Set Your Goals have been one of my favorite pop punk bands since their second album, "This Will Be The Death Of Us" leaked in June of 2009; this is an example of how downloading allows someone to get into a band -- I now own 4 different pairs of shorts, as well as their albums. I remember once being allowed to paypal Matt Wilson for the first pair of shorts on the "Gig Life" tour in 2009; I've always appreciated that. I've had a great time with Set Your Goals for almost 3 years now; they have one of the more entertaining live shows in the scene.
Vocalist Jordan Brown and I chatted for a good while about what's going on with Set Your Goals, including two new tracks, which were produced by New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. Of course, when we started to chat...it was starting to rain -- Oregon weather.
First off, how's the tour been going for you guys?
Really good, it's awesome. Cartel is a band that we've wanted to play with for 8 or 9 years. When we were doing our records, they would put out a record like 6 months before we'd go in to record each record; most people don't realize how big of an influence they were on Mutiny. It's maybe a band that people wouldn't think to pair us with, it's really to have them on tour. Fireworks is great, they have a new record, Gospel. Mixtapes are great, i've known Ryan for 6 or 7 years now. Super Prime are all really nice guys too.
Until recently, you had been playing some different stuff from your current album Burning With Both Ends on this tour; how excited were you to do that?
Really excited. It sucks as you know about Dan leaving for home to be with his dad, but we had a feeling he might've had to do that anyways. We learned all the songs on the record to play live; before he left, we got to play "Trenches", and "Illuminated Youth" with Andrew Neufeld from Comeback Kid in San Antonio, which was cool. We also got a chance to play "Start The Reactor", "Product of the 80's", and "Certain"; Certain is not just one of our favorites to play from our new record, but out of all of our records.
How did you decide which songs to pick for the setlist from the album?
Well, what the plan was before Dan went home was to literally pick a few new ones every night that we liked, and then after the tour is over, pick a few to do through future tours. Some of the songs that we never got to play other than sound checks were "Not As Bad", I really wanted to do "Raphael" on this tour, I really like that song.
You've been touring really heavily for quite a long time. I mean, you've done a couple of years on Warped Tour, "Pop Punks Not Dead" [New Found Glory headliner], some overseas dates, and then this headliner; this is the 3rd time you've hit the U.S. in the last 9 months or so. How excited are you to finally sit down and record a new record?
Really excited; we just did two new songs with Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory. It was a really good connection; We've all done shows together and known each other for awhile. These are two of the songs that i'm most proud of; the recording process was the easiest it's ever been, especially for the vocals and the lyrics, which is what I stress out about the most. We were just able to get what we wanted to say across. He was just a really good presence, and it felt like he was a part of the band writing with all of us.
With Chad continuing to work with you guys on your fourth full-length record, how has he been pushing you guys to write the best record that you can put out as a band?
He is very motivated to have us put out the best Set Your Goals record. He wants us to do some "throwback" stuff, but he really wants us to be excited on the songs; with us being influenced by some of the music that he's been involved with himself, he sort of knows what we're going for. If you hear some of the demos to what we ended up doing, he had the best arrangement ideas. I felt like I had reigns again; I felt like he wasn't telling me what to do, but...
Yeah, encouraging. Not that Brian McTernan wasn't, but he taught us that we needed to have songs ready; just a different kind of encouragement.
Speaking of these two new songs, what are they called and what are they about?
They're called "Only Right Now" and "I'll Walk It Off"; they'll be a digital bundle on iTunes through Epitaph Records. We might press it at the end of the year with another song or a cover song.
The songs reflect two perspectives:
"Only Right Now" is about being when you're in a serious relationship or friendship and you hurt someone and it sucks, you have to learn about it. You're saying that "I didn't mean to hurt you, i'm trying not to hurt you". I think people might be thrown off and be like "Oh, they're writing these relationship songs...". We really try to not think of it like a boy/girl relationship, but really how you connect to people.
"I'll Walk It Off" is the other side of that, and being hurt, and learning how to love someone despite someone hurting you, and saying "I'll walk it off, and we'll be alright". Hopefully people are into it, i'm really excited about the music, the guitar work was great.
Since you're going to go straight back into the studio after this tour with Chad, what other lyrics have you written for this album?
I wrote a song about being clear headed, we almost recorded it earlier; I think we'll put it on the record. It's about being sober, not exactly straight-edge and that extremity, but bettering yourself; sometimes people go through self-destructive patterns, and it's about growing up and being a positive influence.
I want to write songs about being motivated and really persevere and get through hard times. People might think it's cheesy, because a lot of bands are doing the whole "Fight!" thing. We want to be a positive and motivating influence for people that listen to us; we're not trying to cry on songs, we're trying to bring out emotion in the right way. We're trying to make people go out and be active and do something. I think it'll be something like Mutiny was lyrically; it was a very driven and determined record, where This Will Be The Death Of Us was a very introspective look and what we're all learning, and Burning At Both Ends was a conclusive look at being a band for 8 years and how we've gone through stuff. This record will be a throwback to what Set Your Goals started on.
So can we expect more call to action songs like "Gaia Bleeds" and "Our Ethos"?
