Things have been going pretty good for Set It Off this past year. Last summer, the band got signed to Equal Vision Records and re-released their EP “Horrible Kids” through the label. Now, they are ready to release their full-length debut “Cinematics” in less than a week. The band has been making fans anticipate the release by releasing track-by-track videos for the album every few days. The band has decided to partner up with VH1 Save The Music Foundation by donating 1$ of every album sold before September 23rd so on top of being a big step in the band’s career, this album will also support music programs in school. This was very important for them because Cody and Dan met through their music program back in high school, which marked the very beginnings of Set It Off.
Last week, the band was in Montreal for the Sssummer Regrets Tour and right before they showed the crowd their explosive stage presence, I had the chance to chat with Cody, Dan and later Zach about the band’s milestones, the re-release of “Horrible Kids” and their upcoming album “Cinematics”.
CONFRONT: Can I have a little history 101 about the band, focusing on the big milestones?
CODY: We started in 2008, our first show was on July 25th.
CONFRONT: Wow that really stuck huh?
CODY: Yeah it was a big day for us; we always celebrate with our anniversary every year! We started without Max, we recruited him later. Dan and I went to high school together and we knew Zach and Austin because we used to play local shows together and we feel like we’ve known Max our entire lives so we’re basically like brothers. Milestones…we played our hometown Warped in 2011, we’ve been on some amazing tours that we’re so excited about. We signed to Equal Vision Records last year.
DAN: And recently, we were featured in “AP Recommends” for the last issue.
CODY: Yeah! We have a 2 page feature in Alt Press, it’s a first for us. It’s currently in the one out right now with Green Day.
CODY: We also got a full page back cover on the current Substream one. A lot of things happened so there are so many milestones but those are just some of them.
CONFRONT: Cool! So you guys signed to Equal Vision last year and when that happened, you re-released your EP right after. Was that really important for you guys?
CODY: Honestly, we could’ve just waited until now to have it be our first release but we didn’t want to. We already had all the songs done; the record was already written before we got signed. I love telling this story. The way we got signed, Dan had just emailed them a link to our music video and that was it. Usually, bands will write out a whole bio with why they should get signed so Francesca, our A&R, she read and thought “who the hell do they think they are?” So she checks it out and she’s actually really impressed with it so she contacted us. We had a showcase in New York at a place called the Vibe Lounge, it was sold out and it was just an incredible show. After that, they took us out for dinner and we got along with them really well; that’s what’s important to us about Equal Vision. We’re really good friends with the entire staff, or most of the staff.
CONFRONT: It becomes kind of like a family right?
CODY: Exactly! It really is a family-oriented label.
DAN: What was cool about the re-release is that it was written and when they contacted us, we were actually in the studio recording it and they hashed out the game plan between us and them to release “Horrible Kids” first with 8 songs and then re-release it and add the bonus track “Chase It”. They spruced it up a bit and made it look more professional.
CONFRONT: Did you have to redo anything?
CODY: No, because everything was done during the studio period so we already knew we were recording those songs, but we didn’t know that we were going to have a bonus track. So the tough part came to decide which of the songs we had just recorded was going to be a bonus track. But we didn’t have to redo anything because we already had it out ourselves. We knew we were going to be signed a little later and when it happened, they decided we were going to re-release it with that.
CONFRONT: That’s cool! And with your new album that’s coming out soon, did the writing/recording process differ at all because of the fact that you had a label behind you this time?
CODY: It doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact of being signed, it’s just when you start writing, you always start out with very little knowledge; you’re just on your own. As it starts happening more and more, Dan and I started getting more involved with the writing and we started learning that it’s possible to work with a producer and write songs with them. And every time you write with somebody new, you learn something about yourself in writing that you didn’t know before. We’re taking all these new knowledge and all these new tricks from other producers and other writers and ourselves and it allowed us to mature as writers. So the writing process has just become more professional.
DAN: We’re a little more confident going into the writing process. And we had a good amount of time too. Equal Vision gave us a good amount of time to figure out how we want these songs. And like Cody said, we definitely worked with different people to help broaden our horizons in our songs.
CODY: Another thing that’s really important about us as far as writing goes is we’re not afraid to get really blunt opinions about it. A lot of people don’t want to get negative opinions. Say, I wrote a song and I’m really protective of it, there are bands out there who will write and ask what you think and if you say it’s good but something could be better, they won’t take it.
CONFRONT: That’s true. And you need to be able to accept criticism.
CODY: Exactly! As soon as we get a song done, we show it to as many people as we can to get their blunt opinions. That helps us learn what we can do to improve on ourselves or that song and then we keep going until it’s to the best standards. What’s kind of funny is that the album is coming out in 2 weeks and we’re already writing for the next one.
CONFRONT: Wow! Dedication!
CODY: We’re constantly writing!
CONFRONT: What can you tell me about “Cinematics”, where did the title come from?
CODY: It was a tough one actually.
DAN: With “Cinematics”, we tried to find the best thing that could explain the album. “Horrible Kids” was kind of a concept album and with this one, we talked about so many different subjects; we touched some very light subjects and some very dark subjects. One of Cody’s strong points is he’s very strong lyricist and he creates a very strong sense of imagery and with the strong emphasis on orchestral parts in the background, with those dynamics and whatnot, the way it was put was very theatrical and it’s telling a story.
