Meet the rock-pop band Safety Net! Formed in the chaotic crosshairs of Atlanta, Georgia, this group is currently made up of vocalist Caroline Walden, guitarist Alex McIntyre and drummer Ian Rowland. Making music described sometimes as pop-punk and sometimes as alt-rock, Safety Net’s main focus is raw, honest lyricism that tells a story – the more personal, the better.
Friends since Caroline’s freshman year of college, Alex and Caroline formed Safety Net together in the winter of 2017, and recorded their inaugural EP “Wake Up” with Chris Senador of House Cat Records the following spring and summer. They were joined by drummer Ian in February of 2019, with Safety Net making its live debut at The Masquerade in June.
Following the release of their first music video for debut single “Walls”, the trio hit the studio once more, this time with Greg Hendler of GMH Audio. Safety Net’s next chapter opened with the release of their newest single “How Does It Feel?”.
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Learn more about Safety Net in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are at the end of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them? What are you already excited about for 2020?
[Caroline] Thanks so much for talking to us! 2019 has been pretty good to us. We met and started playing with Ian in February, got to play our first show opening for Happy in June, released our first music video in August, and of course, wrote and recorded and released “How Does It Feel?” in October! We’ve also met some cool people along the way who have been really supportive of us and our music, which has been so amazing.
I think in general our goal for this year has just been to do whatever we can to make our music heard and to grow Safety Net as much as possible. Obviously the results of a goal like that are fairly relative so it’s kind of hard to qualify whether or not we’ve “met” that goal or not, but personally I feel incredibly grateful just to know that there are people out there who care even a little about what we’re doing and are listening to the music we make and coming out to see our shows. When I think back to the beginning of this year and compare it to where we are right now, I definitely feel like we’ve grown since then.
We’re definitely excited to release new music in 2020! And hopefully play loads more shows! I guess that’s kind of a standard answer to a question like this, huh? I’m just super excited to see where the next year takes us and how much we can grow and how many people we can reach by this time next year.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on? Where did your name come from exactly?
[Caroline] Alex and I were actually in a different band together that had more of an indie-pop sound and I’d had an idea for a song literally for six months and I asked him to come over and write it with me. We finished it and sent the demo to the rest of the band, who in general liked it but all thought it sounded “like a pop-punk song”. I’d wanted nothing more than to be the lead singer of a pop-punk band since I was like, maybe 14. Who knows what was holding me back up until this point, but it was like a lightbulb went off over my and Alex’s heads and we were like “whoa… we should totally be in a pop-punk band together!” So we wrote the EP.
Figuring out what to call the band was actually kind of difficult. We both brainstormed so many long lists of ideas that neither of us could agree on. “Safety Net” just happened to be on one of mine and ended up in our shortlist and ultimately won. To me the name was half something that sounded cool, and half a sort of play on a feeling that I’ve had about the “music scene”, if you will, and how for a lot of people the music and bands they listen to are their safe place, or an escape from certain things – a “safety net” between them and the rest of the world.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? How has the music scene there changed over the years?
[Caroline] To be honest, we’re pretty different from a lot of bands in the local scene – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that being a band from Atlanta doesn’t, in our opinion, have a huge influence on our sound. Over the years we’ve obviously seen a lot of bands come and go, and of course the iconic venue The Masquerade moving locations, which was a really big deal. Other than that I don’t know that we’ve personally noticed a lot of huge changes over the last few years!
[Alex] The local scene hasn’t influenced our sound much, but each of us have been a part of various bands in the city throughout the years and I think that experience has definitely influenced how we navigate the scene and how we operate as a band.
Let’s talk about your newest track, “How Does It Feel.” What was the inspiration for this song? How would you say that it compares to anything else you have released?
[Caroline] The song is about feeling overwhelmingly not okay and wondering if you are the only one who feels that way. It’s about the feeling you get when you’re in a room full of people but you still feel by yourself. Sometimes when you’re depressed or suffering you become very isolated and you start to feel like you’re experiencing everything around you from behind a thick pane of glass and you just become desperate to know if anyone else feels how you do. That’s the feeling we were trying to capture with this song.
