The Ready Set: Backstage at the Fonda in Hollywood
It was the final night of the Emblem3 / The Ready Set tour, with the last show of the tour taking place at the opulent Fonda Theater in Hollywood. On tour in support of the recently issued I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love, The Ready Set played a solid and vibrant set, certainly impressing the longtime converts as well as gaining a good amount of new fans in the process. One could easily see a thoroughly revitalized band, having the time of their lives back on the road once more.
Prior to their standout performance. we caught up with Jordan Witzigreuter, the mastermind behind The Ready Set, for a backstage interview. Read on as we discuss the new record, touring with Emblem3, advice for a young artist seeking a record deal, how his side project NEKOKAT inspired a new renaissance of creation for The Ready Set, and other topics of intrigue…
How is this tour with Emblem3 been going and what have been some of the highlights for you?
Tonight is the last show, it’s been really amazing, playing to a lot of people who haven’t heard my stuff before is kinda always the goal with a support tour. And then a lot of people are finding they haven’t seen you since 2011. Its really cool to see people coming back around, and hopefully getting into the newer stuff, the newer album and all that. Really fun to have tours where the crew is super chill. I love it.
How does I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love compare to all the previous The Ready Set releases?
I think I overall feel the happiest with this one just cause like it’s done entirely on my own without outside influence really. Or like there was no label giving me song input or anything like that. There were no hands I didn’t want involved with it. I had the album done before I signed with Hopeless so I basically just presented it to them, and they were like “Let’s do it.” Produced it at my house, didn’t go to the studio or anything – just used a computer and a keyboard and did it the way I did it when I started. And I think because of that it just made me feel like I was getting back to why I liked doing this in the first place – the joy of making something on your own came back – which is really cool.
Was there any pressure producing yourself?
There was, but I did take a little bit of time off from doing Ready Set stuff, where I took a year and did a couple of college shows. I spent a lot of that time just working on honing the production stuff a little bit more and started producing for other people. And that made me feel confident enough to feel like I don’t need someone else to make whatever. This is better! I feel like it’s gotten more of a unique voice to it.
Is there overall story or concept behind that title I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love?
It’s supposed to be some kind of realization almost. It’s like through the whole thing, it’s good to set an underlying tone of the fear of loss almost and just like the fear of things not being the way you want them to be. And finding peace in that, and finding positivity in all that. (Facing the) potential negative and realizing that’s not always going to be the case – you can make things whatever you want. But I also wanted to have a long album title. [laughs]
Select any two songs from the album and tell me what inspired the lyrics.
The first song is called “Disappearing Act” and that one is about my career so far, or just how I sort of drift in and out of the picture and it’s usually not by my own accord. It’s sort of like a sadder song but a little more of an anthem type of thing just for strength and finding strength in yourself. I love that one lyrically, definitely one of my favorite songs. Probably my favorite lyrically on the album.
There’s another song, the last song on the album called “See You,” it’s this real slow piano ballad song and it’s about losing somebody, like dying and stuff. Dying and stuff sounds so weird. [laughs] This song, is a sequel to that song of the other side, where you’re the person being lost. Not the person who’s losing somebody. It’s sort of the other way around. It’s a weird take on that, sort of fun happy stuff. But yeah, those are our two favorite lyrically for sure.
Has Cyndi Lauper heard or commented on your cover of Time After Time?
I don’t think so. If she has, I have not seen it. I hope she likes it.
What made you decide to do that song?
I love that era of music. I got super into that time period when I was writing this record. I thought it’d be cool to do a real sad sounding dreary version of it. My manager was like, you should just do some cover of an 80s song. It was like, yeah – I should.
You have another band, NEKOKAT. How does that project differ from The Ready Set? Are you going to still do it?
Yeah, as soon as i’m done with this album cycle and our drummer Jess is done with done with The Summer Set stuff, we’ll probably get back and do some of that. It’s definitely different, more rocky and there’s more live instruments. Guitar and bass and real drums, etc. That’s kind of the reason I got re-inspired to make this album. We just started writing those songs, completely not worried about making pop songs or making anything that’s anything other than what came out. It kind of got me back in that mindset of writing and not overthinking it. That just made it so fun. And that’s the way I started writing, really, when I began The Ready Set. Just doing whatever sounded cool. I think I have NEKOKAT to blame for my new album, whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
What advice would you give a young artist seeking a record deal in this day and age?
Honestly, I don’t think anyone should be looking for record labels right now. I think the idea now is to build value for yourself, beforehand. Before you involve anyone else who’s going to help you do things, you need to make sure you’re bringing something to the table to where you’re not going to be in debt to them. Whether it’s financially or any other way. You have to make sure that you’re worth something. Build your band, build your artist name and make your songs amazing. Then, when it works out, they’ll come to you and look at you as something really valuable. That’s when it works out the best, I think. You don’t want to go and beg to be on a label. It’s all about surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and see your vision. I think you gotta do it yourself for as long as you possibly can and go from there.
What’s up next for The Ready Set once this tour is over?
Sleep for a while, I think. [laughs] I don’t know, we don’t have any tours fully booked right now. Were talking about doing some things at the end of the summer. I’d like to do a headliner, I think, small rooms. We did a few off dates on this tours that were in 200 cap rooms and it was really fun. It just felt cool. I want to do something like that, hopefully make that happen. Then, I assume we’ll do 2-3 more tours this year. Then we’ll just go back and start writing again. Honestly, I already have the next few weeks on my calendar on my phone just all blocked out for writing. Back and forth, either on tour or making stuff, [laughs].
Any Christmas songs coming up?
Probably, now is the season for making Christmas songs. You gotta do it before it’s too late. I don’t know if I’m gonna do a Ready Set Christmas song, but I might have to write a few Christmas songs, get the holiday cheer up…
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)