Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Roadtrip Nation" takes Chicago band The Safes on musical trip

Photo by Sarah Cass


It would be hard to miss the music of Chicago band The Safes.

The band's music has been featured in a variety of shows over the years, including VH1's "The Cho Show" and MTV's "Real World."

With four songs featured on the current season of PBS series "Roadtrip Nation," The Safes, comprised of brothers Frankie and Patrick O'Malley and cousin Patrick Mangan, continues to be in the spotlight. The Safes will perform Nov. 21 at Township, 2200 N California Ave., Chicago.

Tickets are $8, available at

I had the chance to talk to the band about its new single, "Century of Saturdays," which includes the
songs "It's True" and "Simplicity," both featured on the show "Roadstrip Nation."

Q - "Century of Saturdays" is a musical departure from the power pop the band is known for. Do these songs represent the direction the band is going?

When we recorded our debut LP, "Family Jewels," in 2003, we made a point to include a diverse range of our early songs. The songs included on that record varied by genre, tempo, feel and instrumentation. 

We did a bit more of this on 2007’s "Well, Well, Well," as well; so we’ve hinted at this direction before. But, yes, there will be a full length of just this type of music after we release another full-on power pop record in 2013 that is ready to go. 

We also have a collection of demos for some country and folk music that we’ve written and plan to release in the future. So, The Safes are going in many directions.


Q - How did the band become a part of "Roadtrip Nation?"

I sent them some music, and they liked it and requested more recordings. After they listened to the additional songs, their music supervisor asked us to license four songs, including “Simplicity” and “It’s True” from "Century of Saturdays" that rolls over the credits for each episode. We happily worked out an agreement.

How do you think your songs fit in with the series?

Our songs fit Roadtrip Nation very well. I especially like how episode three ends with a shot of the Chicago skyline as our music plays!

Q - What do you think of the idea behind the series?

Roadtrip Nation is a very cool series! If you are not familiar, the premise of the show is to document a group of young people traversing the country with the purpose of interviewing people who inspired them by living lives that centered around what was meaningful to them. 

Since we are a touring band, we can relate to traveling this beautiful country, striving to grow and learn, gaining new experiences and making new friends!

Q -Has the series already brought more exposure to the band?

Absolutely! The team at Roadtrip Nation do an amazing job of getting the word out about not only the show but the musicians they feature on the show. 

Right now as the show is airing, they are in the middle of a 30-city tour promoting all things "Roadtrip Nation." A band couldn’t ask for more!

Q - The band has licensed many songs in the past. How does the band determine what projects to be involved in?

We’re pretty open to most licensing projects. Luckily for us, we haven’t had to turn any down any agreements as a result of our beliefs and convictions.

Q - Does the band view the licensing deals as just another way to get out its music, and something that is especially important in this ever-changing music business?

Totally! It’s all about the music finding more ears. Anyone that makes music wants people to listen. 

So we can attest that licensing is a great way of being heard, gaining new fans and making money!

Q - Your band has gained much critical acclaim over the years. How important is that to the band?

It’s important. Especially if you plan on sticking around! 

Getting press coverage and radio airplay is similar to licensing in that it’s a great form of exposure. We’ve enjoyed the success that press and radio coverage has helped bring The Safes. 

When we are on tour and show up in cities all over America people definitely come out to our shows because they read in the daily paper, blog, or music magazine about our band. This coverage helps us have good turnouts, sell merchandise and make new fans and friends. 

Through touring, word has spread even more when people share our music and make recommendations about The Safes to their friends… It’s a vital component of a band’s longevity!

Q - What are the challenges of being in a band with your siblings? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives?

In regards to challenges, there is a much more readily available system of buttons to push; on the other hand, there is the guarantee to forgive, forget, and move forward. 

Making music with people who you grew up with and that have the same record collection makes creating, performing, and recording music much easier because we all have the same points of reference. So yeah, the benefits outweigh the negatives for sure!

Q - Where do you see the band fitting into the Chicago music scene?

As a welcome fixture.