Set Your Goals have become one of the most talked about bands in the hardcore and punk music scenes, but with good reason. The band generated a huge buzz with their self-titled EP on Straight On Records. In support, the band hit the road with fellow Cali cohorts Life Long Tragedy last Summer. The result was a contract with Eulogy Recordings, a re-release of the EP, and one of the most anticipated full-length releases of 2006, Mutiny!. Scene Point Blank caught up with vocalist Jordan Brown at the Cleveland stop on their US tour with Ignite.
Scene Point Blank: Here's an icebreaker question. State your name, role in Set Your Goals, and what do you like on your burrito?
Jordan: Awesome question! I'm Jordan and I handle half of the vocals in Set Your Goals. There's this place back home called Freebirds and they have these gigantic burritos like this big. [Demonstrates the size of the burrito to be the size of a soccer ball]
Scene Point Blank: Love that place - I used to go to the one in Austin all the time when I lived there; it's probably the biggest and best burrito I've ever had.
Jordan: It's got to have steak, but nothing too fatty, it has to be lean. And put everything on it. I'm talking sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, Spanish rice, and black beans. But no pintos! I prefer tomato or spinach tortillas. The cheese has to be melted over the rice. Sometimes I like getting them grilled afterwards. Other places will deep-fry them for you, so its like chimichanga, and that's pretty good too. But yeah, next to Mediterranean food, burritos are my favorite thing to eat. I'm glad you asked that question!
Scene Point Blank: Let's talk about the new album. Mutiny! was recorded with Barrett Jones. What was it like recording with a producer that has worked with bands like Nirvana and The Foo Fighters?
Jordan: It was fucking awesome. I was definitely intimidated to be working with him at first, given the names that he's worked with and all. The guy has gold records from all these amazing artists on his walls. He did the first Foo Fighters record, Bush, Presidents of the USA, and countless others. One day we found this unlabeled CD just laying around in his studio and asked him what it was. Turns out it was never released stuff from Kurt Cobain.
Scene Point Blank: Wow!
Jordan: So that gives you an idea of the type of producer he is. More recently he did the I Am the Avalanche album. So yeah, it was kind of crazy. At the same time I was skeptical of working with a real producer, but in the end it was nice to have someone else's take on the stuff we were doing. Sometimes it was just the little nuances that made the difference. When he would have an idea for something he'd have us re-do it and then play it back, and it always did sound better. The guy is great, he just gets music. But yeah, it was three weeks of not at home living in an apartment in Washington. It forced us to grow up and evaluate where we were at in life. It was definitely a life changing experience. And while it was emotionally draining and I was stressed out quite a bit, when I heard the final product I was so proud of it and the whole experience was entirely worth it.
Scene Point Blank: Shortly after the recording of Mutiny! was finished you guys had your van and trailer stolen. How did you guys maintain a positive frame of mind and continue on with your touring obligations? Most bands would just pack it in and give up.
Jordan: Yeah, fortunately we didn't have our instruments or equipment in it so it wasn't a complete loss, but had every bit of our merch stolen. It was a real bummer, but that's part of being in a band: persevering through the obstacles. We took a week off to collect our thoughts, but it was never in our minds to give up. This is a fulltime venture for us and we put all our effort into it; I call it a work-in-progress because it is never completed. No matter what we achieve with this band there is always something more to do. But yeah, last summer we were on tour with Life Long Tragedy and the same thing happened to them - they got all their gear stolen and at the time I couldn't' understand how they kept going. But now, being in the same position that they were in, I can see how and why they chose not to give up.
Scene Point Blank: Did you ever find the culprits?
Jordan: They didn't find the people that did it, but they did find all our merch that was stolen. Some guy that owns a club found all of the shirts and stuff next to a dumpster in the U District, which is where the college is. He ended up looking us up on the Internet and called us up saying he found it. So we got all the merch back in the end, but not until we had re-ordered it for the tour.
Scene Point Blank: Two tracks from Mutiny! were recently released on a Summer sampler and have been rapidly spreading throughout the Internet world. Would you consider these two new songs to be a fair representation of the rest of the album?
Jordan: We definitely feel that the two songs demonstrate the sound of Mutiny! perfectly. I know a lot of bands say this when they talk about their new album, but the songs are still us, only intensified. When we write our music, we write two types of songs. We write pop-punk songs and we write hardcore songs and that's what we have on the sampler - one of each. There are other bands, like New Found Glory, that combine their pop influences with their hardcore influences into one song, but we don't mesh them. That is what I think sets us apart from those types of bands. And no matter what style the song is, we always have something real to say.
Scene Point Blank: What's with the pirate theme for Mutiny! ? Will there be a music video to accompany any song from the CD?
