Safie extends its caustic course with new EP

By Cyrus Moussavi 2005

It seems as if trouble is brewing in junior Brian Bottke’s basement. A psycho is screaming into a microphone in a most inhuman fashion. Bottke himself is gnarling a bass, and , on top of it all, it seems as if the spirit of Eddie Van Halen is playing a blatantly ’80s guitar solo. Trouble indeed, this cabbage-patch of furious heshers is none other than Safie, undoubtedly Cedar Falls High School’s most metal band, and they are busy “practicing.” Guitarist and CFHS junior Josh Parks said of these so-called practices, “Well, we all show up when we feel like it, and then we play through our songs while (junior) Andrew (Philp) and I play ’80s solos and figure out how we can be more tough.”

While discipline may be a shortcoming for the band, their toughness and ’80s-ness is undeniable. Indeed, Safie brings together an often disorienting combination of pummeling hardcore and straight-up ’80s metal into a sound that tickles the eardrums with a toothpick.

But it wasn’t always this way. Cedar Falls High’s most metal troupe started out around last Christmas break with more than humble beginnings. Lead singer junior Matt Schmitz said, “Yeah, we started jamming on Nickelback tunes.” Fair enough, everybody has to start somewhere.

This odd Nickelback fetish developed into a show at last year’s Rockstock and a short demo recording. Afterwards, Safie retreated from the public eye for some months and returned from isolation with a new lineup and new songs. This incarnation of Safie included a new, improved rhythm section consisting of bass guru Bottke and 2003 CFHS graduate Tim Dodd on the drums. This new addition accentuated the gnarly double guitar approach of Parks and Andrew “The Maiden” Philp and the offensive larynx shredding of Schmitz.

This version of Safie proceeded to turn the metal up to 666. In the months since the lineup change, Safie treaded through the best of times (Aug. 22’s Waterloo Arts Center show comes to mind) and the worst of times (angry Cedar Rapids punks, best avoided) and has finally reached what may be the band’s greatest achievement to date. This Friday, Safie will celebrate the release of their six-song EP (entitled “Vanity was her Gift” and recorded by local legend and CFHS grad Chris Brown) with their first headline sot at the Reverb in downtown Cedar Falls.

What do expect from the new album? Like all things Safie, “Vanity was her Gift” is a tumultuous and and diverse affair. The members of the band come from such a wide range of influences that they can’t even decide what type of music they play. During a full band interview, the question, “Can you describe the band in three words?” raised more answers than there are band members:
Matt: Hate-edge mostly.
Josh: We get three words? ’80s melodic metalcore.
Tim: Yeah, hardcore and metalcore.
Andrew: We’re hardcore?
Matt: Dude …
Andrew: “The Pedestal’s” (the second song on the new EP) break down to me is totally Pantera. Tuning to C# is also metal and helped us out a lot.

Whatever the answer, the underlying current of their replies obviously points to metal. “I think we all have a little metal in us. but Andrew just seems to be supercharged with metal. Seriously, he’ll say anything else is crap,” Schmitz said. Philp obviously accepted such a charge. “I like hardcore music, but metal is like vanilla ice cream from Bonanza,” Philp said.

But don’t let all this talk about metal and ice cream distract you from Safie’s true ambitions:
Matt: Our goal is to head out on pretty decent-sized tours and be able to make a name for ourselves.
Tim: Yeah, I’d say the band’s goal is to tour a little.
Andrew: A little? (jokingly) WANTED: new drummer. Tim, you’re out. This isn’t the first time. Basically, our main goal is to play shows in front of people who are happy.

From the looks of it, Safie sill reach its goal with Friday’s show. Safie fans young and old eagerly anticipated the imminent display of metal. Speechless junior Kyle Hesse could only say “Bring the mosh” while Bryan McCarty, 2003 CFHS graduee and self-proclaimed leader of the fabled 319 Crew, said, “I can’t wait to clear it out. It’s gonna be SIC!”

Indeed, Safie and its members have traveled a long way since its middle school stints in Guns and Roses cover bands adn the famed Frigid, and their new material is evidence to the fact that they have many productive years ahead of them, unless they keep kicking Tim out. Bottke said, “Teah, we hope to get really bad. And I mean like Michael Jackson ‘Bad,’ totally metal.”

Fittingly, Safie’s probable longevity can be summed up by a quote from the kings of metal, Iron Maiden (and Billy Joel, perhaps another king of metal), “Only the good die young.”

Safie will headline its CD release show at the Reverb in Cedar Falls on Friday, Feb. 20. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and opening bands include Attison Esche and Happy Sunshine 5. Visit wwwlsafiemusic.com for more information.

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