Set Your Goals

author PP date 14/08/07

You don't see many bands the size of Set Your Goals posting their personal email addresses on their official website, let alone answering all of their Myspace messages themselves. But this is a band who makes a point in being available to their fans, a fact that one of the two vocalists Jordan made very clear during the interview. Perhaps that explains why they take so much time off their calendar to visit countries like Denmark, where bands of their kind usually never schedule shows. Better yet, I was able to schedule this interview by directly speaking to Jordan over email, who just told me to come after the show to their merch stand and ask for him and we'll sort it out. Few bands are willing to do an interview after a show which left the band members soaked from sweat and grasping for breath, but Jordan had no problem with it at all. The interview is rather short, as their tour manager came around a few minutes into the interview to note that the band had to take off so soon after the show for their next destination. But nevertheless we were able to pull together and interesting interview, where Jordan explains in detail about his personal view on religion, and about where he sees Set Your Goals going. He even touches on the previous Yellowcard album "Lights And Sounds" - read on to find out more.

Picture taken by Alexandra De Sisto

RF.net: Hi and thanks for doing the interview with us.
Jordan: Yeah definitely.

RF.net: We obviously just saw your show just before, it was great. Do you guys always put on a show like that?

Jordan: We try and give it our all every time we go out there. This is our first time in Denmark, but even a city like San Francisco where we've played multiple times or at least in the east bay area, there's always gonna be people there who haven't seen you before. And for the people who are returning, they are returning for certain reasons so you just really gotta give it as much energy as you can every time, and just keep the momentum going from beginning to end.

RF.net: So doesn't it affect you that even here, there's like 13 people who are really into it and the rest are like standing still because they don't really know you well?

Jordan: Those 13 people who did know it ended up.. if you turn around, it creates an energy that gets the rest of the crowd into it and wanting to move around a little bit more. So even just having a few people who know your band is so good for the live show. Because of that, I had tons of people come up to me, who I didn't see singing along but I did see standing in the crowd and watching intently from beginning to end, and it was cool. Number never matter, like I said you gotta give it like you are playing in front of a couple of hundred of people even when you're playing for ten people.

RF.net: So you've had a chance to look around the area a bit and you mentioned it a bit in your show as well, this whole festival thing. So what's your personal view on the whole Fredericia Hardcore thing?
Jordan: I really like it. Tom from No Trigger said this on stage too, it's like we don't really have much anything like this in the US. We have festivals, but they're nothing like this. You don't get to go.. you know there's a community who puts it together, but here you've got people that were camping out, you know they wake up every day, like they live and breathe this festival, like this is what their weekend is going to consist of. I just think it's really cool. I guess one that comes close to it in the US is Coachella, which is a more mainstream festival, and people are all about the scene that that festival creates. But this is at such a smaller scale and I think you guys get it a little bit more, so that's really cool.

RF.net: Right. So to get into the prepared questions now. How are things in Set Your Goals at the moment?
Jordan: They're great. We are two weeks into the seven week tour. It's the longest tour within a country or an area. I guess we did seven weeks in the US early this spring, but there were so many off dates that we had to fill them ourselves. Things are good touring wise, and we are gonna be shooting a music video in the fall for our song "Echoes" which was on the "Mutiny!" record, so I'm very excited for that. We did a run on Warped Tour before we did this, and that was amazing. I really can't complain, things are looking up, they've always been good for us.

RF.net: So you make a point out of filling the off dates or what?

Jordan: Yeah we do. That particular tour was with Anti-Flag, Alexisonfire, Big D & The Kids Table

RF.net: Quite a lineup!

Jordan: It was a very good lineup, it was such a mix of bands. We went into it, and we knew there was going to be two weeks off dates combined. Every week, there'd be like a day or two off, and right in the middle there was five days off. So we booked almost every day except for one or two where we had to drive. Whats up man [looking towards a guy who had been following our discussion for the last few minutes]

Tour Manager: Five minutes!

Jordan: We gotta take off in five minutes?

Tour manager: Yeah!

Jordan: Really. Holy shit. Sorry man.

RF.net: Okay, I'll cut into the more interesting questions that I have, if you don't mind. Was your sound intentional in terms of sounding like pop punk did ten years ago, or was it natural because you liked the music back then?
Jordan: It was a little bit more intentional, but I guess it's a little bit of both to be honest, because we set out to sound like those bands, but at the same time it's like.. we're influenced by them so it's still a progression from the EP to the full length. You progress into your own sound after that. But when we started the band it was because all these bands have broken up, or didn't seem to be really doing as seriously in our area. We just wanted to bring that into our local scene and then once we heard that people outside of California were into it, that was just a means of touring.

