Joel reflects on Safety In Numbers
On the heels of our first national release, Anchor Drops, we began work on the follow up right after our ’04-’05 New Years’ run. It was an emotionally charged time as I had lost one of my best friends after the New Year’s show and Brendan went through his own personal strife. Seemingly overnight, we went from being a band with an abundance of youthful energy to a band contemplating many of the harsher and deeper realities that accompany life. Those emotions manifested themselves as indelible parts of the fabric for Safety In Numbers and they weave their way throughout most of the songs. The recording experience itself was very enjoyable as we had established an excellent working relationship with Manny Sanchez throughout the mixing of Anchor Drops and believe or not, this was the first real recording studio we ever used…. in 2005.
Where did we find ourselves? Manny worked at a Chicago studio called Gravity Studios, Kevin had already worked with Manny on the mixes and they were a great team. We did pre-production, recording and mixing at Gravity. I finally had a B3 and Leslie 122 (which I promptly set on fire trying to do a cool sound trick) and we finally had a room that could reproduce quality drum sounds. While the album starts out with a lot of bluster from Jake’s fiery riff that became Believe the Lie, it takes a more introspective turn for the majority of the tracks. From “Rocker” to “Passing” to “The Weight Around,” the lyrical content had suddenly grown up and the instrumental parts of the music strived to do the same. The stark minimalism of a track like “Ocean Billy” was something entirely new to our sound.
We were diving into new music together because we had to, it was the only way we knew to get through the tough times. As we were going through all of these challenges outside of the music, we really gelled as a band during that creative period. That also had relevance to naming the album Safety In Numbers as well, though Storm Thorgeson’s fantastic album artwork gave the title a clever interpretation. There were still lighthearted moments like “Women, Wine & Song” and “Nemo,” but for the first time it felt like we were ready to create more serious subject matter.
This record was also important to us as it was the first time we collaborated with both Joshua Redman & Huey Lewis in the studio environment. Josh composed some outstanding music for “Intentions Clear,” a few lines that Jake now plays live and are really crucial parts of the song. Josh has proved himself to be the singular musician outside of the band that we have connected most with over the years. As far as Huey, we met him at the gone-but-not-forgotten Jammy Awards in NYC in early 2006, just in time for him to lay down backing vocals & harp for “Women Wine & Song.” Our first hang with Huey revealed that we were indeed kindred spirits, as the laughs, drinks and music all came together in the studio that day. The diversity of the tracks and even the bonus acoustic tunes show us turning a corner as a whole. Cheers to that.
“Safety In Numbers” 10 Year Reissue is Here