TMF meets The Safety Fire
Busy touring in support of their recent debut album Grind The Ocean, TMF caught up with The Safety Fire vocalist Sean McWeeney shortly before the band hit the stage in London in support of Gojira to get his thoughts on playing small towns, the outlook of the media and the supposed djent scene.
The album Grind The Ocean has been out a couple of months now, so how are you finding the reactions from both the press and the public?
It’s been good, yeah. From the press, they’ve been bigging it up and it’s got really good reviews wherever they have reviewed it, which is cool. The thing that I care most about, which is the crowd’s reaction, has been great. When we first came back to the UK it was for Download, because when the album came out we were in the US, and that was our biggest and best show by far. I think it was because a lot of the people had heard all of the tracks, and people knew what parts were coming where during the tracks and stuff like that, the crowd were singing along to parts I wasn’t them to sing to. It makes a big difference, whereas before we had only released the two singles. That Download show was amazing and was a real step up for us.
How much of help was having lead single ‘Huge Hammers’ played on Radio 1? It must have been a real buzz for you guys.
Dez’s [Nagle, guitarist] mum was in her car and nearly crashed when she first heard it being announced by Zane Lowe; I went back and listened to when he played it, he stops and rewinds it to play it again. But yeah, that was an amazing thing for us, we never ever thought we would be played in prime time radio, on Radio 1, it’s a testament to Zane Lowe himself; I like the guy because he plays everything, plays whatever he wants. We weren’t expecting it as he just grabbed it and said “I want to play it”.
There’s been a lot in the press about how much the media are against metal, and yet you have your track being played on Radio 1.
I read Corey Taylor’s article, and I agree that metal is ignored by the mainstream. Since the demise of nu-metal, it has been underground. But then again, is it underground when last year you had two sold-out festivals? 100,000 at Download and 70,000 at Sonisphere, that’s huge and that’s just metal as well. It’s alive and kicking, and there are other bands being played on Radio 1 like Architects. But I think that’s actually the strength of metal in many ways, despite the media it continues on as there is this grassroots love of it, you don’t need mass media in order to get it out there which is a testament to how much people love it and enjoy it just for the sake of what it is.
How different is it for you whether you are supporting or headlining shows? And which do you prefer?
I’m so happy to be supporting Gojira; I’d say they are the best live metal band out there, so it has its benefits. You get to drink a lot earlier too when you’re supporting, as we don’t drink before we go onstage. But I love supporting as you also get to pick up new fans, loads of people who haven’t heard of you before, and that’s been happening a lot on this tour. So for that reason, where we are now, I like supporting.
You’re going back on the road in October with Between The Buried And Me and Periphery, playing a lot of smaller places that don’t get so many gigs, so how important is it for a band such as yourselves to get out there?
I like going to these local places; there are some towns in the UK which aren’t big, and when you go and play them every kid from the town will turn out because so few bands actually play, and I really love playing those places because that is the roots of metal in this country. It’s a testament to Iron Maiden years ago when they played something like 25 dates in the UK when they were huge, and they did it because they realise the small places are the roots, and I do like doing that. Tours do become shorter, they play bigger venues and people have to come further, and for a band playing so many counties I can understand it. Gojira for example have been on tour for two months and this is the end of it, and you can’t play everywhere when you’re a band like that. But for a band like us from the UK, that’s really important, we want to do that a lot more.
The latest buzzword is this “djent” scene that you’ve been lumped in with. As a band that were around before the term was coined, do you think there is a real scene, or a dose of lazy pigeon-holing?
Inevitably there is going to be a labelling of certain music, but I think djent is actually a very narrow term for a particular guitar sound; it’s not something we really rail against as there are lots of great sites like got-djent who have been featuring us for ages. I think it is a loose scene; it’s not a scene as others with a definitive dress code or there’s a lifestyle attached to it like hardcore, but there’s something there. Perhaps there might be a bit of an issue where someone gets the right effects and a guitar and thinks they can become a djent band, but you still need good songwriting. There are bands like us and Periphery and TesseracT who have been called that before, but for all of us it’s a term we don’t mind people using and if it helps people understand what we’re doing than fine, although we consider ourselves a prog metal band.
Grind The Ocean is out on InsideOut Music now. And to find out more about the band, head over to thesafetyfire.com.