Jordan: We were in the studio recording the album and we were talking about how we need a name for the record and in the end we decided to pick Mutiny!, not because we wanted a pirate theme but because we wanted a theme that stood for what we were going through. A mutiny is a taking over from the inside and that's what we're doing with our music. This album is our assault on both the underground and mainstream music worlds. When we were in the process of looking for labels, we talked with a lot of them on both levels, and some of them wanted us to make changes to the band. To the indie labels we were too mainstream and to the majors we weren't polished enough. Like one label even approached us about having two singers saying that it wasn't really in right now. What are we to say? "You want us to kick somebody out?" Well Fuck that! We didn't want to compromise the band. In addition, we chose Mutiny! because we like to have fun and pirates are fun. When we did the photo shoot for the CD we all dressed up in pirate garb. They Photoshopped a peg leg on Matt, they gave me a parrot. It's totally insane. Eulogy wanted to be ridiculous with it. They wanted to screen-print eye patches to promote it. They talked about putting all the pre-orders in a treasure chest.
Scene Point Blank: That's pretty wild. I could only imaging a treasure chest showing up at my doorstep.
Jordan: Then we shot a video for the song â€œMutiny!.â€ We play a band that is supposed to be the next big thing. It actually chronicles what we were going through with the whole label process - it got to the point where we were sick of it and almost broke up. There's a line that really hits it home â€œThere's too much business in this / I'm going back to my garage.â€ So that's pretty much the gist of the video.
Scene Point Blank: Eulogy certainly has been promoting the hell out of recent release of Reset EP as well as the upcoming Mutiny! record. How did you guys end up hooking up with them?
Jordan: We were on the tour with The Warriors and their A&R guy got in touch with us about working with them. So we talked to them and a lot of other labels, including Abacus who were in the running for a longtime, about how we weren't in this for the money and just wanted to write the album that we wanted. We weren't happy with the direction a lot of the labels wanted us to go, which was rather frustrating. And this was a really long process. Eulogy contacted at first in June of 2005, we decided to go with them and got the first contracts in September. We reworked them over and over for the next few months and finally signed with the label in December. And throughout the whole process they were totally supportive and working with us on every detail. We thought that they were going to be like "Fuck you guys" and just send us away. But since the signing they've really lived up to everything that we expected out of them and more. They've worked incredibly hard since the signing, which makes our decision to go with them even more rewarding.
Scene Point Blank: That's awesome. That's when you know you made the right decision. What is the songwriting process like for you guys? Does having two vocalists ever make things difficult?
Jordan: Well the band is made up of the three core guys from the beginning: Matt, Mikey, and myself. The rest of the guys have been kind of constantly revolving so it's kind of a different type of process for us. I write all the guitar parts and then once I have something good I get together with Mikey and we arrange the song together. After we have the song pieced together musically, Matt and I sit down and come up with topics that we can both relate to and come up with lyrics, and then I'd structure them into the song. We did have the other guys come in and actually record the songs. As far as two vocalists, its never been a problem.
Scene Point Blank: Up to this point, all the Set Your Goals songs have had duel-vocals, are there any plans to write any songs with just one of you guys handling the vocal duties?
Jordan: We always wanted two vocalists for the band and that's how it will always be. We feel it adds to the dynamics of the music. We feel that having two vocalists plays to our advantage, especially in the live setting. It increases our interaction with the crowd. Normally you see a band with two singers and if one guy isn't singing he's standing in the corner. Well we'll be interacting with the crowd, giving them the mic for our part of the other guys'. This way even if we're not the one who is supposed to be doing the verse or the chorus, the crowd is constantly involved with us and the energy is kept high.
Scene Point Blank: Reading through the lyrics, for the most part. the subject matter veers away from the typical heartache and scene topics that the vast majority of hardcore and punk seem to dwell on. Was this intentional?
Jordan: That is what has inspired me more than anything about the hardcore and punk scenes, the lyrics. That's the one thing that we've always tried to use to distinguish ourselves from what everyone else is doing by covering real topics, something that I think we accomplished in the past and with the songs on Mutiny!. â€œTo Be Continuedâ€¦â€ is about the maintaining a long distance relationship whether it is family, friends, or significant others while out on the road touring. We wrote another song titled â€œThis Song is Definitely Not About a Girlâ€ in response to people misinterpreting our song â€œLatchkey.â€ We'd have girls come up to us at shows and tell us how much they love that song and that they could relate to the song because it helped them through their break-up with their boyfriend. Which in of itself is a good thing, but the song is actually about Matt and his relationship with his parents and how they weren't ever there to support him. So we basically wrote the song to give those that listen to our music a second chance for people to truly listen to what it is that we are saying. There's also a song on the album about organized religion, "An Old Book Misread," more specifically the idea of forced beliefs. There is a line in the song â€œOrganized crime comes in more forms than one / and your God is no exceptionâ€ that really drives the point home. We're all of different faiths, but no one person's religion is more important than another's. We don't want to upset people with what we talk about on the album, but we want to discuss subjects that we feel are important.
Scene Point Blank: Jason from our staff wants to know why you guys chose to record your cover of Jawbreaker's â€œDo You Still Hate Me?â€ as opposed to Lifetime's â€œBringing it Backwardsâ€ which you've also covered live? Any plans to record this or other cover songs in the future?
Jordan: Well, we originally wrote that song for a compilation record. You know Sammy the Mick?
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, of All Bets Off.