CODY: I think what we came down to was we wanted you to feel like you’re actually sitting down for a short film. If you close your eyes, we want you to be able to know exactly where you are.
CONFRONT: That’s interesting. So when you write it, is it in a specific order and is it meant to be listened to in a specific order?
CODY: It can be placed in different ways but there are certain songs that merge into each other and that are meant to do that. For instance, “Plastic Promises” into “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, but as far as the story goes, there’s no specific order.
DAN: Actually when you think about it, there are more tracks than that going into each other.
CODY: Oh they do, don’t they? The intro into that and then that one into the next…then we just gave up.
CONFRONT: Some bands do whole concept albums and when I put all my music on shuffle, it’s a little choppy.
CODY: Yeah we really appreciate that; there’s an album by From First To Last that I know was completely like that and we really liked it. But we didn’t want to do too much because then it can do that, like you said.
CONFRONT: Yeah I do enjoy songs merging into each other though, when I do listen to an album from start to end. And how would you compare “Cinematics” to your previous work?
CODY: I don’t want to cut down our previous work but it’s way better. We’re proud of everything we’ve ever done; you can’t be ashamed of your past. And we’re proud of the old songs we did but this new stuff is, not to sound cocky, it’s on a different level for us.
DAN: I think with our first EP, it’s still a genre that we love but it just wasn’t for us. Then, we took time to kind of find out what kind of sound we wanted. “Horrible Kids” was kind of that period where we were really locking in what we wanted. And with “Cinematics”, we knew what we wanted to sound like and what kind of band we want to be; here we go.
CODY: It was the official declaration of the Set It Off sound.
CONFRONT: Nice! And which song best describes the album as a whole?
CODY: I want to say “Nightmare” or “Sleep”, one of those two.
[At this point, Zach jumped in]
CONFRONT: What were some of your inspirations for the album?
CODY: What’s cool about the song-writing process is we have this core song written and then each person puts in their own little flair; that’s where the influences really hit hard.
DAN: We listen to a lot of different styles. Recently, we got into a lot of progressive alternative music. We were listening to a lot of the new Bayside record.
CODY: Pierce The Veil’s “Selfish Machines”.
DAN: So a lot of that guitar-playing came into play.
CODY: I’m a huge horror buff and I hate mentioning this because I don’t want people to think that I went for this but I get compared to this. I really like the Dark Knight trilogy and the way Heath Ledger portrayed the joker was just…the fact that I could watch the movie and actually feel uncomfortable, it was an inspiration to me because I wanted to be able to match my voice to the texture to make people change the way they feel based on what’s happening in the song.
CONFRONT: That’s really interesting, no one has ever mentioned being inspired by a movie.
CODY: I know, I just like that sort of stuff. Because again, with “Cinematics”, we want it to be theatrical.
CONFRONT: That’s true, it fits with the title.
CODY: Yeah so I guess that worked out really well.
ZACH: I feel like our band, we take a lot of inspiration from different places. We’re all completely different people when it comes to music, movies, TV, sports or whatever. We’re all different but at the same time, we’re all really good friends so we come together and I think we’ve found something really good here. We’re stoked about it; it’s awesome!
CODY: Yeah that’s true.
CONFRONT: Now, I’m going to ask you to draw something to represent yourself or the band as a whole.
DAN: The first picture that I drew is a chaos symbol and we tried to put a little adaptation to it because as performers, we like to say we have a very controlled chaos sound to us. You’ll see tonight that we definitely beat ourselves up a little bit on stage, not physically but we go very hard.
CODY: I do. *laughter*
DAN: Yeah he does.
CONFRONT: Does that ever take its toll on you guys?
CODY: Eventually. I have some scars.
ZACH: I also hit myself on the head a little bit and I’ll be showering and I’ll feel bruises and welts.
DAN: But we do a lot of stretching!
ZACH: I think we do it because Cody always explains it as therapy onstage.
DAN: Yeah, it’s our best way to emote.
ZACH: Being onstage, there’s nobody and it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of you. You just do what you want.
CODY: Yeah when you’re on tour, there are so many stressful things that happen and you can’t always talk about it right away and so basically, what you can’t say in person, we just kind of let out on stage; any negative emotions. That’s why a lot of people go to shows; it’s an outlet for a lot of people. Not everyone can afford a therapist or has a friend they can just sit down and talk to. As much as it is an outlet for someone to go and let their agression out watching a band, it’s the same for us to let our aggression out on stage. And I drew a dream catcher because we have a song called “Dream Catcher” and it means a lot to me as well because all of us have lofty goals, whether it be this or maybe there’s other things we want to tackle later on in life. I’m a very goal-oriented person and I want to be able to capture everything that I want to be.
ZACH: I drew a cat because cats are mysterious and we’re kind of mysterious.
ZACH: I didn’t know what else to draw.
CODY: It’s a really good cat though!
CONFRONT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CODY: Please check us out, our album “Cinematics” drops on September 18th. Please come to a show because we’d like to be your therapy.
CONFRONT: Thank you!
CODY: Thank you so much!
Here’s a short clip of the interview that we posted up on Youtube!
And if you want to check out the band, here are a few links:
Official site : http://setitoffband.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/setitoffband
Twitter : https://twitter.com/SetItOff
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/user/setitoffband