Don’t want to go back to school? Don’t want to see your boss and coworkers again ? So please, come in and take a seat, we have a little surprise for you. Few minutes before their show in Paris last April, Maxx and Zach took a moment to answer a few questions. Let’s go back to this cool moment and be ready for their next tour this fall. Set It Off will be at Le Petit Bain, on October 23.
Hello guys. Your next album Midnight has been out for a few weeks now. Can you speak about this new baby and the new concept behind the actual design?
Maxx: When we started talking about this new record, I think we really wanted to change things up. I always had this kind of bright blue / white and this diamond look. We wanted to start over, kinda have a fresh start. The idea of the hourglass initially came up as a transition from day to night. And also if you take the diamond and just move it a little bit, it turns into an hourglass, which is also pretty cool. But the initial concept came from the idea that you only have so much time, you need to take advantage of every second you have. We spent a lot of time in the past putting our fate in other people’s hands, just waiting around, hoping for something to come around. This time we wanted to say « we’re going to do it our own way ».
Zach: When we all started to talk about making a record and what we wanted to do, we didn’t want to abandon everything that we’d done in the past but we wanted to bring back some other things. We wanted to bring all of our sounds together. As a band you go through different sounds and we wanted to bring them all together with Midnight. We’ve got everything that we wanted from the old stuff and newer stuff. I think fans will notice it.
We can see with your “behind the scenes” that you’re not afraid to confront your ideas and what you truly want…
Maxx: Another very very important aspect of this record to us was being honest. Celebrating the good times but also there are dark moments and you kinda need both in life so we’re going to talk about if we are nervous, upset or angry. We’re not going to be afraid or hide that from anyone. We’re going to be as us as we can be.
I feel like this aesthetic is pretty much at the center of everything. Every little detail is meaningful. We can truly see things are changing concerning your sound but also you way of seeing things. Like you said you « spent a lot of time in the past putting our fate in other people’s hands », maybe the sand between the hands on the cover is the symbolism of this idea?
Maxx: I think there’s a couple of meanings. If you’re looking to the album Upside Down, it’s light blue, it looks like daytime. It’s very Pop and bright. Musically and aesthetically. And so we were talking about coming back to our roots, to a darker sound. It was actually that transition from day to night. That’s where the idea of midnight came from. We also wanted to establish this idea of « if you wake up in the middle of the night, everything seems really strange, kinda weird”. We wanted to bring that feeling to life. And so, for our set, there’s this countdown and when it’s over it says “Welcome to Midnight”. It becomes now. The whole world is changing and this is our moment. And whatever happened the day before, you’re going to have a fresh start at Midnight. And I think this record was a fresh start for us. To take a step back in what made Set It Off Set It Off and use that to make the best record possible.
Maxx, you have some incredible photographer skills. Your Art is very personal and different. It really expresses an interesting way to see the world and its part of magic. I saw you were colorblind. Does it influence your work? And all this blue area with Midnight?
Maxx: When I was trying to edit photos, I often unintentionally made people’s skin green or the sky was purple so instead of trying to make it look exactly how it was supposed to, I just decided « well it’s going to look that way. » So I was making the sky red or whatever on purpose. I think there’s a lot of that idea in the Midnight era. If you’re looking at the album, the hands have six fingers instead of five for example. We wanted something a little bit off from reality.
You guys seem really obsessed by Midnight, right? I mean, I have to ask: what would happen to you if I gave you food after Midnight? (Gremlins joke)
Zach: We turn into Gremlins!
Maxx: Actually if I eat after Midnight, If I hate too much Pizza I get nightmares so…
Zach: Do you, really?
Maxx: Yeah, I think it’s just the cheese maybe…
Zach: I only have nightmares if I go to bed hungry.
More seriously, Maxx you have your own drum solo during this tour. What a great surprise! Bands really used to do it in the past. That’s something really Rock’n’roll but we’re not really used to it anymore. How did you have this idea?
Maxx: This the first time we’ve ever done this. This is the first headlining tour we’ve done in a very long time. So we’ve kinda been brainstorming and trying to figure out how in some ways we could do different shows from the shows we had in the past. So we figured we’d give it a shot and I wanted to do something different because, as a drummer, I enjoy watching someone playing, you know, just as fast as he can during 5 or 10 minutes. For other people who maybe don’t play drums, that might sound a little bit like noise. So, I wanted to incorporate some artists I really love into that. That way I can have this drum moment but also people can move their heads and sing along.
Now you’re playing your new songs live what’s your favorite so far?
Zach: I think one of my favorite songs on this record is definitely Dancing With The Devil. We made a big contest to know which one between For You Forever and Dancing With The Devil should be our next video and I kinda secretly wanted that song to win. I didn’t push for it but I was really happy about that one winning because it feels like it’s the fans’ song. We play it for them. It just feels really cool to see people singing along.
Maxx: I don’t think I can pick just one. Lately, it’s been For You Forever, I really like that one but it changes all the time.
Before these videos, you gave us an amazing one for Lonely Dance. The Alien vibe is strong. How did you have this idea? And mostly, who are the geeks in the band? I want names!
Maxx: The main topic is being alone. We were trying to figure out « where’s the place to be the most alone? » « Oh, space! ». So that was the initial idea. We love all this Sci-Fi stuff, the aliens… Luckily apparently there was a station in Hollywood. So we were able to go there and create this idea of someone who wants to be alone so badly that he pushed everyone away to finally have a second on his own. It’s hard to do it, especially when you are on the road, it’s hard to get a second to yourself. There’s a lot of people with us. Sometimes you just want to be isolated, be by yourself, but that’s okay.
Many fans have interpretations concerning the Dancing With The Devil’s video. Are you really in purgatory?
Zach: I think Purgatory is the perfect choice.
Maxx: It’s left to interpretation.
Zach: Yes, you can make it what you want it to be. But I think it’s Purgatory to me. It’s where we go after we die in the previous video…
Maxx: Before Upside Down going into Midnight, we were kinda stuck, we wanted to tour but we were kinda stuck at home and it really felt like Purgatory. And I think that a lot of Dancing With The Devil was written about that time. We wanted to create and we were stuck, at this time we felt like the clock wasn’t moving. We were like stuck in there waiting for something to happen. So, yeah, I think it’s Purgatory.
Who’s or what’s this devil you are talking about in your video? The one you don’t have time to lose time with?
Maxx: For us I think it was these people who had our dreams between their hands and may have had malicious intent. They promised us the world and took our hands off of the wheel instead of helping us focus and keep our eyes on the prize. So, I think we wasted a lot of time trying to work with this kind of people. It’s anyone in our life who is toxic or who is not going to be good for us.
In your videos, evil never has the same face but always seems to be something unreal in your video: aliens, the devil…
Zach: It’s about your own interpretation… Evil is different for every one of us.
Maxx: You can be your own worst enemy sometimes.
Set It Off may just be humans like you and me and have their own demons but fans were definitely by their sides during this whole European Sold Out tour. Don’t miss our pics of the Paris and Hamburg shows right here.