Senior Writer Jesse Richman had the chance to catch up with Set It Off at SXSW this past March for a fantastic interview. Jesse and the band discussed recent big touring opportunities, the reception to their debut record, growth as a band, Warped Tour, future plans, and more. Check it all out below!
Let me get your names and what you do in the band.
Maxx: My name’s Maxx Danziger and I play drums.
Zach: I’m Zach [DeWall] and I play guitar.
Dan: I’m Dan [Clermont] and I play guitar and sing backups.
Alright, so the LP has been out for about six months now. How has the reception been so far?
Maxx: It’s been great. The record before our EP Horrible Kids started going in a new direction with the sound. The people really liked it – the fans and all that. So we decided to go head first and dive into that sound. I feel like it’s – we kind of found ourselves. I think the people really like it, so it’s good.
Horrible Kids was kind of a concept EP. A rough concept at least. Whereas the new one feels a little bit more like just a bunch of awesome songs. Is the concept thing something that you’re interested in, or did you just set out to write the best songs that you could this time without worrying about how they fit together.
Dan: I think that with Horrible Kids, it just kind of happened, you know? It was not a plan. We definitely have discussed ideas of concept records, but I think with this LP, with Cinematics, we just wanted to – it’s our first time coming out to the public eye – we just wanted to write a collection of songs that people from all spectrums could relate to.
Maxx: I think with the theatrical sound, it opens the door for a concept album.
POZ: Yeah, I think that’s really why I was asking. You guys get a lot of comparisons to bands like My Chemical Romance, with that kind of theatricality.
Maxx: I think we were focusing on writing the best songs that we could. Later on down the road, we’ll see if we can get a bit crazy with it.
Dan: It could definitely happen.
Maxx: Yeah. Who knows?
Do you think the direction that you’ve been going is working for your fans?
Maxx: Yeah. It’s a little darker and a lot more – there’s that orchestral sound to it. We were nervous at first, but they loved it. So we’re very happy.
You guys do something that maybe six or seven years ago was kind of a really dominant sound in the scene. Now you’re kind of one of the only bands doing that sort of thing. Do you feel out of place or do you feel like you’ve made a niche for yourselves?
Zack: I don’t feel like we’re out of place. This is the music that we want to write. This is the music that we want to play. We’re not really here to write music to cater to a certain fan base. This is the music that we feel like is what we want to communicate to our fans and to the people that listen to us.
Dan: Nobody wants to play something they don’t’ enjoy. I think we’re still – granted that we love that time period and we love that music, we still grew up in this scene. I still think there’s those niches where we can sound like a pop-punk band at some points or we can sound like a pop band in another spectrum. I think there’s enough of both of that in there.
Maxx: I think it just happens naturally. We have a song on it that’s essentially a swing song, there’s a whole horn solo and things like that. So whatever happens at the time, we kind of just put it down; if it sounds good then we put it on the record.
Are you guys at the point where you’re thinking about new songs? Do you write while you’re on the road?
Zach: We’re actually – we’re headed up to Canada and then we’re going to do some co-writes soon after that. We’re always thinking ahead. We’re always thinking, “What’s the next step?”
Do you have any timeframe for when you’d want to get back and start recording a new one?
Dan: It’s off in the horizon because our tours are starting to pick up supporting Cinematics so we don’t want to do anything to interrupt that – as soon as we’re gaining momentum we don’t want to stop and record another record. But you never know.
Maxx: I’d say a goal, hopefully next year. But who knows. Depending on what our schedule is. That’s the cool thing about the music industry is that you never know what you’re doing. Two months from now we could be in space, you never know.
You guys just did a European tour with Yellowcard. How did that go?
Zach: It went amazingly.
POZ: How receptive was their audience to you guys?
It went really well. Germany was crazy, those kids – it reminded me of being fifteen years old and going to concerts. How they reacted, the kids, is something that the states doesn’t have. I feel like, no offense to anybody, but I feel like they’re [the States] a little bit spoiled where their favorite bands come into town every three months, where in Germany they get it maybe once a year. So they really appreciate it when a band like Yellowcard comes over, that they can’t see every other month like in the States.