Break-ups can be difficult to handle, especially when the couple are best friends. Brian Dales is all too familiar with that sentiment; in fact, the singer’s heartbreak takes center stage on The Summer Set’s optimistic sophomore effort “Everything’s Fine.”
“For the first time in my career as a musician and songwriter, I really felt like I had something to write about,” the 21-year-old explains. “I kinda gone back and forth for a few years with one girl, and it ended just as we were writing this record. The timing was perfect for me to write about it and I think the easiest way to get through it and get over it was to let it all out. It almost turned our entire record into this story -- on my end -- and I think the title ‘Everything’s Fine’ is icing on the cake because it has this outlook that -- even though I’ve gone through all of this, I wanna believe that everything is fine and everything is gonna be ok.”
Well, the album is more than “fine.” It’s quite remarkable. Produced by John Fields (Jimmy Eat World, Jonas Brothers, Switchfoot), the Arizona-based quintet opts for a singer-songwriter approach all throughout the 11-track collection yet the music still maintains a mainstream flair. That’s especially apparent on songs like “Someone Like You,” “Thick As Thieves” and the heavily acoustic-flavored “Mona Lisa.” Still, there are a couple of records like “When We Were Young” and the epic “Back To The Start” that are deeply rooted within their infamous pop-rock blend.
Perhaps of the utmost importance, The Summer Set displays a tremendous amount of growth and maturity. It’s like the five-piece have drawn inspiration from artists such as Jason Mraz and The Rocket Summer. Then again, the group was also looking to distinguish themselves from the rest of the bands within the oversaturated teen-driven genre.
“On our first record [‘Love Like This’], we were young and kinda thrown into that ‘Warped Tour’ pop-rock scene. You work with the same people that are in bands and it’s not a surprise that everyone makes a record that sounds similar. Like, I don’t think our first record sounds any different than any of the bands we toured with,” Dales admits. “With ‘Everything’s Fine,’ we wanted to make this record a lot more songwriter-oriented and a lot more musically patient with acoustic guitars, piano and a lot of strings. At the end of the day, it’s still a fun pop record, but I think it’ a big step forward for us.”
Giant Leap Forward
Although the Gomez Brothers and their neighbor Jess Bowen often played together in previous bands, The Summer Set officially launched in 2007 in Scottsdale, Arizona. They were still in high school, yet managed to work up a buzz relatively quickly. The buzz was so strong, the quintet would often travel to California on the weekends to play select shows and even self-released their first EP, “Love The Love You Have” later that November.
In 2008, they signed with The Militia Group and released the “… In Color” EP. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, but when it came time to work on their debut album “Love Like This,” the label situation became a bit warped. “They were having financial issues on their end and we weren’t sure how we were gonna pay for our record,” Dales recalls.
Fortunately, there was an easy fix. “We ended up Razor & Tie,” Dales says. “Razor & Tie used to do all of their distribution, [so they] literally took us under their wings from Militia and we haven’t really done anything [with The Militia Group] ever since.”
The Summer Set unleashed “Love Like This” in 2009 through the official label home Razor & Tie. It was a pop-rock flavored collection that featured the single “The Boys You Do (Get Back At You)” and “Chelsea.” In the following summer, it would be re-released with “Love Like Swift” -- a live 5-track bonus disc where the band covered five Taylor Swift songs at the 2010 Hoodwink Festival.
While it was a big hit with fans, the quintet doesn’t know if the country starlet has ever listened to it. “I have no idea,” Dales says. “I’d like to think someone in her camp had to have heard it because I don’t think we’d be able to release it without a little bit of clearance, so I don’t know. I never heard from her. Maybe we’ll run into each other one day and I’ll find out.”
But someone Dales has heard from is his ex-girlfriend and best friend Chelsea Kane -- an actress and recent contestant on “Dancing With The Stars.” Nowadays, the two have a pleasant enough relationship. “We had our differences, but I think we figured it out,” he says. “We’re still able to be friends. We’re not together and we don’t talk as much…but I think we figured it out the best we could.”
Just like that, everything is fine again.
- Brian Dales: Vocals
- Josh Montgomery: Guitar
- John Gomez: Guitar/Piano
- Stephen Gomez: Bass
- Jess Bowen: Drums
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