A safari through the emotions

By Mark McConville

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Indie rock trio Safari Room has mixed a bunch of eclectic sounds together to create a fundamental output and their lyrics resonate, giving fans an insight into the bands thinking and ethos. A band constantly working and making waves in the industry too, they’ve delivered Time Devours All Things, which is an album majestically pushing the boundaries of their genre. By offering people an outlet to immerse themselves, the act has also sonically embedded an originality that many bands lack.  

Time Devours All Things is a masterclass in song-writing and powerful arrangements. It’s so profound and flows seamlessly from song to song. It seems like there’s a story instilled too, a fable which can be dark and brooding but also insightful and engaging. How long did the album process take, and did all come together smoothly?  

First off, thank you so much for the kind words and affirmations on ‘TDAT’! Tons of blood, sweat and tears are baked into the record so it’s been brilliant to hear people are thoroughly enjoying it. Means the world! The album really started to take shape in July of 2022, right after Safari Room put out our second album, ‘Complex House Plants’. I was eager to keep writing and recording, feeling a ton of energy from the recent album’s recording process and release. Cole Yepsen (co-producer and touring bass player for Safari Room) and I dug in that Summer of 2022. The beginning was mostly me throwing demos and songs at him and him helping to sieve through the deluge. We narrowed the record down to the ten songs and then began tracking in August. We finished it about a year later. I’d say the recording process was as “smooth” as I could have hoped for! Any project of this size is going to have snags and setbacks, but I couldn’t be happier with the end product. So with that in mind, any hiccups amidst the journey were well worth it. We had a blast making the record in our own homes, rather than renting studio space. What seemed like a possible limitation, enabled us to take our time, be expressive and remain thoughtful throughout the process.

What’s your thoughts on the indie rock scene now? Have you seen a flourish, or do you feel it needs more acts to bring it back to the forefront?

The indie rock scene is in an interesting place right now. But it’s not totally a unique space. I feel like every genre of music is feeling the impact of short-form content and acute attention spans. I don’t know what that means for the future, but nothing can replace the heart of music, which I think will continue to be a through line.  Indie rock – specifically – has become so broad of a genre that I feel encouraged by the ever-expanding sound and definition. It inspires me to think outside the genre and pull in aspects that typical “indie rock” bands wouldn’t lean into. The more we all express ourselves in new ways and sounds as indie rockers, the more interesting the scene can become. Furthermore, I’m interested to see how increased costs of operating a band effect smaller, “indie” bands. With anniversary tours and a slew of legacy acts still touring and making music, it’s harder for newer bands to make it up to the forefront without an immense amount of clout or (let’s be honest) money. Bands are also stuck between nostalgia and rapid-fire content creation. It’s all kind of daunting!

You guys are really a trailblazer. The sounds you make are fresh and the composure you show should be replicated far and wide in the industry. Have you seen an upsurge in people liking your music since the release of the record?  

Wow! The word “trailblazer” feels like an itchy sweater, but it’s so warm and kind! Once again, I truly appreciate the sweetness and compliment on the music! I’d say there has been a definite upswing in listeners and response from the new record! But I think that also comes from the amount of hustling, touring, content-posting that happened before the record came out in February. I did my best to tee it up as much as possible in hopes people would find it – or be anticipating it – on release day. It’s not enough to just put out a record anymore. So much has to happen behind the scenes to garner interest in the music. And at the end of the day, my goal is for each record/release to expand the community of listeners I’m engaging with, musically. So for this album? Goal achieved.

As I said, you guys are great a weaving a story within the music. Is it a collective thing writing these lyrics, or do you all contribute?  

I write all the lyrics for every Safari Room song (save for a couple songs, co-written with outside voices). Safari Room, at its core, is my baby and brainchild. However, it is surrounded by a great group of musicians helping nurture and support its growth! Previous records and iterations have been more collaborative on the music/arranging end, but I’ve always been the chief songwriter and lyricist.

How to feel about the state of the industry now. Do you think it needs a revolution or more artists to mix it up?  

I think it’s in a very strange state! We’re seeing huge shifts and backlash against streamers, increased costs in touring and music production, people making Grammy-winning albums on their laptops, etc. Things seem to be pushing towards a paradigm shift, but it’s truly hard to say. At the very least, it means that anything and everything is possible, which is comforting and completely overwhelming. I just have to stick with advice I’ve been given: if you have a broad scope of what “success” means in the industry, and you stay in the game long enough, you will be able to carve out a niche for yourself. I don’t know what the silver bullet will be for the industry, but change is afoot! I think we all just have to keep creating, listening and engaging because we love to be a part of the magic.

Is there a UK tour on the horizon?  

It would be an absolute dream to tour the UK! If the demand is there, and I’m able to fund it responsibly, we’ll be there. Count on it.

You guys also have a great relationship with fans and your community. Your ethos is gracious and sincere. Do you like giving back?  

Safari Room, and really any other band/artists/etc, wouldn’t exist without people listening and interacting! I see music as a conversation between the artist and the listener, and I am known as quite the talker. So perhaps that’s where it rings genuine – I really do want to interact and be in community with folks who dig Safari Room!

Intelligence sometimes becomes such a lost component in music. You guys have such a great understanding of your craft. I can see bigger things happening for the band. Do you want to outgrow the small venues for arenas or are you settled now?          

Thank you! I really do try and create a marriage of head and heart within the music without sacrificing the heart too much. Grateful to hear the mixture feels balanced! Of course, I’d love to play arenas down the road, but I think Safari Room is a ways off from that right now. I want to continue to play the rooms that make sense for our size of band and dazzle each and every audience! Surely, larger rooms will come as the band grows, but there’s no rush to play venues larger than ones we can confidently pack out with sweet, loving humans.

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