Like the previous band, Exham Priory I’ve had the privilege to watch The Safety Meeting live, quietly tucked away into a dark corner behind or to the side of the stage. Cradling a drink and watching on in awe as heart and lightning bolt energy collide. So it came as no surprise to me when I reached out to the band for an interview that I was met with a resounding, “Fuck Yes!” As I sent the question template over I anxiously awaited lead singer, Julian Burgio’s answers and when they popped up in my inbox I could feel his contagious energy behind every answer. I hope you feel it too, as I predict only bigger and brighter things for one of Buffalo’s most endearing bands.
PANDEMIC BORN HARD ROCK FROM BUFFALO, NY. THE SAFETY MEETING IS A CULMINATION OF BUFFALO ROCK MUSICIANS DERIVED FROM COVID-BORN BORDOM, TOO MUCH STIMULUS MONEY TO BE SPENT ON RECORDING GEAR AND STUDIO TIME, AND STUPID HIGHDEAS. THE BAND IS MADE UP OF JULIAN BURGIO (UNLEASH THE LION, FORMERLY OF LOOSEGROOVE), ANTHONY CARAMES (UNLEASH THE LION), TJ CUTAJAR (DAZE AGO), KEVIN SAMPSON (KEVIN SAMPSON AND THE NIGHTSHIFT AND LIKE 100 OTHER REALLY FUCKING COOL PROJECTS), AND MARC THOMAS (SHUTTERHEAD).THE BAND IS INFLUENCED BY 90’S GRUNGE, ALONG WITH LONG SWEATY AUGUST DAYS SPENT RUNNING FROM STAGE TO STAGE AT THE VANS WARPED TOUR CHASING DOWN 25 MINUTES SETS FROM THEIR FAVORITE 00’S ROCK BANDS.
QUITE FRANKLY, THESE DUDES FUCKING ROCK
When and where did you form?
We are Pandemic born and Buffalo based, but TJ is from Niagara Falls, and Anthony is a transplant from Westchester, NY.
How did you meet?
Well…. Anthony and I have been playing together in Unleash The Lion (a Pearl Jam tribute) for about 7 years. When the pandemic hit and everything shut down, I knew I wanted to use the time (and stimulus money) to take some of the songs I had been playing on an acoustic guitar and bring the sounds that I heard in my head to fruition. Anthony was my first call. He and I worked on our debut EP together.
Since then everyone else has kind of trickled in the door. Grosh, who you should absolutely check out, had one of the first shows in WNY when things started to open back up and I went to go see them. A few days later I posted On Facebook that I was looking for a drummer and bass player for the band and included our EP in the post. Within a few hours Megan from Grosh reached out and said her fiancé (now husband) might be interested in playing bass. I had never met Kevin at that point, but knew of him from the scene and social media and I was stoked to have him come jam. He’s an invaluable band mate.
Then came TJ. He responded that he could play drums for us, and so he joined us as our master of rhythm. I had met him a couple of times, and thought he was a killer songwriter and overall cool dude. Here’s the thing… if you know TJ you know he’s got a huge personality and phenomenal stage presence so we thought it would make sense to move him out of the back and put an axe in his hands. So a few months ago now, he made the seamless transition to guitar. Now, that obviously left us without a drummer.
Kevin introduced me to Marc at Music is Art over the summer and I felt like we really hit it off. I specifically remember a conversation we had about our shared love for bands like The Foo Fighters and Paramore. When Kevin mentioned to me that not only did Marc play drums, but he was interested in joining TSM I was fucking stoked.
I met me at birth. It was like 30 years ago so I don’t remember a lot of the details.
Where are you based out of?
We are based out of Buffalo, NY. Most of us live there or close, we rehearse there and spend the most time there.
What previous bands have you worked in?
So my first band was LooseGroove. We were kinda jammy, but it was mostly me playing an acoustic guitar while other players did their thing. Then came Unleash The Lion, which is a Pearl Jam Tribute. Anthony and I are in that together.
Something that I think is cool and super unique about us is that four out of five of us are lead singers in other bands.
Kevin has seemingly played with just about every band in Buffalo, NY and continues to do so. I’m sure I’m missing some, but he is the frontman to Kevin Sampson and The Night Shift, plays bass in The Scorch (Weezer Tribute) and Marc’s band Shutterhead. I’m certain I’m missing some of his current projects, and by the time this sentence is over he’ll be in three more. When you’re as talented as Kevin is, and as good of a dude to work with, you’re in high demand.