Yeah, I want to get more small non-profits involved like we did with Gaia. We want to continue to work with some small non-profits that don't make as much money. We're doing a thing with First Act guitars on this tour where they're doing raffle tickets, and I think we're giving away three things. I really want to work with a place called The Stand, located in Concord, CA, where I'm from; they help battered men, women and children and meet their needs. I saw a really cool documentary about wildlife in Alaska, and maintaining life and habitat for Grizzly Bears; they're fascinating, amazing, and beautiful animals...anything to do with sustaining life. We'd like to expand some more, so yeah -- I think "A Call to Action" was a really good description, so good job.
If you were to include some guest vocalists on this new album, who would you reach out to?
Ooh, that's a good question...but a hard question because we've pretty much gotten the chance to sing with everyone who we've wanted to sing with. I think it'd be cool to just sing with our friends at this point; people like Dave from Fireworks, Will from Cartel -- he has an incredible talent for recording. Alex [Gaskarth] from All Time Low would be my other pick. I think All Time Low and Fireworks are kindred bands, we've done the most tours with them. Those guys would be the first people i'd reach out to.
You guys are doing a Jawbreaker cover on this tour; what can you tell us about that band?
Dude, they had a huge influence on us; they were one of the first pop-punk bands that I heard, they were from our area. Sam I Am is similar to them, and fit in a similar genre, both being from northern California. We were asked to do a compilation record in 2005, where they asked all the bands to cover older bands from the area, and we chose Jawbreaker; the compilation never ended up coming out, so we ended up putting it on our demo re-release, and people really liked it and have been asking for it lately.
Jawbreaker got to work with producer Rob Cavallo (Dear You, 1995), he's done records with Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and Weezer; but above all else, those Green Day records, Dookie and Insomniac and more. Cavallo's did the most recent Paramore album too, Brand New Eyes. It was really cool, seeing him working with Green Day and Jawbreaker and them being from our area.
Have you thought about putting out a live DVD in the future?
It'd be awesome; we're actually in the process of putting a tour video up from Albuquerque right now. I wish we had video from South By Southwest -- it was so awesome; we did a show with Cro Mags and Power Trip -- have you heard of Power Trip?
DUDE, ok -- Power Trip is the tightest new band ever, they're going to be so massive.
Where are they from?
They're from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They all used to play in a band and Riley, their singer has been someone we'd kept in touch with; he came to hang at the New Found Glory tour, and I hadn't seen him a couple years. Luis And when we saw him we're like "Holy shit, what's up?"; our friend Luis was teching for us at the time, he does vocals in an awesome band, Alpha and Omega. So Riley's like "yeah, we came to see Luis and you guys". Then our friend Neighborhood was like "Hey, you gotta check out Riley's new band Power Trip. They're like Exodus, 80's/90's thrash metal".
Anyways, Mightier Than Sword records put on this showcase and they went on after us, and it was 21+, and I remember tweeting about how much that age limit sucked. Power Trip went on stage and the singer goes "Hey, how many people are under 18 years old?" and literally half the crowd raises their hands; like all these kids snuck in this show, and they're all that young. People started getting out of hand real quick, we started throwing this huge tent on stage, and RJ goes "No no no, you can't do that, I'm gonna lose money", so I felt hella bad and we chilled out, but people were throwing trash cans and stuff. The Acacia Strain in Portland? [Warped Tour, in which Port-O-Potties got tipped over and stuff got progressively more intense as time moved forward] It was a lot like that, so you sort of have an idea.
But yeah, Power Trip -- I think collectively, they're on our favorite band right now.
I don't know how I got on that story...but yeah -- Live DVD... I'd like to do that.
Yeah, it's more or less the opportunity for people to watch your band if they're unable to see your band because of geographical location or some other reason.
I think it's a really good thing. We did a live DVD in 2007 that ended up not coming out because of music copyrights; something surfaced from it eventually, but it was just a bunch of clips. Parkway Drive is a really good example on how to put a good DVD out, Converge has a good one, MxPx has one, Blink-182 has DVD's that are always enjoyable. So yeah, hopefully we do one eventually.
What is one book and one band that you'd recommend to anyone that listens to Set Your Goals and why?
Read The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon by John Joseph, the original lead singer of the Cro Mags. I think anyone who listens to this type of music that wants to know where it originated from. If you don't read, there's an audiobook form, and it's just as compelling because he narrates it. I don't know if Jimmy Gestapo from Murphy's Law has a book out, but if you can find one, he has amazing stories of growing up in the city and whatnot.
As for a band, I would say any band from our area; really old Green Day is what i'd suggest, because stuff like Kerplunk through Insomniac played a huge influence on us -- I played in bands that sounded like that, often times in VFW halls. So yeah, i'd definitely suggest older Green Day.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I would like to say a big thank you to Absolutepunk and the people in the forums; this is the only website that i'm signed up for and feel like I read the most. There's those sites that turn down news, you guys just want to be involved.
But also, please check out the new songs that will come out on iTunes, "Only Right Now" and "I'll Walk It Off" -- produced by Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, recorded with Paul Minor who played in Death By Stereo, and it was mixed by Kyle Black, who is the assistant to Mike Green who recorded This Will Be The Death of Us. There's some sounds that are similar to The Fallen demo. Thanks.
I'm glad they're finally not getting hate on here like they used to. And Power Trip is from my hometown which is cool because they've worked pretty hard to get a following and it looks like its finally going to happen nationally. Good job dudes!