Set To Reflect – The Highwire Daze Legacy Interviews
Set To Reflect: Breaking Out Of Akron
One of the first albums to be unleashed in 2014 was Artificial Sun by Set To Reflect via Standby Records. An intriguing collective from Akron, Ohio, Set To Reflect present a good deal of imagination within their exhilarating compositions. Expect these guys to break out of their hometown as they plan to do a good amount of touring…
Editor’s Note in 2020: Tony McVaney of Set To Reflect would eventually form another band called Northern Ghost – even more intense than his former band. Their album “Happy : Sad : Depressed : Suicidal” was released worldwide via Tragic Hero Records in 2017. I would eventually meet and interview Tony in person at The Slidebar in Fullerton, right before their absolutely explosive set. Our interview is here. In the meantime, here is the earlier interview with Tony while he as in Set To Reflect…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Set To Reflect, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Tony and I sing and scream for the band. Set To Reflect started about 3 years ago.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
We are from Akron, OH and the local scene here is pretty dead now. It flourishes a lot more in Columbus and Dayton, ya know the bigger cities, but there are a couple great bands we’re really good friends with that are from around the area. We’re probably closest with the guys in a sick band called Convictions. Check them out!
How did you wind up signing to Standby Records?
Standby Records got ahold of us after we held an indiegogo campaign to try to fund a record ourselves. We did decent with the campaign and it generated enough buzz for us to get recognized by Standby and they ended up making us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Artificial Sun?
The name Artificial Sun comes from the song on our record “Artificial Sun” and it’s actually the second part of a story, the first part being Long Lost: Divide. I wanted to try a different approach in my lyric writing with these two songs. I tried making it more narrative and creating this fictional world the listeners can visualize in their minds. Long Lost: Divide starts off by following a lone traveller trekking through like a desert/steam punk style environment when he stumbles into a remote village. All the villagers look part human, part machine and it’s been a long time since they’ve seen someone who is 100% human. They all have this mindset that they can make everything better and more efficient by creating these machines and becoming machines themselves. The traveller finds the society fascinating and starts working together with the villagers when he accidentally inspires one of them to create this huge power source. The “Artificial Sun“. It will replace the sun that’s in the sky now and the traveller see’s all the flaws and negative impact that it will have for rest of the world. It’s good for these villagers and their land but the rest of the world won’t be able to survive after so long. The villagers don’t take kindly to the traveller’s input on the idea and end up forcing him down onto a medical table and surgically transforms the traveller into one of them, but something goes wrong during the process and the traveller slips into a coma. That’s where Long Lost: Divide ends. \
Then the title track Artificial Sun starts where the traveller wakes up, seeing nothing but a dark almost desolate world. It’s on the verge of becoming a wasteland. He ends up running into a lost little village boy and tells him about how amazing and beautiful the world used to be, trying to paint a picture with words to this boy who has only seen the dead land. By the end of the song, the traveller knows he has to do something but I’ll save that for another song. There are hidden powers the mechanical sun has and there are some conspiracies that take place within the village. I’d love to turn the idea into a graphic novel or movie or video game someday. I felt it would make a good title for the album because there are a lot similarities in the fictional world and our world. Broken souls, relying on machines, government conspiracies, evil extremist groups. We need to do something about it and make a change before our world ends up like the land of the artificial sun.
How does Artificial Sun compare to the previous Set To Reflect EP?
Artificial Sun is a lot different than our EP. Almost all the songs on the EP we’re being written while picking up the members we have today so there was a completely different dynamic behind those songs. I feel Artificial Sun is more of us finding out who we are as musicians and a band and who I am as a lyricist and singer. There’s been a lot that’s happened in the last 3 years I was able to get off my chest with Artificial Sun so I’m both relieved and excited for everyone to finally hear it.
Any strange or scary stories from the road you could share?
Every day on tour is strange and scary and I love it. Haha. I’ll just say the strangest night we’ve had so far involved a crack house, the West Nile virus and a chicken farm. Oh! And staying the night at an actual haunted house is a close 2nd.
What could one expect from a live Set To Reflect show in 2014?
Probably my favorite part of our live show is that we have really unique light set up that we put together that I’m really proud of. But we still like to keep it really punk and just go insane with a lot of crowd connection.
If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
For me personally, I’d love to open up for Underoath. They’re the reason I got into playing heavy music.
If your music was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Pink frosted sprinkled donut because it can be whatever it wants to be.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Set To Reflect for the very first time?
I just want them to know that we are blown away that they gave our music a chance and how much it means to us. Every new listener that tweets at us or comments us on our social media accounts saying they loved what they heard always gets us stoked. I don’t think I could ever get used to hearing someone say that. Just blows my mind. I’m really grateful for the people who listen to us.
What’s up next for Set To Reflect? Any touring coming up?
A couple music videos and tour tour tour. 2014 is gonna be nothing but non stop touring starting this spring. We have some amazing bands we’re setting up tours with and a couple of them are really good friends so I’m really excited. Big things coming!
Any final words of wisdom?
Don’t do drugs, stay in school.
Set To Reflect is vocalist Tony McVaney, guitarists Alan Bryan and Matthew Scott, bassist Trevor Jenkins, and drummer Will Green.
(Interview by Ken Morton)