NU indie alternative rock band safety scissors sets sights high following successful first gigs


Photo courtesy of Maddie Farr

Left to right: Anika Wilsnack, Judy Lawrence, Maddie Farr and Hope McKnight. The four members of safety scissors performed their most recent show on April 15.

Caryl Shepard, Reporter

After attracting a large audience at its first few Evanston shows, the indie alternative rock band safety scissors looks to expand its presence at Northwestern. 

The quartet comprises Communication junior Judy Lawrence on guitar, Weinberg sophomore Anika Wilsnack on drums, McCormick junior Maddie Farr on vocals and guitar, and Weinberg junior Hope McKnight on bass. 

The group’s origins date back a few years. McKnight and Farr met when living in Sargent Hall their freshman year. After Farr unsuccessfully auditioned for a musical group her sophomore year, she decided to form a band of her own with McKnight.

Their idea became concrete during a conversation on the train last year, McKnight said.

“It was sort of this hypothetical, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we started a band?’” Farr said. “Then we actually did.”

The two put up flyers in search of more members, which Lawrence quickly responded to. Wilsnack later found the band through Instagram after the group had already played a few shows. 

safety scissors draws inspiration from a variety of influences — among them The 1975, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, My Chemical Romance, Paramore and boygenius — to form a coherent style.

“We each have our own slightly different musical styles and it comes together in this great glory of indie alternative rock,” Wilsnack said.

After rehearsing in spaces like the Wirtz Center’s practice rooms and the Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority’s basement, safety scissors played its first performance in January at Songwriters Association at Northwestern’s open mic.

Shortly after, the group played its first basement show with student band 99%. The members “hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since,” Farr said.

Since then, safety scissors has landed a few other gigs, including for The Daily’s Notes from the Newsroom series and another basement show with Parkhopper.

“I think each and every one has gotten better,” Farr said. “Of course, there was something really special about our first gig because it was ours and there was really exciting energy.” 

Despite her excitement at the group’s growth, Lawrence said the band’s members sometimes struggles to coordinate practice times and work around their busy schedules as full-time students at NU. 

As the group continues practicing, its members say they hope to break into the Evanston and Chicago bar scene — but getting their foot in the door remains difficult, according to McKnight. 

“(The bar scene is) just really hit or miss,” Wilsnack said. “Until you get to the point where people are reaching out to you to make a bill, it’s a lot harder to be the one trying to find the venue than for the venue to try to find you.”

Recently, McKnight said many more bands have started up at NU. As the school’s music scene continues to explode, she said safety scissors hopes to contribute to the growth. 

Ultimately, Farr said the band aims to continue refining its sound and play as many shows as possible. 

“Every week we get better and our songwriting improves and our sound improves and it’s more cohesive,” Farr said. “We just want to keep that going for as long and as far as we can.” 

Twitter: @carylshepard_

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