By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“What hurts the most is that you’re ruining your life and I’m not there to stop you” has been quoted by fans aplenty of The Safest Ledge. A lyric from their song, “Lockwood,” the group calls it their most popular because it resonates with so many, even band members.
“I think about a lot of people in my life that I’d like to care for and I’d like to be there for them and everything, but you can’t and you see them go on this path to self-destruction and you want to help them and you want to do the most you can for them because you want to be there as a person to just help people do things and when you’re helpless in that situation, it really hurts. That’s definitely one of the more rough things in life is watching someone that means a lot to you just slowly start falling apart,” said Guitarist Mike Orf.
The song gives a perfect glimpse into the group’s catalogue, with spoken-word verses that lead into a melodic chorus accompanied by background screams and heavy guitars. A big moment for the band came only a year after their formation when they played with Hotel Books and had a long conversation with their Singer Cam Smith.
“It was pretty cool to see because at that point in time, we all idolized that band to a disgusting amount,” said Orf. “We wrote all of our music when we were doing a lot of things we were in a mindset that we wanted to be like Hotel Books. We want to capitalize on the spoken-word genre and really try and gain a following in such a niche little community.”
Guitarist Mason Boano, Vocalist Kennedy Conti and Drummer Joey Koval round out the rest of the lineup of the Youngstown, Ohio band, whose sound has progressed over time.
“We were really going for an emotionally-driven lyrical content without being a standard ‘cut and dry’ emo band,” Orf said. “We really wanted to try and be a little different with taking a lot of notes from a lot of those bands. I really feel like we’ve pretty much taken huge inspirations from the big boys in metalcore emo, kind of super emotional without being in the realm of being preachy or begging for attention.”
In fact, some might be surprised to find that as teenagers, The Safest Ledge guys were total metalcore kids themselves.
“We all still liked bands like Anberlin and Senses Fail and everything, but when we were teenagers, we were into We Came As Romans and Attack Attack! and it’s funny that none of our music now really reflects that, but there’s still a little bit of elements of that,” said Boano.
That being said, a source of frustration these days can be the feeling that there are less resources for rock music specifically.
“I think losing the Warped Tour was a gigantic blow to the rock music industry and the emo scene and all that because that was the pinnacle of what we all wanted our careers to be – to play the Warped Tour,” said Boano. “That platform was such a huge way to connect with kids and meet a huge audience and with it not being there now, it just becomes harder for rock music to find more kids.”
In 2017, they released their ‘Double The Drifters, Half The Spirit’ EP.
“I felt like a lot of that record conveyed the feelings of a lot of love, lust, happiness and depression and trying to find a lot of things out that you need to find in your life to be able to grow,” Orf said.
The Safest Ledge released their latest single “Runaway” in October 2018. The song was written by Koval/Conti, however, it was mostly inspired by a relationship of Koval’s that went sour. At the time it was written, they had four other songs, but all except “Runaway” were scrapped.
“It was funny because we were going to figure out which song of those five we were gonna record as a single and everyone in the band said ‘Runaway,'” said Boano. “It’s a pretty heavy song too. The flow of that song and everything is really in-your-face. It’s a straight-forward rock song and it just felt right. It just came to life and the song itself just feels huge. I think maybe for the sound we were going for, I think that song perfectly represented every aspect of the band in that sense.”
The band got to share the stage with As Cities Burn, as they played together at Mahall’s in Cleveland on Aug. 31, 2019, almost a throwback to when they got to play twice with Silent Planet, also in Cleveland.
“Silent Planet actually remembered who we were and even spoke about us during their set,” Orf said. “To me, personally, that was one of the biggest things, not even in the band, just in general, how life-changing that was, to see a band that we idolize so much, pretty much acknowledge our existence and really just go out of their way to be so kind.”
For Boano, the jump from being a local band to one that regionally tours now has been a huge deal.
“Sometimes, at the level you’re touring at, you’ll never know what you’re gonna see from a day-to day-basis,” Boano said. “Having a bunch of kids come up to us at the end of the set saying how great it was, other bands offering us places to stay or to hop on other tours, things like that, it just meant a lot because it was reaffirming that not only do we have the potential to do big things in the industry, but that we’re one step closer to our ultimate goal. I want to be the biggest band in the world and maybe that’s not realistically attainable, but that’s always what I’m gonna be working towards.”
The Safest Ledge are currently on the road again until early February 2020. As the colder weather settles in, the group found another way to engage fans while they patiently await new music – a podcast. It was launched in November 2019 and is appropriately titled “The Safest Podcast.” For them, the grind never stops and they hope they can continue to have people relate to their music in the way that they have with “Lockwood.”
“As we’ve gotten older, the emotional aspect of our music has matured to a point to where we’re talking about pretty standard ‘sad song’ things like breakups or getting over someone that you thought meant a lot to you or coping with a lot of changes in your life,” said Orf. “I really want to convey to people that we are sad, but we also know exactly what you’re going through in the mindset of listening to this music and that’s what it’s all really about in the end, is being able to feel something when you listen to our songs.”