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Summer Set lifts spirits with pop music mix

Never underestimate the power of a feel-good record. With the bombardment of bad news on a seemingly day-to-day basis, pop music is a saving grace for some and a pick-me-up for many others. It has an impact, of that we can be sure. So when you infuse pop music with punk aesthetic and ideals, you’re bound to grab some attention.

Enter The Summer Set, a Phoenix quintet (vocalist Brian Dales, drummer Jess Bowen, bassist Stephen Gomez and guitarists John Gomez and Josh Montgomery) that straddles the  line between pop and pop-punk. The band is an interesting anomaly since it gathers fans from both sides, without falling fully into either camp. The Summer Set's  undeniable skill with hooks and memorable sing along lyrics show a  mastery over popular music, with just enough edge with instrumentation to show it can play with the senior class of pop-punk artists. The sound is sweet with a little bit of sour. The band released its newest record, “Stories for Monday,” in April and will perform Oct. 19 in the Waiting Room. I spoke with singer Dales about the unique place the band finds itself in within the industry.

Question: As a singer, did you face any unique challenges during the recording of the new record? What was your thought process when writing?

Answer: There were definitely challenges with this record, even more so than others. That came from it being our fourth album and it was all about figuring out how to grow with what we were doing. There were times where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to just come up with one more song, until I took a step back and realized we had a lot of good material for this record.

Q: How did you want to shift the instrumentation from your last album to your new one?

A: I think our last record and this record are more similar than our first two. But the shift came in the fact that we self-produced this record. Because of that fact it turned out exactly how we wanted it to sound.

Q: As a band who really has a firm grasp of pop music without being truly immersed in that world, do you feel you have a deeper understanding of what “pop” really is and can be used for?

A: I spent a few years in L.A. between our last record and this one trying my hand as a pop music songwriter, writing and pitching songs for other artists. I was writing with a lot of songwriters in the pop music world, and I learned a lot. There’s a lot of songs on the record that I originally wrote for someone else, and then I realized I’m attached to them.

Q: Do you think that music like yours captures the sense of embracing the good times that we find between the stress of everyday life?

A: That’s certainly the case. That’s sort of what you can hope for when you make a record like this one.

Q: As a band, how do you guys maintain your center when tastes and trends shift so quickly in the industry?

A: Sort of just by not caring about any trends. When you’re making a record that takes years, music trends shift every nine months so it’s impossible to keep track of it in the middle of the process anyway. By the time you’re making something that’s trendy, it’s out of style the next time you look, so you just have to ignore all of that.

Q: Does it ever get harder to write about yourself and look inwards from record to record?

A: I think it’s harder. To be fair, a lot of songs from our first record were more trivial, and now I take a lot more pride in being honest. A song like “Figure Me Out,” which is the most honest song on the record took me an hour to write, and songs like “All In” which is about going out and having a good time, it took the course of a year. So it’s hard to pin down how things will turn out.



Who: The Summer Set

When: Oct. 19; doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: The Waiting Room, 334 Delaware Ave.

Tickets: $17 (


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