ATP! Interview: The Summer Set
The world has already been treated to two tracks and a variety of YouTube fan-shot live recordings of new songs from the album, which are all arguably worthy of being radio singles in their own right.
With this said, we couldn't think of a better time to sit down with members Brian Dales and John Gomez to conduct their first tell-all interview about Legendary and what the band has planned for 2013.
Alter The Press: The new album has been officially announced. How does it feel to finally be able to talk about it?
Brian Dales (vocals): Like this giant heavy world is off my shoulders and now out to the rest of the world. We'll see. I'm excited. The hard part is over it's just seeing what the response is. It's done. There's no turning back now!
ATP: Is there a story behind the album title, Legendary?
Brian: The last song on the record, 'Legendary', was the first song that made the album. It was the first that was written. I think the song was a bit of a turning point in general for us. It was the beginning of last summer, we had just gotten off tour, we had just moved into a house together in Tempe, Arizona, and living with each other for the first time.
John Gomez (guitar/vocals): There was a night where a conversation happened and an argument kind of broke out. It was about "What the fuck kind of band are we? Are we a pop-punk band?" and it opened up this fight. We all went into a room with our friends who were over at the time and said "We need to settle this now. We are in this house and it's happening right now. We need to decide what genre we are."
We all said that we like pop music and try and do this alternative/pop thing and just try and be the best band we can be.
Brian: Like John said, we were all in different places, but how do we come together as one and figure out what record we want to make? We were all living in a house together and finally lightened and loosened up more.
One night, I was hanging out by myself in the living room like an anti-social brat, watching the season finale of How I Met Your Mother while everyone else was partying and having a good time. A fan of ours tweeted and said, "If you like How I Met Your Mother so much, why don't you write a song about it?" and so fuck yeah, I did it. I picked up my guitar and wrote this silly little chorus idea, but at the time I thought the melody was cool, and it's kind of funny, I played it to a kind-of intoxicated John and his brother [Stephen, bass] and they both liked it. I don't think if they were totally sober they would of gone with it because at the time it was just a silly chorus that was kind of out there.
John: I woke up the next day and started writing a pre-chorus. The song turned into something about how to be a better version of yourself, which translated into the entire album and the experience of us inspiring ourselves and being the best version of ourselves as possible.
When the record started coming into play, we said that it had to be called 'Legendary'. That song kind of broke up the battle about what we were doing and after hearing back how the songs sounded, everything started falling into place. It was like "Wow! This is what we are supposed to sound like!"
Brian: It was a way to remind ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves that we could be and always trying to have that hope that you would be legendary to someone. It was a pretty universal message and I hope it inspires everyone else.
ATP: How would you describe the album in comparison to your back catalog?
Brian: Going into this record, we wanted to take a look at Love Like This and figure out the best things were and look at Everything's Fine and see what the best characteristics were. We wanted to go into this record with the things we learned from those two but also trying to figure out the x-factor of this third album. What I love about Love Like This is the energy that it had and it's kind of lyrical sarcasm. It was very tongue-in-cheek and had this voice that was cool. While we are not this pop-punky kind of band, there was an energy we wanted to imitate again with this record.
John: Our single 'Boomerang' is very in the vein of Love Like This. It's goofy and we don't give a fuck. We'll say "Jay-Z and Beyonce"…
Brian: John and I wanted to push the boundaries about how goofy of a lyric you could write.
Everything's Fine was an important record because it's trials and tribulations of a relationship and I'm glad we did it but it was the attitude that I wanted to get back with this album that Love Like This had.
ATP: Why did you choose 'Boomerang' as the lead radio single for the album?
John: It wasn't a no brainer.
Brian: Usually immediately I know what my favorite song on the record is, but on this one, I don't have one. I just think with 'Boomerang', the first one is always the hardest one as far as radio. You need to kick the door open and just make a name for yourself to hopefully, if you're lucky enough, to get a followup. Getting one is always the hardest but 'Boomerang' is the one song i'm the most proudest of. It was the obvious first choice for, it has just enough of what the radio wants.
John: It really represents the rest of the album. When you go into 'Legendary,' you hear the How I Met Your Mother references and with 'Jukebox (Life Goes On)', you hear the Dawson Creek references which kind of softens the blow a little bit.
Brian: It's fresh and familiar enough but hopefully can create a way for The Summer Set as band to fit in amongst those faces on radio. Radio is kind of a tricky game and we're excited to try and play it for the first time.
ATP: What are you favorite songs from the record and why?
John: Right now, one of my favorites is '7 Days,' which was one of my least favorites but somehow, I've really grown to it and 'Lightning In A Bottle'. One night Brian and I had finished writing and were driving around LA and just put the windows down and played the song. I thought, if to take something from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, "This song makes me feel infinite."
Brian: The song is called 'Lightning In A Bottle' because it's about having this youthful feeling. It's cliche and ironic but once we left the studio and had a rough bounce of it, we got in my car, picked up some friends and the way I listened to it for the first time was the way I exactly wanted to feel when listening to it. It was fucking cool.
John: Those are my two.
Brian: I'm going to narrow three down.
'Maybe Tonight' was the first time we worked with Dan Book and Alexi Misoul, who produced eight songs on the record. A day or two later we got a bounce of the song back and it was kind of this cool moment where it felt like I was listening to my band for the first time. I was like, "Holy shit! That's what The Summer Set sounds like! That's rad."
The last song we wrote for the record, 'Someday'. We had narrowed down 12 songs out of 40 and it was done. I was in LA as a last minute thing for New Year and out with some friends. I got a little too drunk and made a fool of myself and did some things I wasn't very proud of. The next morning, I called Dan and told him that our record was done, that we had picked the songs and he knew what he was working on but I couldn't fight this feeling that I wanted to write one more song. I had this idea, asked what he was doing, he said nothing and told me to come over. I didn't tell our label, management or even John. I just wrote the song…
John: I woke up in the morning to an e-mail saying "Boom" and then I listened to it. I called him immediately and said "This song is going on the album!"
Brian: It was one of the prouder moments for me. It felt like, when that song was done, I felt complete.
One of my other favorites is this song called 'Heart On The Floor'. At the time it was written, it was so different to anything we had ever done, almost this gospel time vocal sound, hip-hop beat. I sent it to John thinking no one would like this song.
Those are my three favorite songs right now. I'm really proud of all three of those. I'm fucking proud of all of them! [laughs]
ATP: You said you had to pick 12/40 songs. Will the other songs ever see light of day?
Brian: A couple will be b-sides..
John: There are a few that we want to release, maybe six months out..
Brian: John and I have done this record, doing one song at a time, meeting people/collaborating. I think it helped grow my songwriting mentality. A good song I feel will always find its home, whether its with us or with someone else. I used to think of these songs as kids that I didn't want to give up for adoption and I don't have that mentality anymore. If I don't use it, I want to the song to get used. If I think it's a great song and I want people to hear it. I want to see maybe if anyone else wants to use any of these songs and cut it or maybe, we use it again and make it fit.
ATP: For someone who has never heard of The Summer Set until this record and had to pick a track to listen to for the first time, what should it be?
Brian: 'Maybe Tonight' or 'Boomerang'.
John: 'Boomerang' or 'Lightning In A Bottle'. Age depending.
ATP: This year is definitely the year of pop music. We have new music from you guys, Justin Timberlake, The Cab etc. Which albums are you looking forward to the most?
John: Justin Timberlake and The Cab.
Brian: I'm the biggest Justin Timberlake fan and just heard 'Mirrors' for the first time for the other day and it's eight and half minutes of pure gold. No one can pull off an eight minute pop song. It's just unbelievable.
I'm also excited for the new Jimmy Eat World record and the new Fall Out Boy record.
ATP: What's planned for 2013 after your appearance on this year's Warped Tour?
Brian: Nothing planned yet. I would love to go back to the UK in the fall, I want to go back to the Philippines and we'll do another US tour in the fall. I'd love to, fingers crossed that 'Boomerang' takes off on pop radio, I'd love to do a tour that was a little outside of our boundaries. I think we're ready and the best we've ever been as a band. I think we would be able to hold our own on a tour thats a little different.
ATP: So the goal for 2013, after Warped, would you say is to hopefully jump on a pop tour like hypothetically opening for Ed Sheeran…?
Brian: That would be crazy and I would not say no to that.
John: That's a dream. We've been in this scene for a long time and created our own fan base. Our fans our completely 100% 'scene' and some are actually a different group of fans. It's a little different and I want to start inviting new fans in.
Brian: I'd love to go on tour with OneRepublic, they have a new record coming out. I'm such a huge fan of that band! That would be cool.
John: In 2014, I still want to be this exhausted.
ATP: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Brian: We are probably going to be playing in your city sometime this year, if you are reading this. Don't miss it.
- Jon Ableson
Legendary will be released on April 16th through Fearless Records.