I would say this song has way more layers and components to it than any song on our first EP, which was really exciting for us in the studio as we were seeing it come together. I think also it definitely feels a little more emotional and intimate than some of those songs, which was also a goal we had when starting to write new music.
When do you plan on putting out more new music and a full collection of new songs?
[Caroline] We’re not sure exactly yet, but we are currently working on several new songs and we will most likely release another single in early 2020!
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
[Caroline] What usually happens is that I’ll get the lyrics for a song – usually that means I get a small idea for a song and it gets stuck in my head on a loop for awhile until I can figure out how the rest of the song goes – and I’ll either make a loose demo to send to the guys or ask Alex to come over and write the melody with me. Then we get together with Ian and figure out how the drums go and make sure we like the way the song is structured. The way that we play live means we have to lay down backing tracks before we can play a song live, even if we don’t record a full studio version, so what happens after that is Alex will write the bass and the rest of the guitar parts and we’ll either record a studio version or lay down a bass and guitar backing track so we can play the song live. Then in the studio when we’re laying down a full version we might add some extra synth or percussion layers and some backing vocals as well.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
[Caroline] Definitely! We just met Ian in February but we have a lot of fun hanging out with him. Our senses of humor all fit really well together and we all get along well, which in my opinion is really important when you’re in a band and making music with people. From experience, if you don’t like or get along with the people in your band it’s probably not going to last!
As for me and Alex, we’ve been really close friends for going on six years now! We have a very similar music taste so we go to a lot of concerts together when we’re not working on our own band’s music, or just hang out and goof off!
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
[Caroline] We’re still kind of a baby band to be honest, but like I said earlier, I do think we’ve been writing stronger songs and have a stronger stage presence when we’re performing. For me personally, if I were to compare where I’m at now to where I was at performing as an 18-year-old in my first band, the difference is monumental.
I think something that has stayed the same is just our mission – making the best, most honest music we can, and reaching as many people as possible with it!
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
[Caroline] Seeing our new music come together in the studio is a feeling like no other, but I think we have the most fun when we’re playing a show and sharing the music we’ve made with people.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues lately?
[Caroline] I think an ideal show for us is one where nothing crazy goes wrong with our technology and our set goes over well with the audience! Right now we are mostly playing shows where we are opening for bigger audiences so we never know beforehand how we are going to be received by the crowd. Our first show as Safety Net was really cool – we opened for a band called Happy and everyone was really receptive to our music and really nice to us. I think our favorite place to play is The Masquerade. It’s just such a legendary venue and means so much to the music community in Atlanta, and so many amazing bands come through there all the time.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
[Caroline] Social media is definitely important for any small band in the age of technology because it’s the main way to forge connections with people and get your music out to the world. I definitely would say we try to use our Instagram and Twitter as much as possible to connect with current and potential fans of our music!
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
[Caroline] I think that music in general is an escape from current events. I personally have always felt safest and happiest at concerts and watching live music and that feeling was one of the reasons I knew at a young age that I wanted to be in a band and someday hopefully be part of the reason that other people feel safe and happy coming out to shows. In terms of our music being an escape… maybe? I tend to write most of our lyrics about things that I have been through or am struggling with, so for me our songs are maybe a bit of an escape, but also a way for me to deal with and make sense of the things that I’m feeling and put them out into the world where maybe someone else will relate to them.
[Alex] For me the music ends up being both an escape and a method of channeling my emotions about what I’m dealing with in the world in a positive way.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?
[Caroline] For me I’d have to say Hayley Williams and all the guys from The Maine.
[Alex] Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Johnny Buckland and Bob Marley.
[Ian] Since I first started playing music? Aaron Carter.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
[Caroline] I think just in general we want all of our music to be relatable and send a message that you’re never alone in what you’re going through and there’s always hope.