There is so much to say about Florida band Set It Off. Their music helped to bring the WCBG staff together and has deeply impacted our lives. The band is comprised of Cody Carson (vocals), Maxx Danziger (drums), and Zach DeWall (guitar). Their musical evolution has helped to root them as a staple at WCBG events and in their genre. You can always catch us playing “Why Worry” at Freshman Move In Day. Set It Off is currently signed to Fearless Records and they had dropped their album, Midnight, in early 2019. We are very thankful to have had the opportunity to talk to Cody at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey during the Medicine Tour. The whole experience was surreal, and we are pleased to share it with you!
Before the interview started, we mentioned how one of our first encounters with Set It Off was the Talk Dirty video from 2014, where Cody Carson covered the Jason Derulo song. He stated that one of the reasons he wanted to cover that song specifically was because of the saxophone part. Carson originally played the clarinet and later learned the saxophone since he wanted to perform in jazz band in school. He said that he wanted to include at least one track off each album that featured the clarinet—the song “Unopened Windows” off Midnight is the latest example. Carson mentioned that you can hear the clarinet part in the layering for the “Ode to Danny Boy.”
What is your writing process like?
Carson’s writing mostly focuses on his life experiences. He says, “I truly believe you don’t actually know what you feel about something until you start a dialogue about it.” Venting is a form of expression the band uses to stay mentally healthy. Carson continued by saying that he has a notepad on his phone of potential song topics. One example he gave us is that he and a friend ended up taking a personality test and how others tend to label you. While working with Mike Green, one of the producers on Midnight, Carson explained that he would match the vibe of what was being worked on. Collaboration is an important aspect of the writing process and progresses to create what we heard on the album. Carson then showed us a voice memo on his phone of him voice riffing. He likes to call this part of the process thought vomit since it is important to get the melody out.
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?
Definitely Bruno Mars. I’m such a fan and it would be amazing to work with him. He can play anything plus I’d love to feel out his energy and vibe out with him.
What is your favorite lyric that you’ve ever written?
I would have to say, “Different Songs,” it’s about a previous relationship where we fell out of love. I thought it would be great to compare it to a song you’ve heard too many times and it loses its impact. The whole chorus of “Happy All the Time,” I’m also proud of. They’re all my babies it’s so hard to pick a favorite.
Describe your sound in three words.
Edgy, Catchy, and Fun.
On the car ride over here we actually guessed that fun would be one of the words you used. We love seeing how artists would define themselves.
I love doing group activities on our off dates and having fun! I’m going to have fun singing it. When I’m not touring, I enjoy going to barricades and playing darts or pool.
What do you do when you’re not writing music?
If I can stay home and play video games and watch football, it’s great. I love being extroverted, but I also like being isolated and keeping my private life, private.
Since the album is called Midnight what’s your favorite thing to do at midnight?
Nothing. *cue laughter* Well I really enjoy video games.
What’s your favorite video game?
Of this decade, God of War.
Not of this decade?
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on an N64, the game is timeless.
You mentioned football earlier
I’m a huge Eagles fan.
Serena is actually also a huge fan. What did you do when they won the Superbowl?
We were actually in Edmonton, Canada and on tour with [Sleeping with] Sirens when they were playing. We asked to push the set back so we could watch the game. I was so excited when they won!
Do you have any pre-show rituals/superstitions?
One of the things we do is the Kamehameha from Dragon Ball Z, we are huge fans. And we also say “Ain’t no party like a Set It Off party, because a Set It Off party is the best!” We always do those two things beforehand. I also say a little prayer for a great show, to have a great connection with the audience, and that I don’t hurt myself. I also have a $2 from my fiance's mom that I keep for good luck. A fan actually gave me a $2 and it’s just sentimental.
What was your favorite gift from a fan?
A fan once gave me a portrait of my dad with angel wings. On the bottom of it, it said “there are no shortcuts to success.” It was something my dad would always say—one day he left that note for me on the fridge and it drove me to work harder. It was such a thoughtful gift. I also have an Eagles coffee mug that I use every day that’s still going strong.
Maxx warned us that we were going to get a bunch of weird gifts. We’ve gotten worms on a string and long Furbies. We have tons of them, and we taped them above the cabinets so it’s like a retro beaded string but with worms on a string. We also received three paintings of each of us as a long Furby with our darkest lyrics. Mine said “feel the fear.” We love our fans; we actually received the Fan Power Award from Rocksound. Our fans don’t let people sleep on us and I’m so grateful for them.
Tell us a little bit about your album, Midnight
For Midnight we attempted to merge the pop and punk sound. In the beginning it was a lot of aggressive lyrics and power chords. Now I’m able to create a sound I’ve always wanted to. As a writer it’s about trying to find your sound. Upside Down had a brighter sound to it, it was written in major key and happy. The record was received well but I realized that people like me when I’m angry. I now use songs to vent and happy is something I feel. No one likes hearing about other people’s happiness and people may need angry songs. Midnight was a way to merge everything. I already have 14 songs done for a new record though it will be cut down. It’s about quality over quantity.
Someone once told me that the happiest of songs actually have the saddest lyrics. I noticed this on Upside Down.
Actually, the song, “Life Afraid” was written about the Paris attacks. We actually played that venue, The Bataclan, and to think a mass shooting happened there…it was the last show we played overseas, and we made so many memories there. I originally didn’t want to write that day, so we took a break and got something to eat. I realizes I can’t let their actions stop me from doing what I love and that’s where “I can’t live my life afraid,” came from. The song definitely has a different meaning and people tend to look for face value.
What are your plans for the new decade of 2020?
Takeover let’s go. I’m writing my ass off. We are here! I feel stronger than ever and the songs I’m writing are stronger than ever, I’m pumped!
We are super hyped for you guys and we can’t wait to see what you do next! We were able to watch their performance and it was spectacular! They will be going on the Midnight Tour Part 4 & 5 super soon so go buy tickets!
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