The Summer Set is a pop rock band straight out of Arizona with some of the catchiest and most meaningful songs. They formed almost 10 years ago and have done a lot in their career as a band considering how young each member is. The five-piece were in a rut recently where they felt like their time was up as a band. Then, they decided to release their fourth album titled Stories For Monday, and continue their career together to see where it takes them. I had the chance of talking with Brian Logan Dales, the vocalist of the group, about this situation and the fate of the band from here on out. Spoiler alert: The Summer Set isn’t going anywhere. Read what Brian had to say about some songs on the new album, touring, performing at a Bernie Sanders rally, and more below.
Congrats on the new album! I know this album was kind of unplanned when it comes to actually being released being that you guys were just about to announce that you were breaking up. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
We took a long time making the album. There were a lot of trials and tribulations in the process of making this fourth album and at one point we got to a breaking point that was so tough. We sat down as a band and we thought maybe that we had run our course and that maybe it was time to call it a day. And then from there, we decided that maybe we should just take the songs that we have, self-produce the record, by John and Stephen Gomez, the brothers of our band, and put one last album out as a “farewell” album, and then that would be it, we were breaking up.
And then there was a silver lining to the whole thing because it allowed us to take a step back and stop overthinking everything and make a record with the tools we had and go back to the basics. When we finished making the album, we realized we were so proud of it, and that was the best body of work we had ever done. We realized that maybe this journey wasn’t quite over yet.
Did this situation make the writing and recording process different than past albums?
It made the recording process different. We actually didn’t write anything new from that point. We used all songs that I had already finished writing. The writing process was very different. I did a lot more of the writing on my own. I did a lot of traveling in the process of writing these songs and was just really on the search for inspiration. We finished Warped Tour 2014 and then we finished touring off of Legendary and we were really burnt out and I had nothing to say. I just really wanted to find out what and why I was writing a record and what for. We got to the point where we decided on the songs and we had John and Stephen produce them themselves, and I think it gave us a new sonic outlook on things and it let us make a record that sounds more like us than anything we’ve done before.
The song “Figure Me Out” I think was very powerful to start the album with and to release as your first single after a few years. I think it can resonate with a lot of your listeners. Can you reflect a bit more on this song?
So that song was the last song written for the album, even though it’s the first song on the album. It like to think that song made all of the other songs make sense cohesively. I wrote that song at my parents’ house in Arizona in July of last year, shortly after we had just wrapped up a tour that we didn’t really want to be on. Nothing against the tour, it was just that we weren’t really in a spot as a band where we were that close or we were touring for the right reasons. We were looking to buy some time from making this album. We did this tour and we were not in the right mood to be there and the tour finished and I called my mom really depressed and lonely. I said, “Hey, I’m going to come there for a couple weeks. I don’t really know, I have no interest in writing music. I don’t even want to think about music. I’m just a little down and out.”
Then, one night at my parents’ house at one in the morning, while I was alone, I started a capella freestyling, I didn’t even have an instrument in my hand. I started freestyling lyrics back and forth, “I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids/I’m too punk for the pop kids,” and all these other contradictions of who I am and where I’m at in my life and where I want to be and where I come from, and I laid it all on the table. I’d rather just say it all myself than give somebody the opportunity to say it about me. The song didn’t really make sense until I ended up sitting down in the living room on the piano and striking the first chord and singing the lyric, “I believe there’s more to life than all my problems.” Then all of the sudden, we had “Figure Me Out.” I sent it to John and Stephen just as a voice note on my iPhone and they said, “This is something really cool.” Then, they brought the song to life.
On the other hand, I think “Wasted” was a nice and positive song to end the album with. Lyrically, it is pretty uplifting when it comes to living life to the fullest during your youth, even if there is no grander scheme to life. That was at least my take on the song, so would you say that is accurate?
That’s absolutely what it is. That was kind of our “just in case.” It’s like, I’m going to live this one out and do everything I can to the absolute fullest and try to really make every moment amazing, even if there’s no grander reason why. I think it’s that the first parts is basically what The Summer Set is and where we came from, and the first time we left the deserts of Arizona, got the van and started touring around the country.
You supported Sleeping With Sirens’ acoustic tour and I know that you are doing acoustic sets as part of your VIP package on this tour, so is it safe to assume that you’re a fan of acoustic performances?
Yeah, definitely a fan of acoustic performances. To me, a song is only as good as it is performed acoustic. That’s kind of my rule. If a song is still good when I just play it on piano or acoustic guitar, then it’s a good song. Playing acoustic and showing folks that we’re just a really good band acoustic with songs that we’re really proud of is something I really like to do.
What else is going on during this tour when it comes to production and the setlist?
The only real major thing with this tour is that we’re playing the longest set we’ve ever played. We’re playing for 90 minutes a night, it’s 20 songs, it’s four albums worth of material, it’s a lot of stories. It’s a really fun show. I think every moment in the 90 minutes really matters. It’s a long one
You’re heading out to the UK pretty soon, as well. What are you looking most forward to while you’re over there?
It’s been a minute since we’ve been over there. We’ve always had really great shows there. We’ve been there maybe a dozen times at this point. I’m really excited to play the new album there and see how they respond.
I know that you performed at a Bernie Sanders rally recently in Milwaukee. How did that come about?
That was the craziest thing we’ve ever been asked to do. I’m still trying to wrap my head around why and how that came about. We got an email from someone on the support team asking if we wanted to perform at one of the rallies, so we got on a plane in 48 hours’ notice and we went and played in Milwaukee. We played at the rally before he spoke and we got to sing “This Land Is Your Land” with him and then we got to talk about Bruce Springsteen with him. He is just an all-around, really rad guy. It was really crazy.
Now that you guys are giving The Summer Set another start, are you going to get back into your Half Moon Kids community forum?
Yes, but we’re trying to find a real reason “why” and a new platform to make that thing matter, but we have not forgotten it. For now, we’re just embracing the world and kind of being a band again because we didn’t think we were going to do it.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2016 after this tour?
This tour ends June 2, and then we get a little bit of time off in June and July besides just a couple radio shows and visits, and then we do the last 11 dates of Vans Warped Tour on the West Coast. And then we’ll probably tour in the fall. There are many places in the world that we miss that we want to get out to and just promote the record.
The Summer Set will be performing at Theatre Of The Living Arts in Philadelphia on May 25, and two nights in a row at Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan on May 26 and May 27. Their album Stories For Monday is available now. For more information, visit thesummersetband.com.