Exclusive Album Stream: Beware of Safety – Lotusville

Photo by Steve Molter

An Arctic Drones Exclusive

Stream Beware of Safety’s new album ‘Lotusville’ before it drops tomorrow.

BEWARE OF SAFETY are a five piece instrumental band hailing from Los Angeles, California. After three years of silence, they’ve come back with their upcoming release “Lotusville” to offer a true authentic anthem to their never sleeping home town.

Stream the entire album and read our interview with the band below. If you like what you hear, order your copy here.

Album Bio

Los Angeles is a 24-hour city, but unlike other metropolises who put their constant bright lights and availability on display, Lotusville is different. She makes you work for it. Beware of Safety has done their homework, and their latest album is deeply influenced by the city they call home. It's a mix of locals and transplants, concrete and gardens, all thrust into the same space. But it isn't until the sun sets and the facade of the city fades that the true Los Angeles come out. The band's new album lives in the time between first sleep and second sleep when the normally dormant parts of the city are teeming with activity. This is the true Los Angeles. For those lucky enough to roam the streets in the wee hours, Lotusville is their soundtrack.

To start off, can you tell us first about how your lives were before this release, and how it has driven you towards that musical path ?

Morgan Hendry: I recently went back and listened to an interview from June 2011 as the band geared up to release Leaves/Scars. Despite the fact that we’re trying to be upbeat about the new record, the battle wounds were still fresh and you can hear it in our voices. The creation of that album was a really difficult process overall. Jeff described where we started writing as “a question mark”, and Molter felt that the process at times was like “screaming into darkness”.  I actually had to make a new years resolution in 2010 to not quit Beware of Safety before the album was done (I thankfully kept that one, “exercise more” fell by the wayside). In hindsight, you can see that we were transitioning as a band. We needed to fully understand how to work with one another, and how to cope with a blank canvas. At that time, I flat out said that I wasn’t looking forward to writing a new album anytime soon.

In the Fall of 2012, we were still not really moving forward. We toured more for Leaves/Scars in a shorter time than we had on previous albums, and I think we were still recovering through the summer.  There were also a few small “speed bumps”: Molter had two strokes (the very same day that I was in the ER for a massive arm infection), my day job was filleting me alive, and we moved into a terrible rehearsal space with walls so thin we had to yell to be heard over our neighbors.  Personally, I was wondering if we still had something left to say as a band after so many years. This is how Beware of Safety entered 2013.

Then something interesting happened. During one session, Molter, Kay, and Jeff started playing the opening section of “Bullet”. When I heard it, I was literally transfixed. Mind you this wasn’t the first song from the Lotusville sessions: we had already burned through 90% of Stare Down Orion and Wash Ashore in Pieces. For some reason though, that moment felt like a definitive step away from what we were before. I heard a band playing together, not just playing at the same time.  For me that had been a long time coming.

I can vouch for the transformative power of music, but I think it’s rare that a song you’re a part of can have that kind of impact on you. “Bullet” made me realize that Beware of Safety wasn’t done yet, and that, in my mind, we had completely made it through the crucible of Leaves/Scars. What followed was an explosion of creativity that I hadn’t felt in years. Yes, there were challenges like on previous records, but none of the abject writers block that existed on the previous album.  I may have been the last through the gate, but I can vouch that we’re the strongest we’ve ever been, and that you have only begun to hear what this band can do.

This must be an exciting time for you as your new album “Lotusville” is about to be released, can you share with us what’s so special about this record and what should your fans expect from you on this release?

Jeff Zemina: Releasing a new album is always exciting yet a bit surreal and strange at the same time.  You spend so much time creating this “thing” and you’re so close to it from start to finish. Then the day comes where you just release it and you never really know what type of reaction to expect.

I know we’re all really excited about people hearing it.  We pulled a lot of different influences into this one and kind of wrapped it up in a BOS bow.  So while on one hand we did a lot of different things from playing styles, to different effects choices to a whole new mixing and mastering process that sound we’ve had for almost ten years is still present. It’s still very much a Beware of Safety album…albeit different than each of the others. And it’s an album that I recommend listening from start to finish because it was created with that intention.

We hope fans love it. We hope new ears really enjoy it.  But at the end of the day we made the album we wanted to make and we are extremely proud of it.

