When it comes to battling the winter blahs with music, there are a few ways to go about it. One popular choice for Midwesterners is to cozy up with introspective songs that heighten the melancholy and magnify the monochrome of this gloriously sad season. There’s something comforting in the fact that we all wince from the same pain, right? But there is another way, and it’s probably a lot healthier in the long term: Find a catchy song in a major key and ride the joy of it into spring.
Right now, Minneapolis quartet the Set‘s riff-tastic summer anthem “Here is My Heart” is pulling me though the cold, gray days. I can’t even explain why, exactly, other than to say that the track’s forward push and poppy guitar parts make me feel light and a little fluttery, and lead singer Case Shannon’s smart snarl seals the deal. If Howler’s recent rash of success really does end up shining a spotlight on the Twin Cities rock scene, all those U.K. journos who salivated over Howler’s single “Told You Once” would do well to check out the Set’s track; that it’s only one of several strong songs on the band’s full-length debut Loretta also bodes well for the group.
To find out more about the origins of this catchy tune and the promising new group that created it, I sent over a few questions; Shannon, guitarist Mike McCool, bassist Matt Ritterspach, and drummer Malcolm Browne answered them collectively.
Ok, first things first. You’re just starting to gain steam locally but I see you’ve had songs licensed for Real World and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. How did that happen? Which songs were featured in the shows?
In 2010, Case and Mike recorded an EP that caught the attention of a publishing company here in town. They were able to license all the songs on that EP to those two shows, among others. The new album “Loretta” will be seeing its share of TV licensing as well.
Tell me about the recording process for Loretta. Is it true you were in a glass blowing warehouse?
It is true. We teamed up with two skilled engineers/producers and tracked in a glass blowing warehouse in Northeast. We were interested in experimenting with the natural reverb of the space in combination with the glass blowing equipment – hood vents, oxygen tanks etc. In the intro of the first track, “Massive Attack,” we even used recordings of us breaking glass in the background. That ended up being the aim of the album as a whole – try anything and everything we can think of to create a different texture to the sound.
When was the band first formed? Might we recognize your members from previous projects?
While both were attending college in St. Paul, Mike and Case were introduced through mutual friends. They started writing songs and playing together in the spring of 2009 with a handful of different musicians until finding the current lineup.
“Here is My Heart” is my jam right now. So catchy. It sounds like a summertime song, so I’m curious, when were these songs written? They feel very warm.
Thank you. So much. Most of these songs were written two summers ago. The ideas were brought to the rest of the band throughout that time. Although the subject was a little darker we definitely used the summertime feel to lighten the subject matter. Throughout last winter/spring we recorded all of it and finished it up by the end of last summer. As the album began to come together we started trying to create more of a story with the material used.
What do you think is the ideal activity to perform while rocking out to your tunes? What do you imagine your listeners are doing while they’re listening to your album?
The ideal activity while listening to our music is, as you stated, rocking out. It’s what we choose to do every time we’re on stage. There’s nothing we enjoy more than playing – especially here in Minneapolis. And trust us, we’d prefer to have our listeners rocking out with us, rather than wasting their time with other things – like working, studying, or spending time with their family…
If you could embark on a national tour opening for any current act, who would you choose?
We all caught Wu Lyf’s last show at the Entry and really enjoyed it. Touring with those guys would be awesome. It seems like they know their way around having the proverbial “good time.”