As mentioned before, Marc and Kevin also play in Shutterhead together. You’ve gotta check them out. They’ve also been in a couple previous bands together whose names I can’t quite remember.
TJ is the lead vocalist and guitarist in Daze Ago. That band is a reggae-rock punk infused band out of Niagara Falls and definitely gets the crowds moving.
What inspired your band name?
If you know what a “safety meeting” is we can be friends. If you don’t, a “safety meeting” is generally accepted vernacular for a secret meeting of those who partake in the herbal sacrament of consuming cannabis. Now, we’re not your typical stoner rock band, we don’t do reggae or sing songs about sinsemilla but everybody smokes weed these days, right? I’ll bet your grandma does.
So many… all of the 90’s grunge greats for sure, especially Pearl Jam and Nirvana. We also have a pop-punk streak in our blood. I try to blend those two things with this project. I was a sweaty kid running from stage to stage at warped tour every summer trying to catch my favorite emo/hardcore/pop-punk bands and I wanted this project to be nostalgic of that.
What was your first release?
We are a pandemic born band, so our first release was about 18 months ago, I think. I took a stimulus check (or two) and purchased all I needed to build a basic home recording studio and did all of the tracking at home. Then I took those stems to Doug White at Watchmen Studios in Lockport to be mixed and mastered. To quote Ben Folds, “producers with computers fix all my shitty tracks”. Now we do everything there. Doug is a godsend.
Where is it available?
Everywhere! Doesn’t everyone use Distrokid now?
The most challenging part of being a musician?
Generally, it’s time management in my experience. Keeping 5 guys on a syncopated schedule is tough. Especially when everyone is in several other projects and TJ and I are dads. But this project hasn’t had too much trouble with that so far. I think everyone genuinely enjoys the music and each other’s company and that helps a lot.
The most rewarding part?
Playing live is hands down the best part of being a musician. You literally get on a vibration train with everyone in the room and ride that fucker together. It’s magic in the real world.
Do you have any favorite local musicians past or present?
God yes. Probably too many to mention and I’m positive I’m going to forget many. But here’s a start:
Grosh is phenomenal. It’s literally unfair and should be illegal to have so much talent on one stage. I recently got to work on a side project with Josh and was unsurprisingly blown away by his musicianship. The whole band is stupid talented.
Sticking with the rock genre, 77 Stone is insane and none of them are old enough to drink yet. They make me think about the stupid shit I did when I was a teenager instead of practicing music.
Farrow is one of the most fun bands in WNY hands down. You will dance uncontrollably at their show unless you’re actually a robot. Michael Farrow is an unbelievable songwriter and the band really does his songs justice.
PA Line is phenomenal. I actually hired them to play at my wedding. Again, great musicianship and songwriting seems to be the theme here.
There’s dozens more. I’m going to go see Marc’s band open for Tuesday Nite at Milkies next week and I’m really excited to see what Sara Elizabeth and Courtney are doing with that.
Do you have advice for new musicians?
I’ll keep it simple.
1. Become a master of what you do.
2. Accept the fact that over half of this job is not playing music.
3. Work hard and be patient waiting for results.
What is your latest release?
Our latest release is a single called “W1ND^UP” (pronounced Wind Up). It’s got a nirvana vibe instrumentally, with a modern pop-punk sound vocally.
Where is it available?
Everywhere. If you can find music on the platform we are there. Even TikTok
What is your favorite Metallica album?
I’m going to piss everyone off here and tell a brief story about how I got into Metallica.
My first Metallica album was St. Anger and I actually loved it. Retrospectively it’s clearly not their best work and the snare does sound like absolute hot garbage being struck by a wet noodle. But at 11 or whatever age I was it fucking slapped.
We would love it if we got to meet your beautiful faces! Here’s our current show schedule but more will be coming soon!
4/2 Stamps (a benefit for the Ukrainian Red Cross)
5/21 12 Gates Jeep Club Topless Event
7/30 Micky Rats Summer Music Festival
Hope to see you at any or all of them!
If you are in an artist in a band or would like to see a specific band from Western New York, (Rochester more than welcome) of any genre features please reach out either here or on any of my social media profiles provided below.
I’d like to thank Julian for being Julian. And I wish all of you guys, nothing but the best.