Set It Off Brings Haunted House Rock and Holiday Cheer This Christmas

Ashley Winward

This past year I stumbled upon Set it Off by accident and slowly they’ve become one of my favorite bands in the industry. From the energy of their live sets, to the instrumentals on their albums, they are a positive band that comes with a darker melody.

Sitting down with Cody Carson and Austin Kerr solidified that these boys have such amazing heart and need to be recognized for their wonderfully twisted talents.

Known for their special spooky brand of rock, the Florida boys of Set it Off just finished a stellar run on the 2013 Scream It Like You Mean It tour. Stacked up against names like Hawthorne Heights, Like Moths to Flames and headliners Story of the Year, it was a great opportunity for them to show a diverse crowd what they’re made of. “That’s the most interesting part about it,” lead singer Carson said, “every band is so different, like we’re close to each other, but it’s also like six degrees of separation close you know what I mean? There’s a hardcore band and a less hardcore band and a less hardcore band, it’s like a gradient of genres. I guess we’re kind of the pop-ier side of the tour but as far as the whole run everything’s just been an amazing time!”

Seeing Carson, who started from Youtube videos, eventually catching the attention of Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and making such a big name for himself along with the rest of the band, has been nothing but inspiring to me. Even more so because of the initial responses the band got from the critics, “Absolute punk HATED US which is actually what the song “@reply” is about, it’s about people who make fun of us constantly.” Carson and Kerr both stressed, “I remember when we were talking to some bands when we were first starting. Absolute punk would always tear us to shreds and we were talking about how much we hated it and a band was like ‘Yeah we used to get that a lot too! Then we started getting more successful and putting out new stuff and now they say they want the old stuff!’ and now that’s what happened to us! Like when we put out Cinematics people were like ‘where’s Horrible Kids and Calm Before the Storm??’” This band is a prime example of pushing forward and never letting the critics get you down.

While on tour, performing tracks off their Cinematics re-release they’ve also had the honor to write a song for this year’s Punk goes.. installment Punk Goes Christmas called This Christmas (I’ll Burn it to the Ground).

While many Christmas songs have the tendency to be overdone and cliché, Set it Off brings a new fresh take on the Christmas spirit. Not necessarily a happy tale, Carson tells of a boy named Jack who was dreamed up during Warped Tour this past summer, “The hardest part was finding out the name of our character, which was jack. Just because there are so many Christmas stories out there. As far as the story goes Dan (guitarist) brought up the initial idea of, “It’s about a kid that hates Christmas, and we took it from there. We came up with this story about this kid that doesn’t get anything, his neighbors are wealthy, he lives in a cul-de-sac and he just burns all the houses, steals all the children’s stuff, burning it to the ground.”

When it came to the cliché of Christmas tunes, they decided to embrace it bassist Kerr explained. “I feel like you kind of play off the cliché, it’s not something you necessarily run away from. It just comes from putting a lot into the song, more than just a theme.”

Carson picked out some elements to look for, “you have to mix in the clichés with it, like for instance we have the sleigh bells. You’ll notice almost every song on that album has them somewhere in it, that’s the known cliché; if you put sleigh bells in any song it’s going to sound like a Christmas song so you have that in there.

Also there’s a section of the song where we make fun of Up on the housetop, it’s like an F You! To Christmas. It’s funny because none of us actually hate Christmas, but it was a good way to just have fun with it.”

While reminiscing over Christmas traditions, we got to hear a little bit of what Set it Off has planned after their Christmas holiday, “We have three weeks off after this tour, then we’re doing a small tour with Chiodos, then we have two months where we’ll be focusing on some online content as well as writing. We’re doing a full U.S. tour after that, and then we’ll be heading into the studio with someone we’ve always wanted to work with. We can’t announce who yet, I know it sucks having to be secretive, but keep an eye out because that is the general plan so far.” I cannot wait to hear what new ideas they have to bring to the music industry!

When asked what advice could be passed along to the our music industry and sound recording major on campus, Kerr had some advice, “It’s not about being better than everyone else, but about putting everything you have into it. The music industry is very often an endurance game. It’s not about whom the best is or who did this, you’ve got to throw enough ideas at something until it sticks, you’ve got to work work work. Sometimes I see people who kind of try to follow someone’s path, maybe follow particular advice, and that doesn’t really work because the music industry is built on people who forge their own path. It’s so important to look at it, figure out your own way into it from your own experiences and lay it out there. Stay at it so much longer than you think you should, and eventually you’ll get there because that’s how everyone makes it.

For more from this interview head over to unhmic.tumblr.com where the full interview will be posted! Check out Set it Off on Facebook or setitoffband.com and be sure to listen to Punk Goes Christmas from Hopeless Records, featuring Set it Off along with All Time Low, New Found Glory, William Beckett. It will be sure to be your holiday soundtrack all month long.