by Ian Tomele
Photography by Patrick Fraser | ChiTownFoto
Set Fire To Reason is a new band, although all the members come from current or past projects. Could you tell us about how you guys all met and how this project came into existence?
When I decided to form a band around the songs I had been writing over the years, I contacted some of my favorite singers in the Chicagoland area. I sent a few of my songs to a handful of singers, so that they could lay down their ideas. When I heard Rob’s “tryout” recording, not only did I like his lyrical topics, but his tone of voice and delivery were a perfect match for the style I was going for.
I’ve known Nat, from Shot Baker, for a long time. I produced/engineered a few of their albums at my studio and just got to know him really well. I then decided to write a Facebook post to let everyone know that I was looking for a bassist and drummer. After Nat responded, I sent him a few of the songs I was writing, and he liked the style I was going for. At his first tryout, he played the parts nearly identical to what I had on the demos, so he was in.
One of my friends saw my post on Facebook and quickly suggested Mike to play drums for us. Being that he played for Army of Freshman out in California for the past 7 years, I didn’t think I had ever met him. The funny thing is, when I was in Break the Silence and we were searching for drummers, I was told to go to a show to meet up with a drummer named Mike who played an Orange County kit. When I walked into the show, I saw a drummer on stage playing said drum kit, so when he was done I asked him if his name was Mike. After talking to him for a few minutes, we both realized that he was the wrong Mike I was looking for at that time. It’s now 9 years later, and the proper Mike is finally in my band.
Where did “Set Fire To Reason” come from?
As most of you know, coming up with a band name that is decent, and that everyone in the band somewhat likes, is one of the hardest things to do. We each had thrown a bunch of names out, and it seemed that the word “fire” or “ignition” kept cropping up. While we were still doing our search, Mike designed our fire logo. Soon after that, Mike suggested the name to us and we felt it really fit with the music and ideas we were going for. The part that hit home with us the most, was the meaning…
Is there a meaning behind the name?
While trying to come up with a name, we all started thinking of why we were doing this band. We also had thoughts that we’ve all played in bands for many years, and many musicians, when they get around that 30-year-old mark, start to give up on music. They do the “reasonable” thing and get a full-time job and settle their lives down. We, on the other hand, decided to abandon that reason and keep going with our musical endeavors. We felt that the name really crystallized those thoughts.
You have already had shows at Double Door, Brauerhouse opened for Michael Graves at Cobra Lounge and have the Alkaline Trio after party with Off With Their Heads on the horizon. How have fans of all your previous bands been receiving these tracks live?
At this point, I think the name is still spreading, but from all of the people who have been at the live shows, we have heard a ton of positive remarks. A compliment that I’ve heard numerous times and still sticks in my head is “It’s so cool hearing you still play a very similar style of music to your older bands, especially when a band like Rise Against has changed so much after you left.” It’s compliments like that which keep me writing the music I love.
Burritos. This is the only thing it says in your band interests. Where might one find SFTR’s favorite handheld Tex-Mex?
Garcia’s. 4749 N Western Ave, Chicago. I’ve been going to that place since 1992 when it was about a quarter of the size it is now. They still have the same amazing quality of food after all these years.
*The age old question… You are going on a cross country road trip and all you can listen to is the 5 albums in your disc changer. What would these be?
For me, I feel that I would need enough music to cover the full spectrum of emotions. I think the albums that still bring out all of those emotions are as follows:
- Guns ‘N’ Wankers – For Dancing and Listening
- Danzig – Danzig 4
- Minor Threat – Complete Discography
- Queensryche – Rage for Order
- Good Riddance – Ballads from the Revolution
How do you feel the local Chicago punk scene matches up with the rest of the country?
I don’t feel that I have the most recent experiences to comment on that question. I haven’t been touring very much in the past several years, and I feel that touring is one of the best ways to gauge the various scenes all over the country. Ask me that question again in about 2 years. What I can tell you is this: I feel that punk scene, and the entire music scene in general, is paralleling the socioeconomic crisis that’s currently going on in this country. We are losing the middle class of bands. There are so many fledgling bands out there, and good ones too, that just can’t get up to that next level. I feel that a lot of it is due to the lack of those mid-range venues. It seems that there are plenty of small underground venues to play, and much larger venues available to the popular bands, but that middle ground is so hard to reach. Another problem lies with people caring more about the monetary value of the scene instead of the scene itself. There are very few business people in the scene willing to work with smaller bands and grow together. Instead, there are areas that are rife with people who only want to work with the bigger bands, because they know that’s where the money is. One of the many reasons why I’m not a fan of the music industry, but I love the music.
Whats the best show you saw in the last year or so? what was it about the performance and/or experience that made it so memorable?
I’m going to break the rules on this one and go back a few years, as well as mention two shows. The first one was the Danzig Legacy show. I would definitely say that the performance had little to do with being high on my list. It was moreso the fact of seeing the Misfits play with Danzig up front. I guess it was of a nostalgic moment, but memorable nonetheless.
Even better than that was Pour Habit at the Abbey Pub. That was a few years back, but the energy and style they had (and still have) was phenomenal. At that time, they really breathed new life into the style that I love so much, and they did it well. I walked away from that show with a renewed energy, and I have to admit that it was one of the driving forces that pushed me to start writing and playing again.
CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH who would win? And Why Jim Carrey vs Steve Carell
I’m not a person who really cares what celebrities are doing, but I would go with Steve Carell. I think Carrey would stand there making stupid faces and Carell would take him out with a trident.
A man leaves home and turns left three times, only to return home facing two men wearing masks. Who are those two men?
I was originally thinking that the man must live on a triangular block because if he went all the way around a square block, it would be 4 left turns. Then I thought “what if he lived on a corner and his front door was facing that corner?” I still couldn’t figure out the masks, but me last thought brought me to think of a baseball diamond. Eureka! The answer is, the catcher of the other team and the home plate umpire…You bastard.
Does Set Fire to Reason have any shows and/or releases coming up? What does the future hold in store for us from you guys?
At this point we are playing May 30 with Off With Their Heads at Goose Island Wrigleyville. After that, June 21 with Authority Zero at Reggie’s
June 23 in Madison at Frequency. We are also working on new songs that we hope to record soon, and we are currently searching for record labels in order to release more music.
Set Fire To Reason is the main featured artist for the June Rock in Chicago Show: