Safety Meeting: Welcome to the Saratoga Underground
Written by Joshua Reedy on October 24, 2020
Safety Meeting is composed of three fun-loving and genuine guys who make music that sounds like what you’d expect from a band called Safety Meeting (reverb-soaked indie-rock with some touches of psych and jazz). The band sat down to discuss the role they play in the Saratoga rock scene, the strain COVID has put on their lives and much more.
RRX: A majority of the bands I’ve interviewed have been based out of Albany. As Saratoga residents, I was curious of what the scene around here is like to you guys.
KR: Well, now it sucks (laughs). But it was dope because we had Super Dark Collective.
CW: Yeah, Super Dark Collective really keeps the music flowing up here. We used to keep the music flowing up here.
KR: We have a thing called Groovy Tuesdays, it’s called Mom I’m Going to Groovy’snow. We had local bands through that and we’d book shows every week.
CW: But that’s still dead right now.
RRX: What exactly is Super Dark Collective?
CW: It’s a booking company basically. It’s comprised of a few local musicians and they book bands from all over. They’ve had bands from Europe come and they’ll have everything from bedroom-pop to noise and country. It’s all over the place.
SH: There was a dude in a cage one time.
RRX: Oh! Was that Turf ‘N’ Turf?
RRX: I know him! His setup is very cool and extremely unique. But to get back to Super Dark, do they just book for bars up here?
KR: They book for Desperate Annie’s, which is cool because they did it every Monday and Thursday. So every Monday and Thursday we would go.
CW: It was always three different bands.
KR: And we would book stuff every Tuesday, so for a while, probably two years, every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday there was new local music.
CW: And there were no cover bands, which is rare for Saratoga. It was all original music.
RRX: That must have been great for networking as well.
CW: Oh for sure.
RRX: I want to go to Groovy Tuesdays now because I’m not super familiar. I know you guys have a big part in that.
CW: Groovy Tuesdays is just us. Yeah, you’re looking at the whole team right here. Like we said, It’s called Mom I’m Going to Groovy’s or just Groovy’s for short. It’s no longer just on Tuesdays and the last couple of times we booked stuff it’s been at Pint Sized. But those were short lived, we had two or three of them before COVID hit.
KR: Because Sinclair’s sold their space.
CW: Which is where we originally had the Tuesdays. They didn’t tell us though we had to find out in the paper.
KR: Have you ever been there?
RRX: No, I never got a chance.
KR: Dude, it was an arcade bar and we played in the back with a bunch of arcade cabinets.
CW: There was air-hockey, walking dead pinball, there were driving games.
SH: Virtual bowling
CW: It was awesome.
RRX: So did you guys seek out bands? Did they come to you also or was it more a mixture of both?
CW: It was mostly us seeking out bands. Towards the end it was definitely a lot easier, we would have bands reaching out to us and we always had room to put people on. We never had to say no to anyone.
KR: We had comedians come too.
RRX: We wanted to do something similar at the Byrdhouse.
KR: Yeah, I was talking with the guys there about how if you just throw a red curtain up and have some lights you could totally do a local comedy thing. It was very sad actually, one of the last times we played the Byrdhouse was with the Pacer Test guys and everything that happened was very tragic. (Pacer Test member Kyle Robinson passed away recently, and a memorial charity has been started in his name. There will be a link to this charity at the end of the interview).
RRX: So let’s talk about your own music now. I noticed you have most of your stuff up on Bandcamp as opposed to other streaming services, is that a conscious choice?
KR: Yeah, I like putting everything on Bandcamp first for sure. There’s less of a hassle and it’s up right when you upload it unlike Apple Music and Spotify. We’ve definitely never gotten a paycheck from Spotify.
SH: We’ve probably gotten about seven cents out of those.
KR: We’ve made 1000 percent more money on Bandcamp. We always drop everything first on Bandcamp.
CW: We wanna remaster the songs that are on our Bandcamp and then we’re gonna put them on Spotify. But we don’t want to put them up now, then take them down when we remaster them and all that stuff.
RRX: So you’re just currently focused on reworking those songs?
CW: Yeah, we’ve got them all recorded and just want to remaster them a bit but we’ve also got some new stuff we’ve been working on that isn’t on anything yet.
KR: We really just loved playing live. That was our number one thing, our biggest focus and now we can’t play shows.
SH: It’s a time of transition here at Safety Meeting.
KR: But we want to do everything independently. So we’re just trying to get good recordings done and when you’re learning recording as you go, you always feel like you could do better next time.
RRX: Do you guys use the setup here and mix and master stuff yourself?
CW: Yeah, we just do it all in-house.
RRX: I know a lot of people love your song “Callup” but I wasn’t sure if you guys were reluctant to play it when I saw you last.
SH: No, it’s still in the rotation.
KR: Yeah, we just keep it as an encore though.
CW: Yeah, that’s the whole idea, we say it’s our last song and we haven’t played “Callup” yet so people will shout out for it and we’ll be like: “Oh we didn’t think you noticed!”
KR: That was like, the third song we wrote. My mom thinks that song is about buying a pizza; she asked me what it’s about and I wouldn’t tell her, and she said she figured out that it’s about buying pizza (laughs).
RRX: Did you guys know that there’s some record label out there called Safety Meeting?
CW: Yeah, like, out in Texas. Keith messaged them and said: “One of us has to change our name, your move” but they never replied; they’re way bigger than us (laughs).
KR: There’s also a song on Spotify called “Safety Meeting” and it has like, a million listens on the tracker so it’s like, at least some other band’s song is doing great!
RRX: At one point you guys were called The Boys, right?
KR: Yeah, the first open mic we played as Boys.
SH: Not The Boys, Just: Boys.
KR: Thank God we switched that (laughs).
RRX: You could have tricked people who were looking for the show (laughs). But, I also wanted to ask about some of your favorite places to play.
KR: My favorite was probably the Mercury Lounge in the city. That was where the Strokes and Interpol came up and being in the same green room as some of those bands was really cool.
SH: Desperate Annie’s is a good one.
CW: It’s pretty small, but I love the setup at Radio Bean in Burlington Vermont.
KR: That place is really cool for local bands, they’d never turn a band down. They actually found us.
CW: You’re jammed into this like, 6×6 stage with a full drum kit and it’s kind of tight but the place was packed and it’s just so fun.
SG: It has some interesting architecture too.
RRX: You guys have played all over the place, huh?
KR: Yeah that was really our thing, COVID actually cancelled five gigs for us while we were trying to set up for a bigger tour. We just hit up our buddies anywhere and sleep on their floor.
RRX: Any bands you want to shout out?
CW: Who have we partied the hardest with?
KR: What about New Alone? New Alone is cool because they’re from Philly and they drove down here for some of our first Groovy Tuesdays. Those shows were not super ideal, but those guys were so into it and cool about it and then we played with them in Philly. It’s cool to have a band from outside the local area that you feel close with.
RRX: Anything else you guys wanna say?
KR: I feel bad for all the places that are gonna close because of all this. I’m hoping that things get better. Maybe if the bar restrictions can’t loosen up there could be a safe way to do house stuff. I hope underground stuff doesn’t go away.
CW: I’m hoping that once this goes away, regulations to open new places will be super cheap and we’ll have tons of new places being opened by poor people like us who just wanna put on new music. I think this sucks but hopefully this will lead to some good shit. Everything could also just stay closed, I don’t know (laughs).
SH: This interview is cancelled.
Check out Safety Meeting
Link to Kyle Robinson memorial foundation: https://www.krmemorialfoundation.org/