Safety? Always Off! – Interview

Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (

PD:  How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist? 

  Dan: In high school, my favorite band was Trivium, but I always had a soft spot for pop punk. There are plenty of bands I’ve come to find out that mix the two, but my goal is to do so in a way that has never been done before.

 Blake: I think in this band in particular Dan and I have a really interesting dynamic. I’ve always been into emo and punk mainly but I had an interest in metal and like heavier stuff so in a way we share interest but we also are sorta on the opposite ends of the spectrum. I think I’d describe Safety as those two ends of our creative spectrum mixing, or if I wanted to be boring I’d call us easycore with a twist.


PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.

  Dan: I’m from southern Illinois near the St. Louis area. Every summer since then, my grandparents would take me to a rock n roll camp in St. Louis every summer, which is where I met Blake through my cousin. Years go by, the pandemic starts, Blake tweets about reviving easycore, I get invited to an EP race, and the rest is history.

 Blake: I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. I started playing music originally when I was in grade school cause my mom just wanted to give me something to do after school so I got put in drum lessons. I started playing bass in jazz band in middle school and that’s also when I started listening to my own music and figuring out what I liked. Dan told the story of how we had met but we both have been in lots of other bands and writing solo stuff so we’ve each been making music for quite a long time before this.


PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?

  Dan: I saw Senses Fail play Let It Enfold You in its entirety at the last Riot Fest before quarantine. I didn’t know much about them. In fact, I felt some sort of imposter syndrome when I was there, but the crowd was singing all the words. When I sat down with the album and the lyrics I realized why. Those lyrics helped me realize that I’ve outgrown some people I was hanging out with. That the length of my commitments aren’t a good enough reason to keep said commitments. It changed the entire outlook of my life and today I’m setting out to share the wealth.

 Blake: This is definitely a big question for me cause I take lots of influence from wherever I can. I mostly come from the emo/punk world so a lot of my favorite artists fall in there, Rise Against, Touche Amore, Title Fight, etc. but I’m really into jazz, folk, indie and like just so much music it’s hard to really pin down a main influence. I think a more interesting thing I gain influence from is books. I used to love to read (I’m way too busy now to read anymore) so when I was first writing songs when I was like 13 and nothing had really actually happened to me yet I used to write songs from the perspective of characters I was reading about. To some degree I still do that when I don’t really have the inspiration to write about myself but I definitely always try to be as authentic as possible now.


PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?

Dan: As I’ve said earlier, I want to write songs that change people’s lives. How many doesn’t matter to me. I just know that my mission would be accomplished if someone says the thing that I’ve waited my whole life to say to my idols, to me.

Blake: The goal always used to be try get picked up by a big label, get to be as big as possible, have a bunch of fans, and live the rock star life but I think as I’ve gotten older and I’ve realized 1) that will probably never happen and 2) even if it does its not the life it’s made out to be. I think my aspirations now are really just to keep creating and making stuff I’m proud of and hoping others like it just as much as I do.


PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?

  Dan: This is the most healthy relationship I’ve had with any band I’ve been in. Long story short, it translates outward into other proud moments. People I know have been telling me that they like this band without obligation in their voice. It’s a damn great feeling.

 Blake: There’s been a lot but I think my biggest was getting to open for Donny McCaslin one time that was pretty neat. In this band specifically I think putting out our latest record was something I was super proud of.


PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?

  Dan: It’s pretty tough, but I’ve found inspiration from my sister and her friends in the cybergrind scene. It’s a very niche genre, but if you find as many people in it as you can, you become strong, if not indestructible while united. Community is the most underrated part of getting where you need to be.

 Blake: Ditto to what Dan said community is the most important part of making/promoting music. I think word of mouth is a super important part of how music gets spread. You can pay for as many instagram ads you want if you don’t have friends who believe in and want to show other people your music, you will get absolutely nowhere.


PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?

  Dan: Up to this point we’ve been an all-online band. We are branching out soon into having a full band. The cool thing about where I live is that it’s small enough that you can just text a friend and get a gig, but big enough for that gig to thrive. Bands owe college towns more than they think.

 Blake: We don’t have anything planned yet and with the two of us living decently far away from each other we didn’t really start thinking about live shows until very recently. Something will hopefully come together soon though.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?

  Dan: I get the draw to Spotify. I use it myself. It’s very user friendly and a good platform to discover music on. But for those of you who haven’t heard, their CEO basically got a spot at the table for the military industrial complex. If his money gave him that much power, he can give my band the three dollars we’d get if it were penny-per-stream.

 Blake: Not a big fan of how streaming services pay out artists (especially independent artists who aren’t going through a label to get on their platform) but I think its benefits are there. There’s no better way to get people exposed to your music than through a discover weekly or spotify curated playlist and those are such necessary and important tools. I simply wish Spotify’s CEO wasn’t also a massive tool.


PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

  Dan: I gotta go with I Have A Problem by Beartooth. The pure aggression of that song along with the message is free therapy in my opinion. It would be sick if I got to call that one my own, but I tip my cap to Caleb Shomo.

 Blake: Honestly this is gonna be kind of a curve ball but Moon Song by Phoebe Bridgers. I’ve always loved her songwriting and just her ability to write really vivid imagery and just create a mood are completely unparalleled. I’m always trying to write in a way that makes people feel and that song gets me every time.


PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?

  Dan: We gotta drop the big-leaguing. Like I said earlier, community is a big part of this industry. Having preferences on meeting someone in real life vs online is completely valid, but don’t just close the gates completely because you made it somewhere.

Blake: Without going on too long of a rant about the industry, the short answer is the entire music industry is functioning backwards and we need to give artists more power over their money and music.


PD: So what are you working on at the moment?

 To celebrate getting 100 followers on Twitter, we recorded a cover of Mr. Brightside by The Killers.  We’ve also recorded a song for a Beautiful Rat Records compilation coming out December 3rd.  Over Thanksgiving break we’re going to hold our first rehearsal with a full band, and we’re currently ironing out the details on a collaborative split with our friends in Deadend from Maryland.


PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online? 

You can find shirts on our Teespring, I could have sworn I bought a domain for it, but whatever

You can find buy our music digitally or buy our tapes on our Bandcamp

Safety? Always Off! links: 
Band/Artist location – St. Louis Illinois
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