fans. And then you’re listening to you and that you’re passionate about it. That’s the thing we’ve noticed being on the road the last five years. The people that have the best fan bases, they’re passionate about the music they’re playing and that passion translates live and people are drawn to it.”
SafetySuit is wrapping up their tour in Texas this week. On Thursday, October 4, they’ll be in Dallas at The Loft and on Friday, October 5, they’ll be in Houston at the Scout Bar.
Photos courtesy of Another ReyBee Production and Kirsten Coachman.