Nico Walker’s Cleveland band Safari is a throwback to the days when bands didn’t have promotional campaigns, or QR codes, or what Walker deems “any of that bullshit.” Safari is a band devoid of bullshit—what you hear really is what you get. The band’s characteristically low-fi mix of fuzzed-out guitar and shuffle beats, coupled with Walker’s breathy croon, takes center-stage on its latest record, Maybe Tomorrow. The band has played with artists like Tokyo Police Club, opening for the Canadian rockers on their stop in Cleveland.
Safari has undergone a few lineup changes since its inception in 2008—the band has gone through one guitarist, two drummers and two bassists, with Walker remaining the only constant member. Walker described the trials and tribulations of being a new band starting out, nonetheless saying, “Through all our incarnations we have tried to take pride in playing a respectable gig.” As it stands, Safari is the trio of drummer Marco Nerone, bassist Douglas Roj and Walker on vocals and guitar.
Safari is a band that prides itself on a lack of pretension, and as a result Walker seemed reluctant to push Safari’s publicity. “There is a fine line between promoting a band and being a tool,” he said, “and I wanted to be on the right side of that line.” An example of that occurred when Walker’s tour of duty as a medic in Iraq was used for Safari’s promotional one-sheet, which irked the songwriter: “I felt that it was an insult to people who were killed and seriously injured and their families, and if I could take it back I would.”
Safari is striking out to refine its sound with its current lineup, with Walker taking charge. He insists on keeping the focus on the music, which the songwriter claims is stronger than it’s ever been. That said, Walker doesn’t seem to be perturbed by the struggles Safari has faced and (as all bands do) will face in the future. “Anything could happen,” he shrugs, but it’s less apathy speaking than the wisdom to know when to shut up and let the universe run its course.
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