With two full-length studio albums and a third in the works, there’s no denying that Safetysuit has come a long way since their humble beginnings back in the early 2000s.
Starting out in Tulsa, Oklahoma under their original name, Crew, the group got their first big break by (believe it or not) winning a local battle of the bands. Almost a full decade and two name changes later, the band boasts an impressive list of touring buddies the likes of Hoobastank, Daughtry, and 3 Doors Down among others, and are currently headlining their own 2016 winter tour.
AltWire [Derek Oswald]: SafetySuit has been a band for over ten years and you continue to make and release new music. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned as artists in the past decade or so?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: To stay humble and be good human beings. Nothing taints success more than being ungrateful or unaware of the people around you. And to always strive to be better. Nothing kills creativity more than feeling like you’ve arrived. To be the best, you’ve got to be the best. Thankful for all the great bands that have invested in us and given us something to aim at.
AW: The “sophomore slump” (about a band’s second album) is commonly referenced in music. However, “These Times” was a success – landing in the top 10 on the Billboard charts, ‘Get Around This’ did well, and you toured with Daughtry. Did you have any pressure on you when making the album?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Honestly, I don’t remember too much pressure. We didn’t have a lot of time to make that record (we were doing it between tours), but I don’t think we felt a bunch of pressure. At least nothing more than we always try to put on ourselves. But whether there was pressure at times or not, feeling scared when you’re creating is good. It pulls more out of you.
AW: Some bands choose to stick with one producer for an entire album; others choose to go with a few different ones. Did this make “These Times” more fun to record overall?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: I think it definitely made it fun. Not sure if I’d say more fun, but different and good. We got to do it in different cities, with different producers who all had different vibes. It was a huge learning experience too, definitely broadened our perspective. Wish we had more time to do it.
AW: You’ve released several EPs over your career. Where did the idea for the Hallelujah EP come from? ‘Never Stop’ (Wedding Version) is a given, and the takes on ‘Anywhere But Here’ and ‘Let Go’ were welcoming, but what drew you to Hallelujah?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Well first I should clarify that I am a huge fan of Leonard Cohen’s songwriting on that track (it’s one of the best songs of all time) and obviously I believe Jeff Buckley’s version is painfully moving and the most beautiful version ever recorded, so never in a million years would I have ever cared to try and cover that song, but a few years ago, I literally dreamt that arrangement. Fell asleep one night and in the dream, I heard the string part, the full band, all the builds, and how this terribly broken song could become something almost triumphant. I woke up, couldn’t believe I remembered the dream, and went straight into the studio to record the parts before I forgot them. It’s bizarre the way it happened, but I’m so glad it did. It’s a beautiful song on its own, but I’m proud of what we did to it. It’s become a huge part of the live show.
AW: SafetySuit was writing for the third album all the way back in 2012 and recording in 2013. ‘On Your Side’ was the first taste of new music, and then everything kind of came to a stop. Has the new album been completed for some time? A year ago you posted “Don’t call it a comeback” on social media and a tracklisting.
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: We have enough songs for two new records at this point! And we can’t wait to release the best of all of it. Timing is everything, but the record should be coming sooner than later.
“[Looking Up] is the best single we’ve ever released. Very proud of how it sounds and what it’s saying. It’s really just a song about perspective. We can all use a dose of that every once in a while…”
AW: Doug dislocated his shoulder on tour with Daughtry and had shoulder surgery while you were making the new album. Did that cause you to push the album back?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Unfortunately yes, that was a year-long rehabilitation. No way to play shows in that time period. And the Daughtry dislocation was just one of many for me. That surgery was a long time coming.
AW: Anticipation for new SafetySuit music has grown for a few years. You recently released a new single from the album entitled ‘Looking Up and it’s getting some solid airplay. Tell us about that song.
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Looking Up was a song that came out of us just wanting to have a song that made you feel good from start to finish. It’s uptempo, fun to sing and hopefully, it can turn your bad day into a good one. I think it’s the best single we’ve ever released. Very proud of how it sounds and what it’s saying. It’s really just a song about perspective. We can all use a dose of that every once in a while.
AW: Can you also tell us about the b-side ‘Heart Attack’ and why you decided to release it? Was it also a newer song?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: That was just something for our fans who’ve been with us from the beginning. We’ve actually only played that song live once, but sure enough, it made it onto YouTube and some people really took to it. It didn’t make the cut on the second record, but we thought we’d release what we had to let them know we appreciated their unwavering support. We have some of the most incredible fans in the world. #safetysuitnation
AW: Coming up for those who don’t know, your Meet & Greets on the 2016 tour benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. You’ve also done something similar with Camp Sunshine, for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. When SafetySuit goes on tour, how do you select the organizations you work with?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Well, we have been involved with Camp Sunshine for years. Very proud of those guys and the incredible environment they provide for kids battling cancer, year in and year out. We continue to support them, but with the M&G for this tour, we are honoring a good friend who passed away while we were recording. His name was William Bushelle and he was a United States Navy SEAL. We met Will while we were on a military tour through the Pacific a few years ago and became great friends in the years that followed. Like most special forces team members we’ve crossed paths with over the years, Will was incredibly humble and kind, but despite being a highly trained and lethal individual, he always left people feeling stronger, not weaker. That was just one of many great qualities he embodied. He served our country bravely in some of the darkest places in the world for 19 years, but in one of those tragic moments we will probably never understand, Will was killed in a car accident while at home in the states. It was a huge loss for everyone who knew him. Tate and I were able to go to the funeral to be with his family and former team members. It was there that we told the family that we would find a way to honor Will and give people the opportunity to hear his story. This M&G is us honoring that promise and honoring our friend. He was a great man and he has been missed every day.
AW: What other artists currently inspire you when writing music?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Really loving Jack Garratt right now. He’s one of the best out there of the artists you’re about to start hearing about really soon. Super talented musician, fantastic producer, great voice. Guy is crazy talented.
AW: And now for SafetySuit’s plans for 2016 and beyond! What comes after the current tour?
Doug Brown [SafetySuit]: Another tour, another song, more tours, more songs… Gonna be a big year!