Safari Room

Nashville’s Safari Room has released a new song, “Small Victories.”

“Small Victories,” the newest offering from Nashville’s thoughtful alternative ambassadors Safari Room, imaginatively blends colorful elements of new wave, indie and anthemic post-rock.

“We’ve been listening to a lot of that stuff lately that makes the hair on our arms stand up,” said vocalist/guitarist Alec Koukol. “I think we wanted to see that in what we do.”

It’s an emotionally in touch and creative blending of heady sounds that speaks to the mindset of its members, and to the idea behind the band’s vibrant moniker.

Koukol moved to Music City from the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, in 2013 to attend Belmont University, where he met his bandmates, who hailed from places like Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.

Yet Koukol’s quintessentially Midwest upbringing spent doing his share of “dancing in his head” informs the band’s focus.

“I think the name really evolved from when I was growing up, when quieter times sort of bred imagination for me,” Koukol said. “I was an avid illustrator growing up. I wanted to be a comic book artist. Just pen and paper, what that can bring about? Or even something as childish and simple as stories I would weave into my Lego characters.

“It’s that idea that creation can come out of anything you imagine, and Safari Room is about how you use that to keep going.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic allowed bands to take to the road again, the self-funded Safari Room is doing a relatively large amount of “going,” venturing out four to five days a month at the current juncture.

Meanwhile, each member holds down a day job, whether as a Nashville musician for hire, a church’s IT specialist or working for TikTok, of all things.

And these days, Koukol’s “solitary” time is spent with his bandmates rather than alone, together affirming bonds and forming firm tenets while making off for new horizons.

“We kind of try to remember it’s friends first and music second. Sometimes, it’s like these are things that we’ve got to be, because that’s how it lasts,” Koukol said. “Being on the road is some of the most fun we have, just because we’re all a bunch of idiots in a van trying to go make it happen. It’s really good camaraderie and good creativity.”

During those journeys, the well-oiled gears turning inside the minds of Koukol and his bandmates — guitarist Chris Collier, drummer Austin Drewry and bassist Hunter Mulkey — might mirror the inner workings of the van’s unceasing motion.

“We have a lot of really good deep conversations,” Koukol said. “We talk about things, and it’s like ‘Why isn’t this easier to talk about with other people?’ Or ‘Why is this so stigmatized to have to bottle up?’ “

Those conversations inevitably spill out and over onto Safari Room’s songwriting canvas, providing new colors with which to work.

“A lot of that is what Safari Room is for us, a catharsis musically and lyrically for things that are difficult to engage with people about,” Koukol said. “But in music, it’s like a spoonful of sugar with medicine. It’s easier to take that down when it’s meaning something to you, and so I think we’re all very open there.”

But the tone doesn’t stay serious either.

When not diving directly into introspection or social issues, the band sometimes quite literally explores how to avoid getting too full of itself, true to the “anything goes” sensibilities of a generation of podcast-loving adult millennials.

“On a less serious note,” began Koukol with a hearty laugh, “one of the things we talk about is our digestive systems. It’s one of those things that no one is ever comfortable talking about.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” said an obviously amused Koukol. “Especially on the road. It’s difficult.”

Conversely, what seemingly hasn’t been at all difficult for the group is allowing its sound to evolve on “Small Victories.”

The track marks a shift, even if only a one-off, from the more subdued sound heard on its first full-length album, “Look Me Up When You Get There,” produced by renowned Berry Hill producer Paul Moak.

“I love like drastic changes in sound,” said Koukol of “Small Victories.” “And I think this song is, like, it’s kind of a middle finger to people who, like, ride the dial on the volume control.”

The song will feature on a yet-to-be-named album to be released in the first half of 2022. Koukol said it’s a project that can’t help but to have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The first song’s thesis is kind of sometimes stopping and having some stasis is a good thing,” Koukol said. “And I’m the first one to, like, kind of spit in the face of that idea. I’m very much always run in hamster wheels in my head.”

Those same wheels that first produced the idea of Safari Room will continue driving the band toward whatever future might await it as its members look to ramp up their touring schedule in the coming months.

But regardless of where the road takes them, Koukol and company will have their hearts and minds in the right places, taking in the many small victories along the way.

“This lottery ticket, for a lottery ticket, for an opportunity is so baffling,” Koukol said. “But for me there’s just an immense love of that electricity that comes whether it’s just me going to the guitar or piano, singing in the shower, playing with other people in a room, or playing on a stage to people and connecting.

“There is just something kind of unseen, unspeakable, that happens, and that energy is so riveting and so important.”

Recommended for you