Interview: The Summer Set
Thu, 06 Jun 2013 11:32:38
"I try to write songs that are very true to me," proclaims The Summer Set singer Brian Dales.
He definitely accomplished that goal with the band's aptly titled new album, Legendary. Not only are these jams true to him, but they're bound to resonate loudly with listeners everywhere. It's a collection of kinetic and uber-energized rock locked and loaded with big pop hooks. The Summer Set live up to the record's title with their biggest, best, and brightest offering to date.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, The Summer Set frontman Brian Dales talks Legendary and so much more.
Did you approach Legendary with one vision or vibe in mind?
This is the longest we've ever spent making a record. At the start, we had no idea what the direction would be. We didn't really have a set theme in mind right away. It's always interesting to me. This is the first record we've made that has an eclectic array of producers. A lot of the songs are done with a handful of different people, yet I still feel it's the most cohesive, which is a bit backwards. I'm really proud of that fact. I think it's as cohesive as anything we've put together. We didn't want to make a record with one producer for four weeks again. We wanted to spend nine months—almost an entire year—and work on one song at a time.
Did that allow you to focus more?
It was the most stress-free and amazing album making process we've ever had. There were like fifty songs written dating back to last April when we first moved into the house together in Tempe, AZ. We wrote the first batch of songs. They kind of sounded like Everything's Fine, Part II. I don't think that was the direction we wanted to go again so we scratched some things. We were all living together so we were having a fun and amazing life experience.
How did that influence the music?
I learned a very important lesson as a songwriter, which was to "live first and write later". That resonated with me. I loosened and let go and had the best time of my life. I moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles, and I was really inspired. I was writing five songs per week over the course of several months. Legendary is an album about living and being the best person you can be.
What's the story behind "Boomerang"?
It was one of the last songs written for the record. It was written last December. John [Gomez] and I were in the studio with an old friend. We were messing around with the intention of writing a song. We did the music first, and we had this cool energetic track. As the session progressed, we landed on those lines, "If I was Jay-Z, you'd be Beyoncé. If I was Da Vinci, you'd be Mona Lisa". I've always been one for out-of-the-ordinary pop culture references to things. I was on board with the idea of them being the most out-of-place and tongue-in-cheek references they could be. To me, it turned into being a song about promising someone you loved the most outlandish and far-fetched things you could and conveying the fact you're never going to give up on her or you'll do anything. It really is one of my favorite songs on the record. It was fun to write. It was simple, fun, and almost mindless. We were going back and forth with each other trying to piece together the most ridiculous things we could.
What does "Legendary" mean to you?
On the record, that probably means the most to me. It's the most autobiographical for me personally. It dates back to about a year ago. We had just gotten off the road for the first time in three years and we had moved into that house together in Tempe. Everyone adjusted back to social domestic life quickly, except for me. I'd just come out of a relationship, and I wasn't in the best state of mind. One night, a week or two into living at the house, we were having a pool party. The band was outside with everyone swimming in the pool and hanging out. I was inside watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs. That moment resonated with me. I was like, "Brian, you've got to get your shit together, dude". I picked up my guitar and wrote this four-line chorus melody referencing watching How I Met Your Mother by myself and how I needed to get myself together. I went outside and showed John and Stephen, and they loved it. I think if they weren't a little inebriated, my favorite accident wouldn't have made it on the record [Laughs]. It turned into this song about growing up. It was therapeautic about life after the relationship I was in, life off the road, and getting older. It's about reminding yourself to have the mindset that we all deserve to be legendary at something or to somebody.
If you were to compare Legendary to a movie or acombination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I like this question a lot. I'm going to go with a conglomerate of The Breakfast Club, Can't Hardly Wait, and Silver Linings Playbook. The Breakfast Club is about finding yourself amongst a group of people who are all very different from each other. When we started making this record, it was the first time we'd gotten off the road in a long time. The five of us weren't so much about each other. We're all very different people, but we work very well together. Can't Hardly Wait is the first nineties teen drama that came into my head, and it's probably the best one. I say Silver Linings Playbook because I think this album was a major silver lining for me. It's about trying to be the best version of yourself you can be. That's what the record is about.
Have you heard Legendary yet?