Safety Meeting goes full garage-rock on new album, LICK IT UP

“One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” Lou Reed.

Sean Paul’s ‘Temperature’ is playing in the background while we’re sat inside KIRTH’S PLEASURE PALACE 3.0, the headquarters of Saratoga Springs band, Safety Meeting.

“This has been my whole week. I wake up in the morning, and I play this to my girlfriend,” Keith Rector, singer of Saratoga band, Safety Meeting, said.  A creeping sarcasm is interlaced in a lot of their songwriting.

Safety Meeting is Keith Rector on vocals and guitar, Sam Hagen on bass guitar, and Daniel Burt on drums.

While the second iteration of their HQ seemed to live up to the palace moniker – a bachelor pad with Playboy bunnies plastered on the walls – their new palace is less glamorous and bare, except for a conspicuous green screen covering the back of the smallish garage. In spite of the lack of overt pleasure, it’s this screen that transports listeners and viewers to their sardonic and satirical world via their recent music videos.

“You ever watch Clockwork Orange? I want that sway penis statue in here.” Keith was bemused.

If you’re not paying attention, Safety Meeting’s sharpness could pass you by, and even worse, it could cut you on its way.

With a soaring sense of fun that screams, “what do I care?” On the surface, their attitude may seem intimidating. Still, perhaps that jagged exterior coolness is another attempt by creative people to protect themselves from a world that seemingly becomes deranged by the minute.

The band released their first full-length album, LICK IT UP, last week, and the guys have decidedly gone full-on garage rock with it.

 Or maybe I’m overthinking.

You can listen to it here and everywhere else.

Would some call it a racy title? What else could it be? 

The band did not accidentally fall into their new sound. “We are doing a garage-rock album,” Keith had determined at one point. Their earlier sound could be described as lo-fi jazz with a pop sensibility. But since their previous EP, Sweaty Gug, they’ve thrown out fancy major 7 chords and opted for an approachable, no-bullshit, energetic one.

Photo by Andrew Cecala.

“I heard this quote about guitarists. If you can’t write a song with basic chords and structure, then you shouldn’t fuck around with 7 chords. I thought I should write a D-C-G song.”

It’s the first album the band has made as a three-piece. “I think it made the sound more concise,” said Dan Burt, the drummer and the latest member to join the group. 

Citing the reasons to go garage-rock, Keith said that he was tired of not having exciting live shows. “I wanted our live songs to have a lot of fucking energy. I like slow music at home. But I like fast and energetic songs at a bar. We recorded the album live,” Keith said. They wanted to capture the band having fun.

“The next one we need to get arguments in it.”

“I like simple shit. There’s a very line between pretentious and douchy, just like there’s a fine line between simple and good and bad and simple.”

As a vocalist for the band, Keith purposefully affects his voice and drops it to a lower register to the point where it sounds distinct from his everyday voice. There’s a tinge of that sarcasm in his tone, like he’s daring you to actually believe what he’s saying. 

“It’s pretty boring being yourself on stage.”

He said it’s somewhat of a character he has unconsciously developed; with the proverbial mask on, he can explore different moods.

“I wish I could do a dry vocal. I just don’t have the voice for it.”

This has recently progressed to the band sporting red jumpsuits. The uniform makes for tighter music, they speculated.

Photo by Andrew Cecala. Safety Meeting perform at Desperate Annie’s in Saratoga Springs, organized by the Super Dark Collective.

From the song’s titles to the lyrics themselves, the new batch of songs captures the essence of DIY American youth in beer-soaked basements, sincere anger and frustration at where things are headed on a national and global level, and the youthful ignorance that comes with both of these aspects of coming to age in the US.

Although the recording process began in October, they didn’t really get their “asses into gear” until around Christmas. The band, as with all their previous releases, did it themselves.

“I have to do everything DIY. That’s my issue,” Keith said. It may also be the reason the band may not press any vinyl anytime soon, he speculated.

All three members are savvy when it comes to studio engineering, and consequently, all have distinct aesthetic preferences. As a three-piece, they run a tight, democratic ship. Keith says that in terms of the quality of production and recording, this album is their best work so far.

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