Music Interview: “Screamo without the emo”

By Kate Foote

In Calgary, bands seem to believe if they scream their frustration at angst-ridden 14-and 15-year olds loud enough, they can establish a cult-like following. Bands falling out of that category find it difficult to make a name for themselves. However, two former members of a junior high wrestling team, their buddy from high school and a drummer from British Colombia found through the classifieds–otherwise known as Safe on a Satellite–look to dispel the present recipe for success in the local music scene.

Haven’t heard of them? Check your back pocket. If a bandanna hangs out, but your jeans are too tight to pull it out, chances are you’re a well-established scenester and Safe on a Satellite has not penetrated your wall of ignorance/circle of influence.

“We’re not part of that ‘scene,’” explains guitarist Joel Fraser.

“We don’t follow any of the norms that so many on the ‘scene’ conform to,” adds vocalist Kyle Corner. “It’s an attitude and an appearance and I don’t think any of us fall into that.”

SAOS’s resistance to follow the hardcore trend is refreshing, yet it’s prevented them from gaining name recognition in the local arena. Unfortunately for them, name recognition these days comes at the price of becoming a hardcore/screamo band, pandering exclusively to all-ages audiences. While rejecting the hardcore image, SAOS is willing to classify themselves as “screamo without the emo.”

Conceding the screamo elements involved in their music, the band isn’t about the emo lifestyle. Lyrically, their focus surrounds various aspects of life in general, rather than whining about the typical problems a 15-year old can relate to.

“We don’t like to present ourselves as a bunch of loser kids that can’t get a girlfriend,” elaborates bassist Dan Finamore. “It’s definitely not emo music.”

They are certainly not loser kids. Recently winning a spot on the Taste of Chaos tour, they will share a bill with the likes of The Used, My Chemical Romance and Senses Fail. A much-coveted prize, given the weight these names carry in respect to fan following.

MySpace, an online community often used by independent bands to promote their wares, sponsored the contest. Members of MySpace were asked to vote for their favourite of the eight competing bands. Judges then deliberated on the top three to select a winner.

“The news came by e-mail,” recalls Fraser. “It was like, one in the morning or something like that when we found out.”

“We just went hysterical,” Corner interjects excitedly.

“Then we woke up Chris [Bazinet, drummer], who had to get up at six to go to work,” adds Finamore with a laugh.

The boys hope the exposure from performing at the Taste of Chaos helps expose them to a greater audience and record executives.

“We’ve definitely been pursuing those avenues, but it takes time though,” says Corner.

“We’re hopeful,” adds Fraser .

Optimism without the ego underlies SAOA’s drive. While many young bands dream of stardom and popularity, these boys aren’t frustrated with their present independent status, choosing instead to just enjoy the ride.

“We get to have fun, do what we love and we get paid… sometimes,” says Finamore.

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