“When we listen to our own songs we try to look at them like this: would we listen to them if we weren’t in the band?” muses Danny Gaisford, bassist of Essex pop punks, Safe Side. “We genuinely would,” he (fortunately) confirms. Safe Side’s sophomore E.P ‘Blossom’, a collection of highly infectious tuneage which successfully blends the band’s pop punk roots with elements of Alternative rock, and vocalist Frank Yates’ distinctly homegrown delivery. “Frank’s voice sets us apart,” opines Danny; “Pop punk is known for American pronunciation, no matter where you are from. So having a particularly British voice in our sound is a good thing.”
Following the band’s recent release of the EP, Frank discusses the recording process…
The whole band were really looking forward to the experience of going to the studio to record our second EP ‘Blossom’. It’s something that personally, being the youngest member of the band, took a tad of a reality check to think, “Oh shit, we’re really doing this now”. It was an opportunity of ‘game on’ for us, and we’re super happy with the finished piece.
With our first EP being recorded in Chris’ home-grown studio set up, we all had somewhat played around with recording before, but this was something entirely new, and definitely exciting. We were lucky enough to be working with Neil Kennedy and Daly George in The Ranch Production House, and we were confident when picking these guys after hearing of the up and coming bands sweeping through with successful outcome. With the demos recorded and sent over to the studio, they were keen to get involved, leading to us spending just short of a week with them in February 2016.
Nearing February, we were all set with our demo’s and ready to record… Well, mostly ready. Excluding me being the last-minute perfectionist I am, I was writing finishing tweaks whilst we were on tour the week prior, but we’ll just ignore that. By the time our week came, we drove a short trip to Southampton, and were buzzed and ready to start.
Callum was up first on Drums, and was quite honestly, shitting himself. We all definitely put too much pressure on ourselves, but simply because we were determined to get it right! Once Cal settled in, he was tapping away on the tubs, and laying down the foundations to the EP. Drumming was one of the longer days, giving us lots of time to chill or make some final practices. Once finished for the day, we headed down to good ol’ Sainsbury’s to get us some grub. The contrast of our meals for the week was something I found stupidly comical; me being a weird health freak, I picked up several packs of lentils, some raw kale, and a tub of humous, while the rest of the guys bulk bought tinned spaghetti hoops to live on for the next six days. I genuinely think we spent a good 15 minutes in the beer isle waiting for Chris and Jord, who were debating the best bargain for a pack of 24.
Second day was Danny with Bass. Danny set up with his usual thick tone for bass which we all love, it’s our way of filling out the lower frequencies in our tracks to give it a well-rounded solid sound. Danny has a talent that has earned him the nickname of “One Take Wonder”, so you can imagine how short the second day was. Somehow, it only took him 2 hours to play and perfect his parts meaning the rest of the day was spent in our room, challenging each other to Halo tournaments. Chris, for some reason, proceeded to warm up to the intensity of it all by doing push ups in a make shift bandana, whilst I played ‘Killing In The Name’ out of my phone. I still don’t really understand why, but it was fucking hilarious, and somehow helped because he ended up thrashing us all.
By the third day we were getting into the swing of things, rhythm guitar was next! However, both Chris and Jord chipped in on their parts for rhythm because the EPs tracks alternate in which guitarist plays what part. We were happy to spend a lot of time getting the right sound for the guitars this day, I definitely feel like it’s something that gives our songs some character. Since we have strung together tracks before in the past, it’s given us the freedom to experiment and find a specific sound we really love. It was handy to know exactly what kind of sound we were wanting from guitars, but we were also really excited to blend it in with what Neil had to offer in the studio, either way, we were motivated to get it right!
Lead guitar was alternated again between guitarist Chris and Jord on the fourth day, both of the guys write their own songs when we’re making demos, so we thought it would be cool to involve both of their stuff and add some diversity to the EP. One of the benefits of going to The Ranch was the equipment we were able to use. Jord and Chris had a good try of a few different guitars, and once they’d found the equipment that was doing something for them, Jord then followed to start recording his lead. With Jords turn taken for his songs, ‘In My Place’ and ‘Resolve’, Chris did his part for ‘Wilt’ and ‘Framework’.
Now we had all tracks set down instrumentally, it was my shot for vocals. We started early on day five, still with a sixth day left too. Looking back on it now, it seems like more than enough time, but I remember panicking about getting it all done. I’ve always found vocals to be very unpredictable in how long they can take, so pressure was on!
We made a steady start and things were going smoothly, but as we got further into the songs, we had some second thoughts about lyrics. After we had rounded up the majority of main vocals, and were able to look back at some of the takes, we decided a few changes were definitely going to do us some good in future. I sat down with the guys that evening to take a real last chance to pull the songs apart and fit it all back into place again, ensuring they were perfect for how we wanted them to work. Probably one of the most stressful moments for me considering how much it meant to get it right, but in hindsight, I just chuckle when picturing me pulling my hair out late at night, with Calum sat on the lower bunk playing Bayonetta till 3am. No fucks given.
The last day was one of my favourites; playing around with harmonies, and tying the songs together with the final strings. It was a tight squeeze getting everything together and finished, but I can’t explain how incredible it was to sit down on the sofa one last time after packing our bags, and hearing a rough draft of what it was going to sound like.
It took a lot of work and we truly poured our efforts into it, from the writing stage all the way to the final push in the studio, but we’re super stoked with the outcome.
We’re really hoping ‘Blossom’ does something great for us as a band that’s striving to gain success and hopefully, some limelight. We’re passionate about what we do and we hope that transcends into ‘Blossom’. But most importantly, we hope people are happy with the EP and enjoy it themselves!