The Summer Set have won Macy's Rising Star contest, and will be performing in front of thousands at iHeartRadio's 3rd annual iHeartRadio Muisc Festival at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas this September.
The band is really excited about winning and recently stopped by iHeartRadio HQ where they talked about the competition, their musical influences, crashing weddings, and even some hidden talents! Get to know The Summer Set below:
How does it feel to have won the Macy’s Rising Star contest?
Brian: Really excited. I think that was one of the coolest things we've ever done as a band ‘cause it was such an interesting way to engage the fans that we've built over 5 years of touring now. To see them respond so immediately to a contest like that and vote for us repeatedly, thousands of times a day was really kinda gratifying. I’m really excited to see what happens next and we’re really excited for the show.
Josh: That would be the biggest show we'd ever play to date. It’s just that, I think regardless of anything happening, the iHeart Radio Show or anything, it was just an accomplishment to watch the people we have worked right over the years come together for us and root for us is pretty humbling. I guess it’s like winning an imaginary trophy. Yeah it’s just like wow that people actually do care about us.
What are you looking forward to the most about performing at the festival?
John & Brian: Vegas!
Are you nervous?
Brian: I don’t think so. We played Bamboozle main stage in New Jersey a couple years ago and that was, at that time the biggest show we'd ever played.
Stephen: We played like all size [crowds].
Jess: We heard rumor of who would be possibly, maybe playing right after us, and if it is true, if we find this out, if it’s actually true, I will be very nervous.
Josh: And I’m gonna freak out. All right, just saying it. My whole family had rooms booked at the hotel before the contest was even in like the final five. My family is going. It's going to be like an episode of the "Real World" there. I’m gonna need to have like security remove my family.
Did you get to check out any of the competition?
Brian: We checked various artists in the competition, I remember my favorite artist that was in the competition was an artist called Royal Teeth, the band from Louisiana who I’ve known about for a little over year now and I’ve met in passing a few times. I think that band's amazing. So I’m just really excited to see what they do. I’ve met Jake Miller before and he seems to be doing very well regardless of the contest. Printz Board, this guy just casually produced some Black Eyed Peas stuff. Okay, I'm gonna bow down to you, you're awesome!
Josh: I tweeted him a few times, he never got back to me. But I was like yo, regardless of what happens, I think you're awesome, we should write sometime. Didn't get any love back from Printz. You win some, you lose some.
What made you wanna get involved in the competition in the first place?
Brian: It was so different than anything we had ever done. And when we had the opportunity presented to us to do the competition, it was the such an exciting opportunity to kinda bring our existing fans of many years together to vote for us, as well as meeting new people, and seeing all the possibilities of what could happen if we did win. I think it opened a lot of doors. We knew it was an opportunity to try new things.
How did you hear about it?
Josh: I mean Megan & Liz is like really close with my family. My young brother Cameron dated a Liz throughout them going through the competition. So I was with Liz and seeing how you know, she was like, Tweet for me, vote for me! She’s a sweetheart and I love those girls. They’re very close with our family. But I got to watch her anxieties go through it, and my mom was in love Liz as well because it was her son’s girlfriend. And so she was like, "Liz I wanna come but the …" That’s why my family had a hotel rooms booked because last year it was already sold out and so this year, I made mama proud. But you know it was very cool, it was very cool to watch Megan and Liz go through all of that.
Brian: And then Fearless Records, our label, brought up the opportunity to us, and asked if we wanted do it and having the contest already have been on our radar, because of, for example Megan & Liz last year. We knew it was something we wanted to check out. We saw them at the Macy's Day Parade, that was pretty wild. We did a cover with them on YouTube a few years ago.
How was it performing in Macy's, in an actual department store?
Brian: Very different than any show we've ever played. And we've played very crazy shows. I remember specifically, we were sound checking and some like old lady was walking to like the area where bedding and all that is. And I remember her like looking and like plugging her ears, and then scurrying off like this all hunch over. And I was just like, okay well this is probably a lot weirder for you than it is for me. Loud band just playing in the department store.
Josh: The best part, what made my day, is there was kids out there from like 7 in the morning. A huge line, it was so cool to watch our fans, who go to punk rock clubs to watch us play, show up at the Macy's. But we see this old guy walking through, and all of a sudden he looks at me and says Josh, Brian? And it was the guy who produced our second record.
Did you get to go shopping?!
Brian: Yeah, we got some awesome clothes!
How do you feel about being in the Macy's Back to School campaign and filming a commercial, like Megan & Liz did?
Brian: Yeah, we're excited we're filming that. We've never been in one of those. We're pretty stoked about it, I think it's hilarious.
John: I'm going to put it on my grave stone.
How do you think that winning this competition will affect your career?
John: It’s a very tricky question. It's a weird world, musc is weird. It sells, it doesn't sell. Everyone listens to everything right now, music worlds are colliding. We've been a band for five years, we've traveled the world a few times before this and have had opportunities grow out of us just being in a band, and using the internet to our advantage. We were kids who loved Myspace and were obsessed with making our own fan pages popular. And all of a sudden, people started listening to our band. I don't know what the future holds. We're just interested in making music and trying to get it out to as many people as possible.
