On their latest full-length, Legendary, The Summer Set are issuing a simple, yet essential call to fans: Be legendary. As a sonic challenge to aim high and never back down, the 12 tracks that comprise Legendary aim to provide hope and inspiration, even if it's just to forget your problems and have some fun for awhile.
The Summer Set's singer Brian Dales says the core concept behind the new record evolved into a metaphor for the singer's own personal state of affairs, as well as the mantra The Summer Set hopes to inspire their listeners with.
"It's about wanting to be legendary to yourself and to somebody, and learning to love yourself and therefore finding someone to share that with. It's about being the best you can possibly be: being legendary," says Dales. "It dawned on me that I was sitting there, sulking over things that were over, and I needed to move on from it and be a better me. It all started right there."
The Summer Set-which also includes drummer Jess Bowen, guitarists John Gomez and Josh Montgomery, and bassist Stephen Gomez-was formed in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2007, when Bowen and the brothers Gomez (all previously members of Last Call for Camden) recruited Dales and issued the self-released EP Love The Love You Have that fall. By spring, the band had landed a deal with The Militia Group, leading to the June 2008 EP In Color, followed by a third EP, Meet Me on the Left Coast, in December. It wasn't until signing with Razor & Tie in 2009 that the band began work on a proper full-length debut, and in October 2009 it finally arrived as Love Like This. The Summer Set issued their final releases with Razor & Tie with July 2011's Everything's Fine and November 2011's What Money Can't Buy EP, before signing a new contract with Fearless Records, which will release Legendary. During the last six years the band has traveled the world playing countless shows, including runs on the 2009 Alternative Press Tour, 2010 Vans Warped Tour, 2011's red-hot Dirty Work Tour with All Time Low and Yellowcard, the annual Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, and extensive international dates in places like Australia, Brazil, Japan, the Philippines and Europe.
Leading up to this latest record, the band moved into a house in Tempe, Arizona to write, after spending many months on the road. Both a recharging and rejuvenation period as well as a creative retreat, the experience gave rise to the overall fun, lighthearted vibe of the new album, and the members contributed more as a unit than ever before, with even Stephen Gomez producing the bonus tracks to the album. The record builds upon The Summer Set's past releases, fusing the energy of Love Like This with the more mature songwriting on Everything's Fine.
"It's one of the best experiences we've ever had as a band, because it was the first time we were home, off the road, seeing our friends again, living our lives and having fun, and that energy inspired us, kicked us back into gear," Dales says. "We're very excited to release this record. I think this is the proudest batch of songs we've ever had. We wanted to go into this like we're a brand new band, and figure out what our best new sound is."
For the band, finding that new sound has had a lot to do with personal development, catching them at a particularly free-wheeling stage in life. After coming home from tour and having recently ended a relationship, Dales says he found himself desperately seeking a new direction, and found the answer by throwing himself headlong into his new life. It's the journey through life that drives Legendary.
"It's everything I've gone through in the last seven months. It's trying to get back to living. Something has to inspire you; you have to have some sort of muse. Mine was going out and drinking maybe a little too much [laughs]," Dales says. "Everything's Fine is mostly about boy-meets-girl trials and tribulations, which was very personal for me, but with Legendary we really wanted to inspire people to be a better person and have fun and live in the moment and enjoy every inch."
The key track "Maybe Tonight," was released on February 25, in conjunction with a campaign with Half Moon Kids (www.halfmoonkids.com), a community that shares Legendary's challenge to become the best version of one's self, share visions and meet likeminded people to gain added inspiration. "Maybe Tonight" was the perfect choice for the campaign, since the track drives home the album's core message.
"'Maybe Tonight' is my favorite song we've written as a band," Dales says. "It's the album's thesis song: It's about being able to start over and be the best person you can."
The next single off Legendary, "Boomerang," drops in March, alongside a full nationwide Top 40 Radio campaign. The song details "all these extreme, outlandish, almost unfathomable things you would do for a girl to impress her," says Dales. He adds the key track was a collaborative writing effort, and a special "apex moment" when creative juices were flowing particularly well. It signaled a turning point in the making of Legendary.
"The single 'Boomerang' we wrote with our good friend Kevin Bard, who used to be in a band we toured with, and this producer Mighty Mike," Dales recalls. "We'd written a handful of songs before that weren't quite there, and by the time we finally wrote 'Boomerang,' it all kind of clicked."
Although Everything's Fine plumbed deep emotional depths, Legendary comes from a markedly different place. Filled with irresistibly catchy hooks and infectious beats, The band often uses Legendary's sunny musical backdrop to showcase their penchant for writing witty, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, like on the cheeky "Fuck You Over." "I really want to get back to that sarcastic lyrical sense, and I think that's where 'Fuck You Over' came into play," Dales explains. "It's a song about having fun and being a little reckless, and finding the sarcastic voice I used to have. There aren't a lot of love songs on the record."
Well, that's not entirely true: the Hollywood-esque romance-track "Heart On The Floor" was inspired by everyone's favorite heartthrob, actor Ryan Gosling. "It's about meeting a girl in a bar, and it's kind of my Ryan Gosling song. I'm hoping it's my ultimate pickup line," Dales says. "This song is about me wishing I was Ryan Gosling...that I was as smooth as Ryan Gosling."
With Legendary slated for a spring release, The Summer Set already have an appropriately "legendary" tour itinerary penciled in for 2013, including an entire summer on the Vans Warped Tour, as well as a string of dates overseas and perhaps most excitingly, the band's full U.S. headliner, which will easily top anything the band has attempted in the past. Everything the band has done to date has led up to this moment, right here and now.
"We've been a band for almost six years, but it still feels like the first day all the time. Every single day I'm still amazed," says Dales. "The last two years I'm really grateful for, and seeing the world really helped me hone in on what the new Summer Set record was supposed to sound like."
Brian Dales - Vocals
John Gomez - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Josh Montgomery - Guitar
Jess Bowen - Drums
Stephen Gomez - Bass