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Track By Track: Set Your Goals ‘Burning At Both Ends’

Ben Patashnik
Ben Patashnik 18 May 2011 at 14.21

Matt and Jordan take us through their ace new record. Warning: contains memories, stories and Andrew Neufeld from Comeback Kid.

Set Your Goals' new album 'Burning At Both Ends' is great. We're going to write a proper review of it later this month but for now, we decided to let Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown from the band do our jobs for you and talk you through the record. Even writing this intro has tired us out... so on with the show.

Cure For Apathy
Matt: "All my childhood, I wanted nothing more than to be a famous rock star. Michael Jackson was my idol. Now that I'm in a band that travels the world and have experienced a taste of fame (though it isn't a huge amount in comparison to many), I can say without a doubt that I would absolutely HATE celebrity stardom were it to take over my life. To idolise celebrities the way we do in America seems like a bit of a warped set of ideals to harbour. This is not to say I regret my decision to play music for a living. I love every second of what I do and I value the opportunity to touch people's lives with music, but fame is worthless to me and being in a band has afforded me the ability to distinguish the difference between fame and success; a valuable lesson. That's what this song is about."

Start The Reactor
Matt: "Although a lot of people might not realise it or understand the lifestyle we lead, being in a full-time touring band takes its toll on your personal life in a huge way and when you commit to doing it, you take on a number of stresses unlike any you'd find in your average 9-to-5 job. The important thing to remember is that the good outweighs the bad at the end of the day and though it can be difficult at times, to keep our perspective and remember the reasons why we do this."

Jordan: "We were in the recording studio with Brian McTernan when he said 'Write me a hit!' We didn't have one for the record yet, and that day we jammed out the music for this song and one other in all but 30 minutes or less. Sometimes 'Keep it simple, stupid!' (Brian) is the best way to go. I just remember sitting on the couch in his control room playing these chords one after the other, and it all made sense. I couldn't have played it through more than two times before Mikey took it to put drums to. I don't think we've ever written a song this easily."

Happy New Year
Matt: "2010 was the worst year of my life. Although this turned out to be the darkest song on the record lyrically, the overall message was intended to be an eagerness to see what the future had in store for me because I was in a place where things could only get better. This was a very cathartic experience for me and my words served as my therapy."

London Heathrow
Jordan: "This was the second song that got written the day Brian said 'Write me a hit!'. It had an early Smashing Pumpkins feel (of sorts) to us, so the working title for the sessions became that. It's a very vibey, groovy piece of music through and through. I think the bridge is my favorite part of the song. For the lyrics: so I'll get these premonitions, mostly in the form of day-dreams. Vivid visions or senses of things to come anywhere from five seconds into the future to a day, week, or month into it. They typically have scared the shit out of me, but the song is about one recent one which was pretty cool. It took place at London Heathrow airport last December when we were waiting for standby flights home after they had shut down all out-going flights (due to bad weather). It'd take a lot out of me to explain it all right now, so come ask me at a show! Or in a future interview if that would work."

Matt: "This song is about the promise that the touring lifestyle seems to offer. To an outsider or starry-eyed kid embarking on his first tour, it may seem to be a very glamorous life, but it's one that you can only truly understand once you've lived it. I drew parallels between war veterans and weathered road warriors because it seemed like an easy way to describe something that is often falsely represented to be more exciting, more lucrative, less consequential, or less dangerous than it actually is."

The Last American Virgin
Matt: "This song is named after one of my favorite 80s movies. If you haven't seen it, I strongly urge you check it out! I don't want to ruin the ending, but what initially struck me about this unique film is that, although very light-spirited at times, this 80s comedy gets real at times too. Just like in real life, sometimes the ending isn't happy. The story focuses on a boy and girl who continually grow close only to pull apart again. I fashioned the lyrics after the movie because I felt they were not only applicable to a situation in my life, but also relatable to anyone who may happen to read/listen to them. They're left open ended... much like real life."

Exit Summer
Matt: "The music for this song was written back in 04 / 05 with the 'Mutiny!' demos. We were stoked to finally turn it into a song and I wrote the lyrics about an internal conflicting of ideals and doubts within the band. We all have doubts and wonder whether we've chosen the right path in life from time to time, and at the end of the day the only way to win is to choose the path of least regret."

Matt: "The lyrics to this song are very personal and it wasn't an easy one for me to write. Last October I received some surprising news about someone I grew up with and had known to be a good person through and through had done something very wrong (and very uncharacteristic of them), and I didn't know how to process it or respond to it appropriately. It's hard to get into much detail about this without just outright saying what it was, but basically my initial reaction came out of anger and it was to completely cut them out of my life, but after thinking it over at great length, I realised that obviously something was not right with them in order for them to do what they did. I realized that what they needed was my support, because that's what family is about. The first step in helping someone with a problem is making an attempt to understand their condition."

Product Of The 80s
Matt: "The working title for this song was 'Cars' because we felt it had a feel similar to something The Cars would write. Since we thought it sounded kind of like an 80s song, I was inspired to write the lyrics about what it was like to grow up in the 80s and how that shaped me into the person I am today."

Jordan: "I made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions and it had a severe effect on my surroundings, including the people around me. The song is pretty schizophrenic, from the verses to the choruses to the bridge, and then to the outro of the song. Like the music for 'Certain' had been written, the lyrics for this track were written the same; as just one long train of inner thought. First from confusion and fear, to want / need, to carelessness, and finally to remorse and forgiveness. 'Raphael' was the working title and I felt it was a good album title for the song, too. We were giving all the songs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle references in the studio and in the first TMNT film, Raphael's character is pretty identical to the personality of these words. It's a pretty serious and real film if you go back and take a look. No kids' play."

Illuminated Youth (feat. Andrew Neufeld)
Jordan: "A good part of the song was written while we were on tour with Paramore and The Starting Line in the fall of 2007. Outside a venue in Chicago, Illinois (before doors opened for the evening), a block full of people waited in anticipation for the band's show. Excitement grew more as the stage crew ran in and out of the back doors as the headliners soundchecked their sets for the show that night (a taste of the music that was to come in just a few hours). But 'Illuminated Youth' is an overall invitation to a place where someone can leave all their troubles and worries behind and live in moments made possible by live music and the communities centered around live music. Everyone feels isolated and / or trapped at one point in their life, and this is somewhere you can come to feel complete and content, if only for just one night. "Tomorrow's so far away," so live in just today."

Not As Bad
Jordan: "Brian McTernan felt this song was a little too 90s alternative / post hardcore / indie-sounding, and having worked with bands like Texas Is The Reason, he was in the right to call that out. I took it as a compliment even though I think he intended it to mean something else ha ha. Either way, we made the song happen for the record, and it feels like the pick of the litter to me. It's the oddball song out. The words are about throwing caution to the wind and breaking all the rules you were ever given. You have see what works for you. If it's bad (which it very well could not be) then you'll at least know for sure, but chances are, until you've tried something it's not ever what it seems it to be (before you had tried out whatever it is). It could be something awesome."

Calaveras (Japanese Import Version, Bonus Song)
Matt: "Mikey wrote the music for this song as opposed to Jordan writing the bulk of the guitar, so naturally it didn't sound like the rest of the record. We all really liked how it turned out though so we wanted to use it for something and it ended up being the Japanese B-side. I wrote these lyrics about my old house, 4100 Calaveras Drive. This place was like the den of iniquity. I don't know how, but miraculously, the cops never came no matter how out of hand our partying and debauchery would get. There were several 'generations' to live in this house before and after the six people I lived with moved in / out, but our time there was definitely the wildest."

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