Photo by lenscapesbe.wordpress.com
Photo by lenscapesbe.wordpress.com

After four albums and almost 10 years of making music, how do you think your creative and composing process has changed over the years ?

Adam Kay: There are a number of elements with our writing and creativity that haven’t changed in the last 10 years. I do find a great deal of comfort with some of these consistencies. That said; we’ve added other pieces while maintaining the original process. Usually, most of the songs start with Jeff, Steve, and myself sharing our respective ideas with our acoustic guitars. We talk about each riffs and what we ultimately want to do. If we can develop a flow within the first few minutes, we will continue to layer and develop the concepts.  At that point, we bring the skeleton to the room and try to finish the piece. However, over the years Morgan and Tad really begun to take charge at any given point in the writing process.  Their tremendous contributions became a creative influence instead of filling in the gaps. You simply wouldn’t hear the depth and complexity of some of these tracks without this collective effort.

Ultimately, the biggest change over the years can be can be said in one word. Trust. We trust each other’s vision even if we can’t initially hear it. That is the biggest different between Leaves/Scars and Lotusville. Leaves/Scars was the stitch work of Frankenstein’s Monster. Lotusville was the natural offspring of that trust.

The influence of your hometown appears to be great on this album, can you tell us how living in such a vibrant and rich city has musically and culturally affected you as individuals and as musicians ?

Steve Molter: LA is our home. We’ve each lived in this city for over a decade – Tad has spent the majority of his life here. The city runs in our veins. Most importantly, it’s provided us with the opportunity to come together and create music together for nine years.

Los Angeles is often pigeonholed as having no soul, no culture, a dumping ground for wilted dreams and hopeless romantics. It’s easy to think this because The Hollywood Machine is the de facto representative of Los Angeles based on its overwhelming presence in film and television and celebrity worship throughout the world. But the truth is the people who make up LA’s core population are not a part of The Machine. They are a diverse people who live their lives and do the best they can just like everyone else in the country and world.

One of my favorite parts about touring is meeting new people and sharing thoughts about the world. It’s funny and sad at the same time how many people I’ve met in other parts of the country or world who say they hate LA. I like to be a representative of my city, to talk about LA’s positive sides versus perpetuating its negative sides which can be found all over the internet, so I like to engage them and share the soft spot in my heart for my city. No place is perfect.

Lotusville was a very real opportunity for us as a band to express our love for and inspiration derived from our city. As the writing took place, we continually used references to feelings, places, and ideas that were very “LA”. One funny one in particular is when a section of “Bullet” made Tad think of a sports car from the 80s with headlights that flip up driving up the PCH at sunset. (I still think we should shoot a music video of Tad wearing reflective Ray Ban aviators driving a Pontiac Fiero through the tunnel at the 10 Freeway/PCH Interchange and up to Malibu.)

Anyway. Yeah, LA rules. You should totally come visit, Tarek. Tad’ll drive you around. Bring your aviators.

Your music has been featured multiple times as soundtracks to shows and movies such as “Rigged” and “Teen mom”. Can we expect more music from the new album to be featured in other projects , and do you plan to create a video to go with any of the tracks ?

Photo by lenscapesbe.wordpress.com
Photo by lenscapesbe.wordpress.com

Jeff Zemina: Sure hope so.  It was a thought to really push this one more in that direction.  We haven’t really gotten in to that too much yet because we are more focused on releasing the album, etc. But we will certainly be looking for opportunities as we move forward. I love hearing our music on television or seeing it in a movie.  It’s really cool. Got me to watch an episode of Teen Mom, haha!

We are considering some visual things for this album.  Have a few options that seem pretty neat but nothing concrete at this point.  It’s really never been much of a focus for us. Morgan did this cool time lapse video of wild fires near his workplace years ago.  Set it to our song Nu Metal.  It got something like 100k views in 3 days or something ridiculous.  BoS gone viral!  More of those would be nice.  If anybody has any cool ideas certainly get at us.  We are always open to listen.

You published earlier a rather interesting play-list of the music that influenced each track of your coming record , and it was pretty diverse, going from Pink Floyd to Nine Inch Nails. How did you manage to draw inspiration from so many different styles of music throughout your composing process ?

