If you’re a high school kid who spends endless hours writing and recording your own solo project on GarageBand, the five-year plan of THE READY SET’s JORDAN WITZIGREUTER is like a dream. As a teenager in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Witzigreuter was in a handful of bands before deciding to concentrate on his own thing at the age of 16. Cultivating a rampant fanbase through MySpace and other online venues, TRS were featured as an unsigned band in AP&R last summer while he toured with Boys Like Girls and Never Shout Never. By November, Pete Wentz came calling and signed TRS to Decaydance. At only 19 years-old, that still leaves him two years in that five-year plan.
INTERVIEW: Lucy Albers
So what’s it like to be on a label?
It’s pretty awesome and definitely very, very exciting. Everybody [at Decaydance] has been really awesome. It feels really good. Things are moving along, but it’s definitely not super-crazy or anything. Everything’s happening at a good pace right now. It’s a good progression.
As someone who’s basically done everything on his own, is it weird to get that extra help?
A little bit. I’ve always had help with, like, management stuff. But the way that everything is going with Decaydance and stuff, I’m still really involved with everything and everything still goes through me. So it’s not like there are things going on without my knowledge or anything. I’m still involved with everything going on which is awesome.
Did you expect to be signed by this point?
When I started this, I always wanted big things to happen really fast and to get things moving while I was young. So I feel like I’m kind of ahead of the game a little bit. I started touring, like, right after I graduated high school and this is really all I’ve been doing since high school. I would be like, “Okay, I’m going to do this for a few years and if things aren’t progressing, I’ll go to college for a few years or whatever.” I kind of knew that I wasn’t going to let that happen. I would spend all my time on MySpace and trying new things, but I definitely intended for everything to get serious and worked hard to make that happen.
So if you weren’t making music, what do you think you’d be doing?
I have no idea and that’s what the problem is. [Laughs.] There’s nothing else that I’d want to do at all. I’d be a mess. I went to college for, like, a semester and I hated it.
How has the recording process been going for the new album?
I went to Los Angeles for, like, three weeks and did some songs with Matt Squire and J.R. Rotem. It was awesome. Both [of them] were really cool. It was really different with each one and each had different ways of doing things, but it was awesome. They were very relaxed and easy to work with.
Is everything recorded?
Just about. I think I’m going back to L.A. after this tour to do one more song, and then I think that’s all. We’re shooting for a release in the spring.
What do the new songs sound like?
It’s just a big progression of what it was before. It’s a big step, with a lot less electronic band stuff and just big, pop stuff. That’s really what I wanted to go for. It was really cool to get to work with producers because I learned a lot more about songwriting and general structure and stuff. So I think the songs are more structured and just bigger overall--way more pop.
Are you happy with the way they’re turning out?
Definitely. I love the [songs] and I’m super-excited about them. We had a lot of old stuff that I recorded last year in, like, the spring, before I had talked to any labels or anything, so we used some of those songs. It’s kind of a combo of old stuff and new stuff, so I think it’ll be good for the older fans and interest new ones, too.
What inspires you when writing lyrics?
Kind of everything. Some of it’s just personal experience and some of it’s just situations I think of and write a song about. Each one is hopefully a little different from the next. It depends on the song. Sometimes I’ll have lyrics where it’s probably only something I’ll get or nobody really knows about. But it’s nothing, like, too weird or anything. I try to make it relatively cool.
Do you have any tour plans for the spring and summer?
We don’t have anything confirmed yet. We’ll see how things go with the first single. We’re shooting a video for it and I think we’re going to release it in March. We’re just getting stuff set up for the spring now. We have all the festival stuff lined up like Bamboozle and everything. After that, it’s still kind of getting figured out.
Are you excited to play Bamboozle?
Yeah, I’ve always wanted to play Bamboozle. I went last year just to go. I didn’t play, but I did a little signing thing, so it’s really exciting to actually be a part of the whole thing instead of just being there. A lot of the headlining bands are going to be sweet.
Anything you can tell us about the video?
It’s going to be really weird and probably not what you’d expect for a very upbeat, poppy song. The video is, like, weird and creepy and stuff. There are zombies in it. That’s all that really matters. [Laughs.] I’ve never made a video before, so I’m going into it having no idea what’s going on. I got a few ideas tossed at me and we kind of went from there. alt