A Chat With: The Safes
The Safes is the Chicago-based project of brothers Frankie, Patrick, and Michael O'Malley; who craft feel-good, irresistibly catchy rock'n'roll music with their band. Throughout their years as a band, The Safes have garnered attention not only around the city, but across the nation, recently touring extensively in support of 2017's album Tasty Waves. Their reach has now gone as far as Japan, where The Safes will be heading this week for the first time to partake in a 5-day tour. Before the band takes off on the long haul to Japan, get to know them a bit better as they talk the process behind Tasty Waves, tour highlights, and what's next for them!
ANCHR Magazine: What was your first musical memory growing up, and when did you know you wanted to play music?
Frankie O’Malley: My first musical memory? Hmmm.... that is a tough one! I do remember being mesmerized a number of times at an unbelievably young age by hearing live music at Irish ceili's, my Dad playing the the accordian in our house and my Mom listening to music all the time! As for playing music that's a funny story, I grew up in a house full of musical instruments, guitars, drums, bass, piano etc.... but it wasn't until a grade-school friend got a guitar for his birthday that I started to play and then we started a band.
AM: Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your latest album Tasty Waves? Where did you record it, and what was like writing process like?
Frankie O’Malley: Well, we recording the basic tracks and vocals at IV Labs in Chicago with our good friend and highly respected record producer Brian Deck. Knocked out the whole thing in two days with the help of our bassist Curt Schmelz and drummer Dexter Fontaine. Then Patrick and I took it home to StudiO’Malley for all the electric guitars, keyboards, precussions, backing vocals and mixing! Then to Brian Deck’s home studio for a day of final mix tweaks.
The writing process, well when it comes to songwriting I’m always writing and had 9 complete songs that Patrick really wanted to put together for this release. He made a playlist of my demos and played it for me and told me to finish another song I had only lyrics for but I couldn’t come up with anything. So Patrick took my lyrics and wrote all the music for “Streets and Sanitation”. It’s the best song on the record; thanks Patrick!
AM: Where do you see some of the biggest differences and development in your sound on this album, compared to 2014’s Record Heat?
Frankie O’Malley: Tasty Waves is The Safes first album that all the rhythm guitars are acoustic and this was just an organic coincidence as we were going for the sound of my personal recordings; when I record, I don’t fuss over things like tuning, timing, quality of takes it’s just getting the ideas out of my head. So I will play an acoustic guitar and sing, then do the drums, then the bass etc. On previous records, we’d learn the songs as a band and play them out live a bunch; however, that was not the case with this album. Patrick set out to capture something he heard in those recordings when he was producing Tasty Waves and he not only captured that but he improved upon it!
AM: You went out on the road for about 3 months in support of Tasty Waves...what were some highlights of the tour, including favorite new cities or the best shows?
Frankie O’Malley: Every night of tour is my favorite! Each night: a new city, new friends and fans, new adventures! And memories beyond dreams, no way I could pick just one! All 3 months!
AM: Speaking of touring, you mentioned you’ll be heading to Japan this month for a 5-show run. What are you most looking forward to during your time out there?
Frankie O’Malley: Well I’ve never been to Japan, so I’m looking forward to this new adventure! Seeing all the beauty and wonder that Japan and its people have to offer! Patrick and Curt have been there before. But this will be the first time any of us are there to play rock n roll shows every night! So I think it’s just going to blow my mind!
AM: Besides Japan, what cities and countries are on your bucket list to perform in as a band?
Frankie O’Malley: Well, The Safes are immortal vampires, so we have no bucket list! But we do look forward to playing all the cities and countries on all the planets of this solar system and if we’re lucky beyond!
AM: Circling back to the local scene, what are some of your favorite aspects of Chicago's music scene? Who are some of your favorite bands and venues in the city?
Frankie O’Malley: Chicago is #1. There is a seemingly unending list of amazing bands here in Chicago it’s unfair to mention any in the event of leaving one out! Same goes for venues, record stores, media outlets that still cover local music, radio stations that still play local music! And most importantly the people of Chicago who support live music!
AM: What else are your goals as a band for 2018?
Frankie O’Malley: We have some cool recording projects on the horizon! Other than that, continue as always, writing, recording, playing live, making videos, just keep having fun being The Safes!