Morgan Hendry: I think we had only published the first of the four playlists when the interview questions came through, so those two bands don’t really represent the other guys necessarily …haha. I’ll speak to mine and the general process though.

Inspiration is most often unintentional. I’m having trouble thinking of a time when we’ve come out and said, “let’s write a song in the style of ____”.  I think the best thing you can do is prime your brain with source material and let it stew. I talked a bit about the Leaves/Scars era before, but a prominent feeling I had coming out of those sessions was one of complete stagnation. I had an incredibly difficult time coming up with new ideas of what to play, and I realized that a portion of that was due to not seeking out new music. So in 2011, I set (another) new year’s resolution to listen to 365 albums I had never heard before (failed with the exercising again though). I haven’t listened to that many new records in subsequent years, but it has made me much more aware that when I put music on, I have the option to expand my palate.

As we moved through the writing process, I saw that we were embracing new sounds and styles in our early demos. With that in mind, I wanted to surround myself with influences that I haven’t drawn from as heavily on previous releases. There are a couple of stalwarts in my music collection that really inform who I am as a musician: Nine Inch Nails, Tool, A Perfect Circle, etc. For Lotusville, I intentionally made an effort to not listen to them as much.

In the final months of writing, I was listening to a lot of more synthesizer driven and experimental music. Stylistically, a lot of it was post punk, witch house, and vaporwave adjacent. Artists like Lorde, Purity Ring, When Saints Go Machine, Joy Division, Oneohtrix Point Never, Silver Apples, Alessandro Cortini, and Crystal Castles tended to keep appearing.  Dawn of Midi’s Dysnomia dropped somewhere in there, and it provided a ton of clarity for songs like “Wash Ashore in Pieces” and “The Fever”.

Overall, I think I drew three things from wave of music surrounding Lotusville. The first was the idea of repetitive yet evolving rhythms, sounds, and soundscapes. The second was treating the drum set less like a drum set and more like an ensemble of percussion instruments. The third was that it’s perfectly fine to draw from the “pop sensibility” reservoir. I can definitely see common threads on the other playlists: Kay picked Basinski’s “dlp 5”, Molter picked Lorde’s “Glory and Gore”, Jeff picked Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk”. To summarize, it’s more about identifying a sonic foundation to build upon than direct pulls. Hopefully we can serve the same role for other bands out there.

Definitely check out all four of the playlists.  They give a bunch of insight into Lotusville:

Jeff Molter Kay Morgan

You have had some line-up additions over the years, but this release is probably the first as a stable band for a solid time. How did you manage to overcome the challenges of this continuous change, and do you feel that you have reached your desired sound and harmony as a band, or are you thinking of adding more instruments to the mix in the near future ?

Jeff Zemina: Actually our band member history is much less interesting than that.  We started out as a four piece back in 2005. Three guitarists (Adam, Steve, Jeff) and a drummer (Morgan).  We recorded our first two albums with that lineup.  As we got in to rehearsals for the dogs touring cycle we felt it was really time to bring a bassist in to the mix.  The arrangements on that album really required that low end in a live setting.  Morgan was also starting to play the keys live (which he performed on dogs).  I think Tad joined in 2008 or 2009 and the lineup has remained since then. 

When we added Tad it was pretty obvious that it would be the final line-up.  I don’t know that we would be able to or want to continue if anybody decided to leave the band.  So I’d say the lineup is about as concrete as it could be. 

We have heard that you are planning to hit new territories for live action in support of the new release soon, can you tell us more about these arrangements and the other projects you have planned for the future ?

Steve Molter: In an ideal world, we’d all be able to tour non-stop without getting tired, overworked, missed by our loved ones at home, etc. But the reality is that we all have day jobs to support our creative output; a couple of the guys are married, one has a beautiful baby (BoS’s sixth member!); and we have other passions in our lives that require our attention.

That said we do love sharing out music in a live setting as much as we can. We have been fortunate to tour solid chunks of the USA in our career, and had a wonderful experience performing in Europe in 2012. At the moment our focus is on releasing the new record and supporting it locally with our release party on October 18th at the Bootleg Theater in LA. In the winter, we’re hoping to get some shows in the Southwest US under our belts in preparation for a return to Europe in spring, 2015. We have a few tour options kicking around at the moment, but nothing has been solidified just yet.

Interview by Tarek Zakaria

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