RF.net: So lyrically- Did you write all the lyrics or?
Jordan: Myself and Matt, the other singer, we write all the lyrics.

RF.net: So in my opinion it is one of the most impressive pop punk albums in terms of lyrics. So where does the inspiration stem from for those lyrics. Where do you find the themes that you write about, it's all about pirates right now isn't it?

Jordan: [laughs] Well that was like with the song "Mutiny!", that was just a way of grabbing people's attention for that song. But then, if you look past all the costumes and theatrics of that, you see what the song is actually about. When write lyrics, we just try and pick.. first of all an issue that both him and I can relate to, because we're both gonna be singing it, so we have to both have gone through it. And just living life, every human being will go through certain cycles and we just wanna touch on those so that if it's something him and I can relate to, chances are that someone else outside of our band is gonna relate to it. So we just try and explore those. We try to think something for every topic. There's a lot of bands that write about the same thing. It seems kind of over and over, so we try and stray from that, and not do that too often.

RF.net: If we speak about specific songs, "An Old Book Misread", and we heard a little bit about on stage already. But where do you stand personally on religious issues. What do you think about religion, be it Christianity or Buddhism?
Jordan: Any religion?

RF.net: Yeah, any religion, just in general.

Jordan: There's things that are taken from the religion I was brought up with, which was Christianity, and there's things that I believe about it or that I'll take, you know, morally with me. I took a world religions course in high school once, and that kind of opened my eyes out to like.. to get to know any religion you have to literally like dive into it, just submerge yourself into it. As far as that song goes, it was about the evengelical Christian movement that's happening in the United States, and how over the top it is. And there's documentaries out there, like there's a documentary called "Friends of God", there's another documentary called "Jesus Camp", there was a mainstream motion picture called "Saved", and these are all great ways of opening your mind to something more. My problem with that way of practicing Christianity was that they grab these kids when they are young, and they just force all these beliefs into them. If you watch that movie "Jesus Camp" it'll blow your mind. That was something that I've been through, a camp like that. As you grow up, fortunately for me, I was able to break free from that sort of punishing ideal and just think for myself. A lot of people aren't able to because it's all they know. Especially in these small towns in the Midwest of the US. A lot of them never even leave their own town, so if everyone else in the town is practicing and preaching it left and right they know no other way. "An Old Book Misread" was just us trying to get people to pay attention to what was going on over there, and to hopefully start thinking for themselves: if they had questions, it's okay. When I first start questioning it, not to run on with the question too long but, I thought I was wrong, because I was told like "Ohh, you'll be punished, you will go to hell if you don't believe this and this" and I was scared. I was like "why am I not believing?", but it's okay. But that's all that is.

RF.net: Again to jump to an entirely different topic because we don't have a lot of time. So it's been about a year now since you released mutiny. Have you started thinking about the next album at all? Have you written any songs?
Jordan: We haven't completed any songs because we've been on tour for so long. I've come up with a few guitar riffs here and there. That's pretty much how we start the songs, I'll just be messing around on guitar, and I like a riff, and our drummer and I will jam it out and kind of turn it into a song a little bit. And then we'll sit down with lyrics. It just kind of grows over time, but again we've been on tour so much that there's nothing to report just now. But I would hope that we can get some time off in the winter and we can really get another album out next year. I think it'd be good for us, and we kind of owe it to a lot of people.

RF.net: So do you think it will continue in the same vein as your previous album? You see a lot of punk bands write a great record, and after that just mellow it down, water it down for the more mainstream public, what about you guys?

Jordan: We would never intentionally do that, like it's all.. if you listen to the full length we were finally able to express ourselves more with multiple sounds. I loved the demo, but it was so focused on just one thing. We weren't able to really branch outside of that. I say this in a lot of interviews, but the best way to describe it is if you listen to the song "To Be Continued...", which is song 9, and then you listen to the song "This Song Is Definitely Not About A Girl", which is song 5. Musically, you've got a very aggressive with this song, a very aggressive, fast, in your face, just like balls out. That'd be sort of one element of our band, and then the next element is "To Be Continued..." which is more like a ballad song, and might be a little bit more mainstream, and might hook people in a little bit more. But we pull them in so they can see the whole record for what it is. So I think all you can expect is that we go even further with both those. And so you'll still get both styles of music, but even more extreme on both levels. We'll always write fast songs.

