The Summer Set: "Live first, write later"

The Summer Set
Ian Collins

"Live first, write later." That's the motto singer Brian Dales followed when writing The Summer Set's new album, released last week.

"That was probably the most important thing I could have been told -- because when we started writing the record I was just so focused on writing songs I wasn't really inspired by anything," Dales told

Dales said he didn't want the pop-rock group's latest release to turn into "part two" of the band's 2011 set, "Everything's Fine." He didn't want another "emotional record." But before diving in, he needed to remember how to live life again.

"I remember one night about a year ago we were having a pool party at the house," he recalled. "Everybody was outside hanging out and I was sitting inside like an anti-social loser, watching 'How I Met Your Mother' re-runs. And I'm sitting there -- and I'm like, 'OK Brian. You gotta get it together.'"

He said in that moment he wrote a "ridiculous chorus idea." And despite the silliness of the song's initial concept, he mustered up the courage to play it for guitarist John Gomez and bassist Stephen Gomez. It turns out, the idea wasn't so silly, after all.

That was the song "Legendary," the title track of The Summer Set's new album. "That was the song that set the precedent and inspired the rest of the songs on the record," said Dales. "Right after that, John and I were out in L.A. and we were writing five songs a week, just banging them out. It was just so cool to spend such a large period of time on the record," Dales said.

Soon, the songs started coming together. Dales' move from Phoenix to Los Angeles sparked "all these brand new life experiences." And he quickly had a lot to write about. "'Legendary' became this record about letting go of everything you've been dwelling upon and having the best time that you can -- and trying to be the best version of yourself you can be."

The Summer Set ended up with so many songs that it became tough to narrow them all down to just 12 tracks. Some of those leftover songs could end up another release, or even be recorded by another act. "A great song is always going to find its home...I would love for our songs to find another home that would be more appropriate than a Summer Set record," Dales said.

But for now, The Summer Set is living up to its name, gearing up for a busy summer on the road, joining the Vans Warped tour from June-August. The members of The Summer Set already know the ropes; they did the Warped trek back in 2010.

"We are no longer rookies. I know what I'm getting into this time," Dales said, adding, "The most important thing about the Vans Warped tour is that it kind of feels like 'Groundhog Day.' You wake up on your bus in a different city that looks exactly the same because you're in either a parking lot, an amphitheater or a field. And all the signs are set up the same because you're looking for production, catering, or your stage...But it's fun. It's kind of a punk-rock circus. Obviously we're far from a punk-rock band, but we hold our own."

The Summer Set's members will be holding their own when they take the stage night after night, performing songs off "Legendary." And Dales says he couldn't be more excited.

"It's weird. We've been a band since we were teenagers...This is our third record, but it feels like our first record...and it's the proudest I've ever been of a record because after five years, I feel we've finally really figured out what we're doing."