Set It Off plan holiday charity show benefitting Tarpon Springs music program
When you’re rock stars who’ve spent the past year playing to huge crowds around the globe, no one expects you to invite your former high school band teachers to your holiday party.
Set It Off, however, wouldn’t have it any other way.
On Saturday, the nationally signed, North Pinellas-based pop-punk band will throw a benefit concert for the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts, the prestigious music academy where singer Cody Carson and guitarist Dan Clermont met. All of the proceeds from Saturday’s show will go toward helping students pay fees, the band cover travel costs and other expenses.
“That marching band program really shaped who we are as people,” Carson said. “Because of that band, we were able to play in Carnegie Hall. We were able to play the Kennedy Center.”
“I can say that if we didn’t do all those things that we did, I would have the worst performance anxiety,” added Clermont. “We wouldn’t be the kind of band we are.”
Since forming in 2008, Set It Off has become one of Tampa Bay’s biggest musical exports, signing with Equal Vision Records (Say Anything, Saves the Day), playing multiple stretches on the Warped Tour (including many dates on this summer’s main stage this summer) and touring around the world. This year, they’ve toured All Time Low in Canada and Mallory Knox in the United Kingdom, and they recently returned from an L.A. writing session for their third album, which they hope to release next summer.
And yet Carson and Clermont remain, at their core, unabashed band geeks. Over lunch at Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor, they gush over the Conservatory’s role in their music development, and debate the merits of their respective instruments — clarinet for Carson, trumpet for Carson. (They’ve stuck with those instruments, too, performing them on Set It Off albums and even bringing them on tour, just for fun. “I just gave a clarinet lesson yesterday,” Carson said.)
Carson and Clermont, both 26, credit their alma mater for a lot of Set It Off’s success.
“They teach you about setting a standard for excellence, raising the bar, setting the bar high,” Carson said. “I think that’s what Set It Off does, as far as how we see our band. We want to be the band, if we’re playing a show or a tour, that you walk away talking about. We also take very rigorous, tedious rehearsal techniques and apply them to rock, which helps us in our live show as well.”
It wasn’t until Set It Off’s sonically ambitious 2012 album Cinematics that they decided to let their geek flags fly in public.
“There’s s much orchestral elements, and kids were like, ‘Oh my god, you’re in band? I’m in band!’” Carson said. “Band kids, we’re not cool on paper. So to see a band like us come from a background of these nerdy kids, it kind of gives them a little bit of, ‘See? I’m not that uncool.’”
Added Clermont: “These band kids who are worried about being nerdy, worried about not fitting into a role, we can show them that you can still be yourself and advance and be successful.”
At Saturday’s show, Carson is toying with the idea of writing out some horn parts for current Tarpon Springs students, or possibly bringing some marching band-themed merchandise. “I’m trying to see if I can get our senior band photos,” he said. “We’ll sign them and sell them for $5, and that money goes to the band.”
At the very least, he said, it’ll be nice to do something for the teachers who got him where he is today.
“There’s so many bands that love our band because we’re band geeks,” he said. “So much of our lives has come from that band.”
Set It Off performs with Infinity On High and UNRB at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Tickets are $12-$17. VIP upgrades, $35, include access to a meet-and-greet, acoustic performance and pizza party with the band. All proceeds benefit the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts. Click here for more info.
-- Jay Cridlin