A 50thirdand3rd Conversation With The Safes

As a staple of Chicago’s garage rock scene, The Safes have unleashed their power-pop sensibility for nearly 20 years! Equal parts Elvis Costello and The Kings, The Safe’s brand of sugary melodies, overdriven guitar, and the filling-rattling rhythm section is everything you could want in a rock band. Ahead of their latest album Tasty Waves (on Hidden Volume Records) I had a chance to talk with Frankie O’Malley about Chicago, vinyl, and their upcoming tour of Japan!

Who are The Safes?

Man, The Safes? They’re the guys who keep bugging me to make music with them and stuff! Ugh!  Oh, wait those are my brothers and my friends! OH shoot this is going to be public… Sorry dudes. The Safes? Yeah, those guys are alright!!  I know them!

If you had to describe yourselves to someone who has never heard The Safes or caught them live, how would you do it?


You haven’t heard or seen The Safes?  OMG! You totally have to listen to and go see The Safes!! They’re like, the best!!! For sure.

Your new record Tasty Waves, is in fact, tasty. What does this record mean to you?


Honestly, it means the world to me; sincerely it really does!

Lots of retro vibes in Tasty Waves, quite a few of the tracks remind me of The Monkees of all things! Who are some of your influences?


Retro huh? Hmmm? We were going for a futuristic new sound like no one had ever heard with this album! We were certain we’d found the 13th, 14th, and even the 15th notes! I guess we failed! Oh well, maybe next time. Influences? You know the same stuff that influences all the kids:  professional athletes, celebrities,  NC17 movies, TV, shock jocks, music with explicit lyrics, banned books…  Oh and The Monkees of course!

Hidden Volume is putting out the record, Scott from that label is a pretty interesting dude, how did you guys get hooked up?


In 2014 while touring in support of our album Record Heat, we had the pleasure of playing Baltimore three times that year!  The first of those three show was with one of Scott’s bands, The Stents.  Cool band!  That is when we met Scott.  He’s definitely an interesting guy!  We traded records after the show and he told us about his label which was only around a year or 2 at that point.  Scott came out to our next 2 shows in Baltimore that year and bought our whole discography and we talked more and became buds!  At that time he was mainly doing 7″ releases only.

Over the next few years, we watched Hidden Volume grow in America and internationally and we were very impressed with Scott’s work ethic!  And of course we are fans of the bands he releases and we love the label’s aesthetic!  So when we finished Tasty Waves we called Scott about releasing it and he was totally into it!  It has been an amazing experience!  It’s nice to work with a great label like Hidden Volume!  The Safes are a very hard working band that do everything we can to make things happen for our band; Scott is the very same!  It’s nice to work with a professional like him.

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You guys are from Chicago, I am too! (far south burbs where all the squares lives to be exact) How do you feel about the Chicago music scene?


Yes!  I feel cold about the Chicago scene; it’s 7 degrees outside! Ouch!  No, Chicago is the best.  There are so many great bands, venues, record stores, media outlets that still cover music, radio stations that still play independent music! Shout out to Razor and Di at WLUW! It’s people like them and many others that help keep the Chicago music scene alive including the people of Chicago who support live music!

Any Chicago bands you recommend our readers should check out (outside The Safes of course ha!)


So many great bands in and from Chicago!  A very important lesson I was taught at a very young age is that if you start listing people you are guaranteed to leave out at least one, if not many!  So this recommendation list is gonna be very short.  Actually, you know what how about just go to the shows page of our website and look at all the bands we’ve played with in Chicago!  I do recommend all of them.

You guys are getting ready to tour Japan pretty soon! That has to be a trip (literally). What do you expect to experience there?


Oh yes, I’m tripping right now about that – very hard actually!  Expect?  Maximum fun times!  Crazy Rock n Roll parties!  And the opportunity to experience the beauty and wonderful culture of the people, landscape, cities, and food of Japan!  That’s going to be a pretty amazing tour and experience.

Why do you think the Japanese love our US music so much?


You know I was told once that English is the universal language of Rock N Roll by a musician from Scandinavia!  That sounded about right to me as to the reason for US bands having international success!

Whats your favorite track on Tasty Waves?


“I Wish I Could Help You”, track #9 is my favorite – the melody and lyrics!

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Of course, vinyl is the best way to hear your music. Whats your thoughts on the resurgence of vinyl?


I just hope it’s here to stay!  So many cool things in life go away and never come back.  Vinyl came back strong; I’m proud of you Vinyl!

Whats the mission statement for The Safes?


Have a good time all the time.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me at 50thirdand3rd, any parting words?


Thanks so much.  Please buy your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers copies of our albums, CDs and T-shirts for their birthdays and any other special days. Music still makes the best gift in my opinion!

Tasty Waves is available on vinyl at Hidden Volume Records

For more info on The Safes, please visit TheSafes.com


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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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