Jordan: He runs Spiderghost [Pressgang] and released a compilation of entitled Pity the Backseat with a bunch of Nor Cal hardcore bands on it. There was going to be a second volume in that compilation series with bands covering other California bands. Well it didn't pan out and we had recorded the Jawbreaker cover already so we ended up putting it on the re-release of the EP. We do love playing that Lifetime cover though, we always have fun with it. All the covers we play are about us having fun. We started recording a cover of The Police's "Message in a Bottle", and we do the Gorilla Biscuits covers, we recorded one for a compilation for Revelation Records. I'd actually love to do a covers EP - I'd want to cover No Doubt's "Sunday Afternoon" all just for fun, ya know?
Scene Point Blank: If that ever happens, I'll definitely pick it up. Life on the road vs. life at home - what do you enjoy most about each? What do you dislike most about each?
Jordan: Well I definitely hate leaving home, but on the flipside when we're out on tour, I can't see how I could stay home. I love playing shows and I love seeing my friends on the road and meeting new people. Granted touring has forced us to grow up a lot as people, but it is so much fun. On the negative side, I definitely don't want to tour for my whole life. It's hard to leave behind the ones you love, granted the phone is okay, but it's not the same as to give the person a hug.
Scene Point Blank: Is there any band that you've yet to tour with that you'd desperately like to go on the road with?
Jordan: The Movielife! If they did a reunion tour, I would find a way to be a part of it. Kid Dynamite also. Gorilla Biscuits for Matt - that's his all time favorite band. After we got on the California dates, I asked him "Aren't you glad we formed this band now?" We're going try and do a CIV cover and get CIV to come out and do vocals with us. Hmm... Jimmy Eat World is another; they haven't written a song that I don't like - they're awesome. Strike Anywhere, oh, and Dragbody and xBoundx - ha-ha. Our manager was in those bands.
Scene Point Blank: I have a bunch of Dragbody 7"s at home. That's crazy. What do you guys do to pass the time while driving from one show to another? Any interesting games or tour stories that you'd like to share with us?
Jordan: Fireworks! Shooting them back and forth with the other bands. We've also got our van hooked up with Nintendo, TV, and all sorts of other stuff. It's full on comfortable. Mikey, our drummer, and the rest of the guys play a lot of Mario Baseball and Mario Party.
Scene Point Blank: What's your favorite Bay Area band that most of us have never heard - past or present?
Jordan: For past I would have to say Rancid. "And Out Come the Wolves" is the epitome of summer listening for me. There's this band American Steel. If anyone is into Against Me! they will love this band. They had to be influenced by them. And of course Jawbreaker. As for the present. Gunsmoke is awesome, gotta rep Life Long Tragedy, and A.F.I. - the new album rules so much. Animosity as well.
Scene Point Blank: Being on the road, have you stumbled across any promising local acts that you'd recommend to our readers?
Jordan: Not sure if you'd consider them locals, most of the bands we've played with are other bands touring and trying to make it just like us. We played with xLookingForwardx last night in Baltimore, they were great. Take My Chances from Long Island are awesome, Wisdom in Chains, Crime in Stereo, and the CDC guys.
Scene Point Blank: What are your favorite places to eat while on the road?
Jordan: Wafflehouse's are big. Also Wa Wa and Taco Bell. Being a touring band, we're pretty much limited to anything that is on a value meal. Freebirds if there is one nearby. Also, there was this place in New York City that had two dollar falafel, but I can't remember the name. Zed also took us to the Carnegie Deli, that was cool.
Scene Point Blank: What about CiCi's, have you had their macaroni-and-cheese pizza?
Jordan: Haven't tried it!
Scene Point Blank: You're missing out, it's the best thing ever. You've got to try it! Based on various video footage of the band I wanted to ask this question. What's your favorite Kelly Clarkson song?
Jordan: Ha-ha - great question. I'd say either â€œBreak Awayâ€ or â€œHazel Eyes.â€ I love all that girl pop stuff like Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee Simpson, and Avril Lavinge. I'd really like to produce girl pop bands for a living. I know its just ear candy to the max, but I can't get enough of it.
Scene Point Blank: Perhaps you could add a Kelly Clarkson song to your covers album. After this tour you guys are heading to Europe for a couple of weeks. Can we expect a return to the road stateside after that?
Jordan: We're heading to Europe after this tour with The Steal for a few weeks. Then when we come back we'll be doing a headlining tour in July and August. Then in October and November we'll be providing support for the Strike Anywhere tour, which I'm so excited to be playing with Strike Anywhere. There's one other big-name melodic hardcore band that's supposed to be on that, but they're not confirmed yet. There's also going to be one other support band - not sure who though.
Scene Point Blank: Sounds like a great tour, hopefully that swings through my way. Anything else you'd like to share before we wrap this up?
Jordan: I love Scene Point Blank and all the guys from the site. You've always supported us and we appreciate it. Pre-orders for Mutiny! are up now at Eulogy and the album is out in stores on July 11th. And messageboards rot your brain.
Interview and Graphics: Michael
Images courtesy of Stephanie Jackson