Track-By-Track: Set It Off, ‘Cinematics’

September 17, 2012 by Matthew Colwell

Track-By-Track: Set It Off, ‘Cinematics’

Making waves in pop-rock with a theatrical foundation since their inaugural EP, Baby, You Don't Tripajaharda, the band’s debut full-length  doesn’t slow things down with a heavy dose of orchestral arrangements, including the band’s own members performing on clarinets and trumpets throughout. Hitting shelves September 18 on Equal Vision, frontman Cody Carson wrote up a guide to the songs for AP. Check it out below and stream the record, too.

1. “Thoughts That Breathe”
Because of the orchestral importance in the Set It Off sound, we thought we'd introduce the songs with a dark, driving, brief orchestral composition. I'm a huge fan of film scoring and classical music in general. This intro started as me just fooling around with some strings and we all ended up liking it so much that we decided have it introduce the album. It is heavily influenced by Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight) and just a dash of Danny Elfman (Edward Scissor Hands, The Nightmare Before Christmas).

2. “Nightmare”
I have had really bad anxiety since I can remember. I'd like to attribute that to the multiple horror films I would watch as a very young child. My mind always jumps to the worst case scenario and it manifests these terrible thoughts that haven't even happened yet. The second verse is about a specific anxiety attack I had. I was in a movie theatre sitting at the top row when, for no reason at all, I get this awful gut feeling that someone in my family is hurt. The thought didn't disappear. It exacerbated until I had to get up and attempt to call my mom to check on her. I started to walk down the stairs when suddenly I got tunnel vision and my entire body went cold. I fell to the floor of the theatre lobby and screamed for help. I literally thought I was dying. I was living in a nightmare. The bridge of this song compares anxiety attacks to plunging to your death from atop a building. You can almost see your end right in front of you and you feel helpless until you hit the ground. Then, you end up right back at the top of that building looking down wondering what the hell just happened.

3. “Swan Song”
Swan Song: n. A person's final public performance or professional activity before retirement.
This song is meant for the people that have had someone they care about walk out of their life completely. There have been people in my life who promised they'd never leave my side. Some of them have stayed true to their word and some have abandoned me entirely. I wrote this song to be my last ditch effort to get in touch with them again before throwing in the towel on the relationship all together.

4. “Plastic Promises”
This was probably the most fun to work on in the studio. Having played clarinet for 13 years and being as into jazz, it was too fun having the opportunity to incorporate the two into a song. Dan Clermont and myself were in the Tarpon Springs High School Jazz Ensemble, and I learned a lot about the structure of jazz songs. Knowing that Dan plays the trumpet as well as he does, I decided to insert a challenging horn feature into this song. There's a be-bop feel and also a really dirty, sexy half-time swing section. The real challenge was figuring out how to evenly integrate fast swing and rock without leaning heavily on either side of the musical plane. The subject of this song is becoming fed up with being handed empty promises and just moving on.

5. “I'll Sleep When I'm Dead”
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I don't sleep. I have a real problem with going to bed at a decent hour and always have. I guess you could say I'm a self-proclaimed insomniac and it sucks to say the least. It does have its perks like more productive evenings, though. This song is focused on the delirium that ensues after many sleepless hours. When we brought this song into the studio with Zack and Ken, we weren't sure if it was going to make it onto the record. I didn't write melodies or lyrics for anything but the chorus at that point, but I had a really good feeling about it. So Dan grabbed the guitar to play the chords while I sifted through some melody ideas I had. We went into the live room and within 15 minutes I had melodies to the entire song. We brought it back for everyone to hear, and we all instantly got very excited about it. My assignment that night was to write the lyrics to this song. Naturally, I didn't get to it until 4am. The sleep deprivation was settling in, and I was in the perfect mood for it. The most fun part about our songs, to me, are the moods cultivated by the orchestral instruments. Pay attention to the driving staccato string ensemble in the second verse and the "ghost choir" in the bridge.

6. “No Control”
The hardest thing I've had to learn in life is that there are going to be unfortunate things that happen to you and the people around you and also that some of these things are completely out of your control. Sometimes you have no choice but to watch something beautiful fall apart right in front of your eyes, whether it be a parents' divorce, losing a loved one, terminal illness, or anything that you personally cannot remedy. You have to learn that life isn't always necessarily fair and to make the best out of what you have while you still have it. This song is basically my accepting this fact of life. It's also my way of venting about certain things of this nature that I've had no choice but to endure. This song is the first time we've experimented with the standard "pop/punk beat" and honestly we had a blast with contrasting the speed of that to the power of a halftime chorus.

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set it off equal vision track-by-track cinematics

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