The Decaturian

Good Safari takes it to the next level

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Good Safari takes it to the next level

Ellen Hoffman

Ellen Hoffman

Ellen Hoffman

Margaret Eby

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In the sea of wonderful classical music and musical theater being made at Millikin, it is always good to hear a band that provides something absolutely different. Well, Good Safari, now in its sixth month as a trio of Jake Pearson (vocals, guitar), Jeffrey Bensmiller (drums) and Ryan Martini (bass), offer that completely separate world that allows us to take a short break and let our wild college animal selves free.

“I can just drink beer, sit in a basement and make music. I don’t have to be high minded about it,” Martini, the band’s newest member, said. Their music is the kind that makes you want to scream, cheer, jump around, pump your fist and definitely play air instruments with them. “We’re wild and crazy, kind of grungy; it’s fun,” said Jake Pearson, lead singer of Good Safari.

And, Millikin students, as of this spring, you’ll be able to catalog their sound and experience in your iTunes forever. Good Safari is releasing their first album before the end of the year, as well as making a leap to playing a show at the Canopy Club in Champaign on April 1. With any first album, it is the time at which the band must define itself, who it wants to be and what their initial signature sound is going to be. “I think that was what I was most excited about,” two year veteran drummer Bensmiller said. “This band has gone through so many different shifts and changes and directions, but with this one, all the stuff that I think I’ve envisioned for the band can actually come to fruition…I think it’ll also change the way we do play live.”

Their music, a raucous mix of southern bluesy hooks, hard rock drum beats and in-your-face vocals, is irresistibly alluring. Whether in a dark basement on the weekend or driving in the left lane with the top down blasting the CD in your car, this music will have you letting loose emotionally and physically. One fellow musician’s comment is that Good Safari is “like one of those really good bands that plays a side stage at a festival, that’s not super famous, but is more legit,” Martini recalled.

Behind the emotion and physical freedom are three talented, intuitive and smart musicians who trust each other to know what direction they want to go and do a good thing. “Jake is definitely the primary songwriter, but he’ll send us stuff, and we’re like a filter,” Bensmiller said. “We’re a panel of acceptance,” Martini added on top. While Pearson usually writes the lyrics and the form, there is a definite collaborative effort on the direction of the song as a whole, and where the group will hit to create that perfect heart pounding moment.

Accompanying their loud, distortion-drenched sound are lyrics that can be just as rebellious and unruly. “It’s just an overall melancholic venture into young adulthood,” Pearson said. “It has themes that you’ll recognize, you’ll know what I’m coming from…it’s just a really beautiful project, and I think you can sense the revelry in that, in all three of us.”

This album, nine songs recorded in 28 hours, is both a DIY venture and a collaborative effort of many friends and colleagues. “We’ve been able to self-direct, and we’re self-producing,” Bensmiller said, but there are definitely a lot of people to thank. The band was able to record at Blue Box Records with Matt Talbott, Steve Berger and Josh Kotras. Also working closely on this project is Kyle Prillaman of Champaign’s That’s No Moon, another Blue Box band. They’ve enlisted recent Millikin grad Jess Black to provide album artwork and senior Ellen Hoffman to shoot photos.

So strap in or, rather, unhook and let loose for Good Safari’s upcoming show at The Canopy Club in Champaign and their upcoming album release. In the meantime, check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/goodsafariband and catch a listen of a few songs at www.reverbnation.com/goodsafari.

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Good Safari takes it to the next level