I had a chance to interview John (JG) and Stephen Gomez (SG) from The Summer Set while they were in Columbus on May 7th for the AP Tour which is sponsored by Alternative Press Magazine. I was able to ask them about their views, their music and their past and future tour experiences.
What are all of your names and what do you do in the band?
SG – My name is Stephen and I play bass.
JG – My name is John and I play guitar.
You guys very recently just played Hoodwink Festival and Bamboozle in New Jersey. What was the experience like and why did you choose to cover Taylor Swift for Hoodwink?
SG – It was awesome.
JG – It was unbelievable. It was so much fun to be able play someone else’s songs, like someone who you respect a lot. We just got to hang out on stage so it’s not like—
SG – We didn’t have to like rock out.
JG – Yeah, we just got to play good songs which is really fun! And Taylor Swift? We are all just die-hard, head over heels for her. So, I mean, it was a pretty easy decision.
SG – It’s cool doing it too cause you learn. Like when you play other people’s songs you learn things about music yourself. It’s definitely a good learning experience.
You guys also have your first summer on Warped Tour this year. What are your expectations for it?
JG – I’m trying to go into it with no expectations because I don’t know what to expect.
SG – Everyone says, you know, that it’s really hot and really hard but say it’s like the most fun you’ll ever have. Well, I guess I’m kind of expecting a little of both at the same time, but I know it’s going to be kind of rough at times. I’m looking forward to it.
JG – So it’s a dream to know that we can play it.
How’d you guys get involved with that? Did they ask you or did you contact them?
JG – Yeah, pretty much! They offered and –
SG – Yeah, they asked us to play and obviously we were like “Yeah.”
In the midst of all this touring, has there been new music being worked on?
JG – Yes. Our favorite place to write is on the road. I think that’s where most inspiration comes from. At home, you’re kind of just in your everyday life, hanging out with friends. I think touring, and being on the road, and traveling around…I don’t know. I find it a lot more inspirational on the road than I do at home.
SG – I like both. I think each breeds each it’s own different kind of song. Both are good. Oh! And we are working on some stuff.
Is it going to be any different than Love Like This?
SG – A little bit. It’s still really melodic, poppy stuff so-
JG – We are going to try to be more of a band. A little less production and a little more how we are live.
SG – Just be more of a rock band.
What has this tour experience been like and how do you think it has been beneficial to you all as a band?
SG – I mean, getting to play in front of really good sized crowds every night is obviously going to help any band.
JG – On top of that we were a little worried because we were coming out on a tour with three buses and like how it was going to be having a bus versus a van, like is everyone going to be like rock stars or are we going to have a fun time? But everyone’s been like a huge family on this tour, like we are so close to everybody.
How important do you think staying connected with your fans is?
JG – Very important. They are the reason that we make music and the reason that we can keep making music.
SG – They are the reason why we can travel and do any of this. It’s awesome.
JG – We’re really thankful.
SG – And it’s awesome that it’s easy to stay in touch now with things like Twitter or different social networking sites.
JG – And I hope people like us for our band – not just to come and get a picture with you. Like that’s fun and all, but all and all I hope people like the music and we’re not just like a circus act. We’re not just like a petting zoo.
SG – I don’t want to feel like an animal people are staring at – a monkey in a cage.
JG – We’re just kids.
SG – I hope they liked our music first and through that –
JG – Learned about us.
Who have been some of your biggest influences in music?
JG – I’d say Third Eye Blind is huge. Third Eye Blind is the first record I ever bought.
SG – Yeah, definitely. When you grow up you start of listening to one thing, that leads you to another thing. The stuff that I first started influencing me as an artist definitely isn’t —
JG – Blink 182 was huge.
SG – …It’s definitely what made start wanting to play music. Like do I necessarily listen to Blink when I am writing a song now? No. But everything kind of builds on each other and everything that you listen to and have been influenced by–
JG – It opens up to new things.
SG – It opens up to new things and little traces of it come out in your music. But, I mean, I think everyone’s music tastes changes over the years.
For the most part every band has a message that they are trying to communicate to the listeners through their music. What would you say The Summer Set’s message is?
SG – …..I don’t know. I mean, I feel like every song has its own message. As band we love what we do and we hope the people enjoy our music and have a good time with it.
JG – And mostly with our live show we love having fun, just fucking around.
SG – And hopefully kids have fun too.
JG – And hopefully kids have a good time…I don’t know. Our message is just trying to be real. I think like, being secure with our insecurities and writing about our insecurities and writing about everyday life. Things that we’re uncomfortable with and things that we love. Just different experiences.
SG – Yeah, there’s no one thing. Like, I can’t really be like “This band represents good times and sex, drugs and rock and roll!”. We’re all different and we’re all individuals.
So I saw you guys on Halloween with Cartel-
SG – Oh God!
Ha, yeah! I was kind of confused and asking myself “Why is that guy not wearing any clothes?”
JG – Oh. My. God.
So going off of that, why did you guys decide to dress up as hicks and call yourselves ‘Northern Surrender’?
SG – We just thought it would be so funny because we are not like that at all. We’re not like gun-toting conservatives!
JG – Gun-toting, meat-eating, Bush-loving conservatives! We thought it was just funny to act like that.
SG – It’s fun to be the exact opposite of who you are! That’s what Halloween is…I guess.
If you guys didn’t decide to pursue music as a career, what do you think you would be doing right now?
SG – I’d probably be in college…you know…doing that thing.
JG – I guess college? I just never really thought about it.
SG – I was in college for a little bit though so I’m pretty sure that’s what I would be doing.
JG – I’m pretty against Plan B’s…backup plans. I think if you want to do something then do it.
Like ‘live in the moment’, sort of?
JG – Exactly! Like if you have something you want to do, there should be no reason for you to have a backup plan. If you want to do something, you’ll do it. Simple as that.
And I have some fun questions.
JG – Okay,
SG – Cool!
Biggest pet peeves?
SG – Loud noises before ten in the morning –
AP Tour Camera Guy – What up, dudes!?
SG – Hey! But yeah, that really bugs me. Whenever Brian’s just fucking screaming at like eight in the morning I’m just like “Ugh, I’m so tired”.
JG – Uhm, I don’t like people being negative. I don’t like negativity. I think there is no reason to be negative. I mean, there are certain times you’re going to be down and stuff like that, but I just don’t like it when people are not thinking about the positive side of things. Like for example, when Brian [lead singer] broke his foot, we could have been like ‘Oh wow, we jump around and go crazy live all the time like he does, this is going to suck. The kids aren’t going to like it, the kids aren’t going to have fun anymore’. But we looked at it like this is an awesome thing, this is a good thing, and we are going to learn how to be a band in a different way. We’re going to have to learn how to have him stand still, this is going to be awesome and we’re going to be better because of it.
Who would you say the funniest member of the band is?
JG – Josh!
SG – Josh! Josh is funny and he doesn’t even try to be funny. Just the shit he gets himself into and the things he says.
JG – He gets himself in really weird situations.
SG – And he doesn’t even realize what he says.
JG – He’s just really funny.
Craziest tour story?
SG – Craziest tour story? Oh God…
JG – I’d say about a year and a half ago we ended up crashing a wedding. We were at a hotel and this wedding reception was going on and we just dressed up and went there. We acted like we were a part of the family.
SG – Jessica and Dave’s wedding?
JG – Jessica and Dave’s wedding. I said I was one of Dave’s college roommates from way back when at UD. I found out what college he went to and that was probably one of the funniest things that have ever happened to me.
SG – That was definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever done.
AP Tour Camera Guy – What about this tour?
JG – This tour? Hmm, I don’t know.
SG – You’re birthday was pretty fun.
JG – My birthday was crazy. The best thing about it was everyone had a crazy time, it was probably one of the most insane nights of the tour, but at the end of the night I was like “This was a great birthday guys!” and everyone was like “Wait…it was your birthday?” I was like “Well…yeah. It was,” No one had any idea it was my birthday which made the night a lot more genuine to me. It was just like hell yeah, it was just a good night that happened to be on my birthday.
JG – Come hang out with us! We hope we make more and more friends and fans. We hope it always grows and more people want to join the club.
SG – Ha, join the club…
JG – I don’t know. We just want to meet as many people as possible and play for as many people as possible and, I don’t know, we hope we can let people loosen up for thirty minutes a day if they come and see us, and have a good time.
Thank you guys!
JG & SG – No! Thank you!
Be sure to check out The Summer Set on Van’s Warped Tour this summer and go pick up a copy of their first full-length album Love Like This in stores now.