Set It Off’s Cody Carson: Our Persistence Led Us To Where We’ve Been Able To Make This Happen”

As they make their way across the UK and Europe on their long-awaited and multiply postponed tour, Set It Off takes us through how it feels to finally share so many special moments with their fans.

Photo: Alex Lyon

Set It Off are currently touring the UK and Europe, and it has been a LONG time coming.

Like, nearly four years in the making.

After first booking their tour back in 2019 during the ‘Midnight’ era and now finally being able to make it over in the ‘Elsewhere’ era, the band are selling out shows all over the place and finally being able to celebrate how far they have come with the people that are most important to them; the fans. And it’s not lost on the band how important those fans have been in them still being able to do this, with many keeping their tickets through multiple reschedules.

To chat about how that feels and how it feels to finally be able to show off their purest selves on this side of the Atlantic, we had a catch-up with Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger and Zach Dewall…

More than anything, how does it feel to be able to play these shows finally?

Cody: “Absolutely surreal. It’s sunk in the most while we are doing VIP and seeing people up close. They are handing us their tickets to sign; some say 2019 on them. Our biggest fear coming out here would be that people would have forgotten about us and about having tickets. But almost all the crowd, whenever we ask, have confirmed that they have held onto their tickets since then, and I think that speaks to the love and support our fanbase gives us. They could have moved on from us, you know? When you have so much media in front of you, you can easily change what you are into easily.”

You need to be in a position now where you can enjoy the shows for what they are rather than worrying about all of the extras bits and pieces surrounding them…

Cody: “Yeah, it’s really nice to be able to focus on that enjoyment. And to have always postponed the shows rather than cancelled them, I feel, is very indicative of who we are and who we have always been. We’ve been through hell and back in so many ways, so many trials and tribulations that it is out of control, to the point where so many other people would have hung it up by now. But we love it too much. We love what we do, and we love the connection that we are able to get with the fans because of us doing it. I do feel like we are similar to our fanbase. Our persistence has led us to where we have been able to make this happen. Our agents told us that we are the last band standing, and it’s cool to hear that. We held fast, as did the people watching us.”

Maxx: “It feels like we have broken a record. Is there any other bands who have announced a show and then four years later played that show?”

Cody: “Let’s contact Guinness and find out.”

To think back to those first dates, you were in a completely different era. How does that feel when you think back to where you were at that point of the ‘Midnight’ cycle and compare that to where you are now?

Cody: “At the end of every album cycle, it feels like we are ready for something totally different. It always feels that way, and if you are a Set It Off fan, you recognise that and have grown up in the same way. As a person, at the end of a year and a half, you might not get nearly the same as you did at the start of that period. Not in the way of forsaking all of the creative ideas along the way, but more a case of us saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do this?’ or, ‘Shall we try this?’. We’re already talking about what we want to do after this era, but the world is so open right now, and we can do absolutely anything. Having a blank canvas, you can’t leave us with that because we will run with it and have a lot of fun doing it. It always goes that way.”

The toughest moments within these postponements must have been the 2020 ones, where it just felt like there was less and less hope of anything happening. What was it like to feel your perspective changed, even if you didn’t want it to change?

Cody: “Even then, the hope that it would work out is all that kept us going, man. I saw certain artists decide to stop everything. Stop writing, stop planning, stop altogether. But just having something, there was all we needed to keep pushing. We always say that when we are struggling is when we are at our strongest. Another testament to that is how Maxx was in complete creative control of the world of ‘Elsewhere’, and that was birthed from the pandemic and the struggles. It came to be because of it.”

Maxx: “Like everyone, we had spent so much time out on the road, which was always amazing and a way to literally run away from your problems. But when you’re home and alone and able to reflect upon all of these things. It was scary and frustrating at times, but it ended up becoming a good thing because we were able to get the work down. I know that one of my favourite things about touring is that you can literally see the people in front of you saying, ‘I like your music’ and letting you know you’re doing a good job. But taking that away, there was no way then to tell. So whilst rescheduling those dates, we clarified that you could refund your tickets, but people didn’t. And that was what I needed, so I knew that people still cared. That was everything.”

When you’re at a place where everything you worked for is balanced on a knife edge, and you start to question whether it was all worth it, you start to notice the people who believe in you even if you don’t. And that only comes from the building of a sustained support network that has been created because of your band. That’s a lot to take in, though…

Cody: “We end up externalising the voices that always stayed internal to us. We have always been a band that finds their way through whatever is in front of us. If we can’t meet each other in person, we will get on Zoom and write the best songs we can from there. Having that chip on our shoulders of always finding a way has helped us bounce back so many times. Compounding that with the belief that people have in us feels incredible. Whenever we take on a challenge, we know it will help us grow.”

And for that challenge to then materialise into the three of you being the most yourselves you have probably ever been, that’s something that you can’t make up. It comes from hard work and perseverance….

Zach: “Yeah, I have yellow hair!”

Maxx: “It’s been so good and cathartic because of that. The whole thing has been about this journey to find yourself through healing and learning to overcome these things, and accepting the world for how it is. And the world really has changed so much.”

Cody: “A journey to discovering yourself never stops. It’s ongoing.”

Maxx: “Absolutely, and because of that, there are a whole set of new challenges now on top of the ones we overcame. We have been talking about all of this, all the things we have liked and didn’t like about this chapter. About the things we are facing now and taking all of the good and bad feelings as fuel to light another fire under our asses and make the best art we possibly can.”

Cody: “And also, in terms of Maxx sharing these things with us, that comes down to this being a brotherhood. These are my brothers, and we have never felt more comfortable with a group of people in our lives.”

Zach: “Even being able to sit and play Grand Theft Auto until we were laughing so much that we were all crying until four in the morning.”

Cody: “And then that feeling cultivates into what we share with our fanbase. I share what we are feeling through the songs and then hope that it makes them feel okay with what they are going through. We want people to feel like they are talking with close friends when they communicate and listen to us. That they have somebody to lean on because we all need that after what we have all gone through. This is the most cathartic experience you could ask for, finally being able to share that feeling live with these people who mean the most. We were talking the other day about going to Warper Tour together back in the day, standing front row, looking up, watching My Chemical Romance, and screaming every lyric to get through it all. And now people are doing that to us, and we know just how important it is.”

How do you feel about where things are heading after this tour is done, then?

Cody: “We have already discussed that the end of this tour is the closing of this chapter. The end of this era. We will have December off to enjoy a break, and then in January, we are right back at it again. We’re getting ready for what is next, and we can’t wait to make it happen. That’s the fun thing about all of this. It’s neverending and always exciting. There’s always a worry when you come up with something that you don’t know how you are going to top it. But the thing is that we know, and we can’t wait to do it. We know there is some stuff there that the Set It Off fans are going to lose their shit over. And we are already planning when we are coming back over as well.”

Seeing how much people have understood and embraced ‘Elsewhere’ must feel amazing. You can see it in their make-up, outfits and hair colour choices, and how they react to the songs. It boils down to people feeling they don’t have to hold back on any part of who they are. So even though an era ends, the things it represents live on forever…

Cody: “And we will never take it for granted. Seeing people fully buy-in is one thing, but it is more a reflection of them fully letting go and being exactly who they are. And that’s the coolest thing to see.”

Maxx: “That’s the heart of the record. Being yourself. Wearing the clothes you want to wear not because someone else will think it is cool but because you think it’s cool. Finding yourself in all of this.”

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