RF.net: So you won't move into like, say what Yellowcard did on "Lights And Sounds", you know what I mean?

Jordan: Yeah they did a little bit more of a alternative rock thing. Yeah, they were actually on the Warped Tour, and I heard a lot about what happened with that record as opposed to "Ocean Avenue". They played a lot of songs off "Ocean Avenue", and they're kind of tracking back to the roots. You can't like.. completely abandon your.. just start a new band if you wanna completely do something else. But yeah, I think that record has some good songs, they just needed to balance it out more with the Yellowcard sound.

RF.net: Right okay, I realize you have to go..

Jordan: If you have more.. or we'll just keep going until he comes back up, because he says five minutes and that means like 15. So we'll just keep going with it until then.

RF.net: Okay sure, then I'll just jump straight into the other questions. This is going to be in a weird order now, but whatever.
Jordan: It'll be entertaining for the reader.

RF.net: So even though you only do vocals on stage, you write many of the guitar riffs yourself or what?

Jordan: When we started the band, it was myself, our drummer, and our other vocalist. I'm the only one who plays guitar, so I'd been writing for another band that Mikey, our drummer, and I had been in. And then Matt was the one who actually started the band, because he was like, "would you wanna start a more melodic band? Do you wanna write some songs for it", so me singing just kind of grew out of that becuase I wanted to backup vocals, but then we were just like "lets run with it lets do full on two vocals". On the next album I'd like to bring in our other guitarist Junior, and even Joe on bass and Dave on the lead guitar, and just kind of have more of a band contributed thing.

RF.net: So how do you think that'll affect your sound, then?

Jordan: You know, we're not gonna do too much of it, because I don't want it to affect our sound, and I'm too much of a control-freak to let anyone completely.. it's cool because with this band everyone has fallen into their role in the band, and you know, no-one questions anyone else's role. So no-one's ever been like: "You can't write. I'm gonna write everything". Everyone's very aware of how this band has worked so far, so we are never going to do anything to jeopardise the progression of Set Your Goals. It could add a new element. We'll try it on a couple of songs and see how it works.

RF.net: So would you say then that you have, and the other vocalist perhaps, you have like a clear vision of what you actually want this band to be.

Jordan: Yeah, musically yeah. And even from the get go, I knew I wanted to be in a touring band, I knew I wanted to see the world, I knew I wanted to just feel really connected with the music we are making. But everyone sees eye to eye on that. The cool thing about the band is that you could do an interview with everyone in this band, and get a completely different perspective, but we will still fall on the same range where we want Set Your Goals to go.

RF.net: So when you are on tour, how does a 24-hour period look like in the life of Set Your Goals?
Jordan: A 24 hour period is.. well, obviously you sleep like 8 hours or 6 hours.. on Warped Tour we were sleeping for like 4 hours, so that was a different kind of touring experience. But yeah, you get into the city. You'll load out your equipment into the venue, you'll walk around, kinda see the sights. And then just be part of the show. We hang out at the show and try to talk as many people as we can. People always come up to us and they are always enquiring about what's new with our band and stuff. Then we'll play the show, and usually afterwards we'll go out and try and see a little bit more of whatever city we're playing in. Aside from that, like literally, I'm consumed with a lot of emails and internet, and just trying to keep in touch with all of our different sources across the network.. like right now we're in Europe so I'm talking a lot with the people who are working in the US with our new music video coming up so.. we've always got these kind of little projects aside from touring that we're trying to make happen.

RF.net: Yeah I think it's kind of impressive. I wouldn't have expected to find a personal email address to you on your website, which, I don't know how big you are in the US, but in Europe you are a decent size band already, so you obviously make it a point on actually being available for your fans?

Jordan: Yeah we do. We answer all of our Myspace messages..

RF.net: Wow! That's impressive. [laughter]

Jordan: Well we have our good friend Won/Juan (?) helps us out a lot. He's a really good guy in texas. With his help on the road, and then when we're home we'll jump on it. It's cool because he'll always put the messages onto a saved folder that are more personal. Like a lot of people write to me personally and they'll wanna know something, so he'll be like "yo you got a message check it out". But yeah we always.. we don't want anyone to ever feel like they're unheard in our band [looking at the re-appearing tour manager] are we off?

Tour manager: Yeah

RF.net: Well you answered most of our questions anyway, so thanks a lot. Any last words for the Danish fans?

Jordan: Yeah, check out No Trigger because we're on tour with them right now. You can go to myspace.com/notrigger. Thank you Denmark for being into Set Your Goals, and hopefully we'll be able to come back soon!

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