Safe To Say are embracing change in 2016

Safe To Say are embracing change in 2016

By Ben Tipple

Dec 16, 2015 14:43

Diversity and innovation are difficult games to play in music today. We live in a world where style is recycled, sometimes rebranded, and rereleased. It’s not surprising. To assume that particular genres actually disappear completely only to be brought back from the dead by that one musical pioneer is obviously absurd. Instead, the flow more likely indicates a saturation point in the mainstream conscious. Once a certain sound has been overplayed it makes way for another, which has previously also found itself relegated. Arguably, this is now the time for grunge.

There are more than a fair share of acts moving in that direction. It almost goes as far as to cloud the entire idea of innovation. The oversaturation of one market has encouraged mass-migration into another. Musical osmosis. Pop-punk bands of old are being labelled grunge-revivalists. Diverse to a point, but teetering dangerously on the edge of a bandwagon.

But not all fit into that category. As one genre pushes its way to the forefront, the others don’t die out. Fans of any genre, particularly soundtracks to subcultures, will find their vices. Let’s be fair, no alternative music of any sort is even close to becoming mainstream. There’s too much Adele for that.

Yet many bands previously housed in the pop-punk bracket are branching out, not least Ontario’s Safe To Say. As with many, they have found themselves in a densely packed pool. Innovation in pop-punk was proving difficult. In some senses, the genre has become a parody of itself. Not necessarily a negative one, but there’s only so many times audiences can hear about how shit it is to grow up in a small town.

So the often made argument is that innovation in music is impossible, right? Everything has been heard before, even the music classed as original is just a crude mash-up of past exploits by others? Perhaps so, although I profusely refuse to believe that ingenuity is a dead art. There are many bands attempting to do something new, including Safe To Say. Riding on the back of their criminally overlooked ‘Hiding Games’ EP, originality is the name of their game come 2016.

Like most, upon release the record encouraged immediate comparisons to contemporaries, namely Brand New and Citizen. Definitely welcome but not necessarily what Safe To Say are looking for. Vocalist Brad Garcia tells me that on their new record, due in 2016, they are looking for people to exclaim how different it sounds, and for people to draw inspiration and do something new. They don’t want to see comparisons to other bands. “It’s going to happen no matter what,” Garcia admits, “but it will be nice to finally be at the point where we only have to identify with ourselves.”

On that note, 2016 is looking bright. ‘Hiding Games’ has given the band the springboard to forge their own identity. With the recently released alternate version of the otherwise forceful ‘Zoey’, Safe To Say are making a direct identity statement. Garcia expresses appreciation for the scene that has encouraged them to thrive, but it’s evidently time to break out of genre boundaries. From the pianos leading the latest version of ‘Zoey’ to their appearance at Canada’s predominantly hardcore Heart Fest, pigeonholing is definitely not their thing.

Safe To Say are by no means the first band to firmly state their intentions, yet the excitement comes from knowing they have the ability to pull through. ‘Hiding Games’ is already littered with innovative breaks, and its sheer contrast with their ‘With Everything In Between’ debut acts as further proof. There’s also a subtle beauty on the reimagined ‘Zoey’ that gets right into the hairs on the back of my neck. But just what exactly is the innovation going to sound like?

“I don’t want to give away too much. I like surprising people,” Garcia says leaving me intrigued, if not a little disappointed. “I’m sure some people won’t like it,” he adds while talking about cementing their identity. Garcia is clearly less worried about what people think, how it fits in with popularity within the scene, and what their friends are up to. “We’re going to have something that distinguishes us from others,” he strongly believes.

“I have no problem sticking out like a sore thumb,” Garcia laughs. That is exactly what is needed. It might be a little unfair to place all the pressure of introducing innovation and diversity on Safe To Say, but it’s definitely tempting to do so. ‘Hiding Games’ cracked the door open, allowing Safe To Say to try something new. Garcia openly admits it was only the start of the process. In 2016, we’re looking at the Canadians to blow the door off its hinges, however that may sound.