Brian: I'm excited to see, based off the 6 years of touring and social networking we've done, how many doors something like this, something so different, can open.
Josh: As long we get to do what we love, and this is what we love to do. We went into this competition knowing like win or lose, we’re still gonna have our fans, we’re still gonna tour, we’re still gonna keep growing. So anything that happens now and through this competition is just an added bonus.
You guys just released a new album?
Brian: Yes, it's called Legendary, it's our third record, but it kind of feels like the first one all over again. We’re very, very proud of it. We've been touring it up for a couple months now, and we've played a handful of the songs. And the response and the reaction from online to seeing people talk about the songs, to the reaction at shows has been unbelievable. Just totally floored.
Is that the songs you're going to be playing at the festival?
Brian: There's definitely like, extreme fan favorites from both of our first two records that we will always keep for shows like iHeartRadio, and then a handful of songs from the new record.
Who have been your musical influences? You guys used to do Blink 182 covers!
John: Yeah and that’s funny because we've been playing together for 11 years. We started the band just so we could play our school's Sadie Hawkins dance, and that's really as far as we wanted to take it -and obviously the cards fell a little bit differently. So that was 10 years ago, and I remember me and my brother's next-door-neighbor introduced us to Blink 182. So we started covering like, Blink 182 and New Found Glory. But as of now as a collective, our influences are all over the place. We're all '90s children, we all love Third Eye Blind, Hanson. I love Backstreet Boys, I have every Backstreet Boys record.
Brian: I grew up in a household with parents who worship Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac. And I think, my whole life, I've just looked up to him as a song-writer, and as a human being. And from Bruce Springsteen, to Justin Timberlake (who is one of my idols), to Jay-Z. We've been geeking out over the new Jay-Z record that just came out. I think, with very eclectic tastes between all five of us, I think that's what makes our Summer Set product such a unique experience.
How is the Vans Warped Tour going?
Brian: Great, it's our second time we’ve done it. We did it in 2010 so this year I feel like we know what we're doing this time. Every show we've had, knock on wood - which I'm knocking on a guitar right now - has been awesome. And we're about halfway through, and we've had amazing shows the whole time.
Josh: We’ve already had, it is so strange because there is a disconnect between the alternative music scene, and the top 40 Billboard music scene, there is a disconnect. And we might as well just own up to it. Our goals hasn't been headline Warped Tour and then stop playing music. Or just be a song on the radio and disappear. We want the dichotomy of both. So many little girls come up to us and go, you're like the first punk band I've ever listened to.
John: And then when we go on Warped Tour, metal fans are like, you guys are the first pop band I've liked.
Brian: I think we're bridging the gap, and it's a very exciting time. As far as that "have your cake and eat it too" phrase goes, I think we really want that.
What's your favorite part of touring together?
Brian: We’ve been touring together, nine months a year for so long, that life on tour makes more sense to me than life off tour. It’s just something I’ll never get over about waking up in a new city everyday. Now at this point, waking up in a new city everyday that you've been to before, being able to walk around in New York without my iPhone for directions is really exciting. And to see new faces and familiar faces every show is very cool. We've built such a community over five years.
John: It’s cool to see growth and change. Like every show when we come back to the cities, it's like 50 more people, 50 more people, 50 more people. I personally love waking up early in the morning on the bus, having some coffee, and cleaning.
Do you have any funny road stories?
Brian: In 2009 we were on tour with some friends, and we were in Cincinnati, Ohio. And we had a show, and when the show was over it was kinda late. It’s like 11 or 12, and we were pretty tired. We were touring back then, and we go to some Marriott hotel in Cincinnati, and there’s just people everywhere outside. There’s hundreds of people at this hotel, and we're like wow, wonder what's going on at the hotel. We walk in to the lobby to check into our rooms, and there is a sign that says "Congratulations David and Jessica." And I look around and I'm like guys put on the nicest clothes you have, this is a wedding and we’re crashing it, and we did. At first it was like, we got caught and I think people we kind of frustrated. But the movie "Wedding Crashers" I guess made it so acceptable and kind of hilarious to have someone crashed your wedding. And then by the time the night was over, the bride and groom's parents opened a bar tab for us. And as if that couldn't get any crazier, R&B group Pretty Ricky was just casually staying at the hotel at the same time. So all of a sudden we were hanging out with them.
Josh: They had like leather jackets with rhinestones, and red sparkles on them. It was out of control.
Do you have any backstage rituals that you do before you go on stage?
John: We blast rap music obscenely loud.
Brian: Out of our little ultimate ears boom box, this blue thing. We just walk around with our iPhones and blast a bunch of rap music and pretend we’re not the whitest people on planet earth.
Josh: We do push-ups, we all stretch. We look like we're about to go for a run.
John: It’s look like we’re getting ready for a UFC fight.
Do you any of you have any hidden talents?
Josh: I can snap with four fingers!
John: It's not really a hidden talent, but a little secret about me and Stephen - we used to ref youth soccer! It’s a little secret thing you might know about us. But it is a talent. You try yelling at like at 40 year old man who you just gave his 8 year old a red card. Parents get so in to it. It is a talent to calm down the sideline! Especially in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Check out their song "Boomerang" below:
Photos by Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio