Get acquainted with The Ready Set

Jordan Witzigreuter, known on the music scene as The Ready Set, gave this year’s BearStock an energetic opening with his dance-able, alternative-pop music. Before the show, The Ready Set sat down with representatives from Mercer’s media outlets, including Mercer 99 and the Cluster. This is the exchange between The Ready Set and the Cluster.
Cluster: What’s coming up next for you? Any tours, any albums?
Jordan: Yeah. We’re finishing this month and a half of just college shows, playing at tons of different colleges, and then, pretty much in between every show, I’m flying back to LA, working on an album and then finishing up the entire thing in May, so that’s pretty much done. And then we have a couple other things coming up too, as far as new music releases. Not really sure for touring yet, but there’s gonna be something, probably at the end of summer, and fall and winter and all that.
C: I was wondering; you said you’ve been playing a couple colleges lately—you’ve got a college tour going on. Do you find anything different about playing for a college scene rather than just an overall concert venue, or is it basically the same?
J: I think with college shows you kind of get a lot of passerby and people who aren’t necessarily there for the show so much as they’re there to see something happen, so that’s pretty cool. I think it kind of exposes you to a lot of people who might not otherwise have ever heard of you, and that’s definitely cool. But they’re seriously all completely different things. Like, sometimes we’ll do them and there will be just a couple hundred people, and then other times there will be like 5,000 people. You never know what you’re going to get into. It’s kind of a thrill.
C: You’ve been saying “we” a lot in your interview. The Ready Set is you and the backup band that travels with you. Can you tell us a bit about who you play with—who makes up the band—and what that dynamic is like?
J: The Ready Set is pretty much just me, but when we tour it’s a band. So I’ve been able to have it be a thing where it’s just my friends who come out with me, so it’s not random-awkward-guy tryouts for a position. It keeps it really consistent, the guys I’ve had with me I’ve had for a few years now, so it feels more like a band than anything; I guess that’s why I tend to say “we.” We have a guitar player named Deryck, a drummer named Travis and a bass player named Mike, and it’s pretty much a completely different vibe than what I do in the studio. It definitely becomes more of a rock thing—I guess it shows—than pop, really, which is kind of what I always wanted to do. I never wanted to put on a pop show; I guess I wanted it to be more energetic than that.
C: How did these guys come together? You said you kind of wanted it to be friends rather than strangers.
J: I’ve had a lot of different changes and different setups with the band, but throughout touring over the past few years I’ve been able to pick people from other bands who maybe stopped touring or stopped being as active, so I could just kind of be like, ‘Hey, do you want to come on the road with me and just have a good time?’ And it kind of works out. I’ve known everyone for a really long time, so it’s just a really cool, laid-back environment.
C: I’m curious about your new album. How does it stand out from the albums you’ve put out before? Are you exploring anything new? Has there been a development in your sound?
J: Definitely. I’m really excited; I feel like it’s the first chance I’ve really had to kind of do exactly, 100 percent what I want. I’ve had a lot of time to do it. I’ve been writing it for over two years, honestly—like, ever since I put out the last album I’ve been writing—so I’ve got over 70 songs and I really only like maybe six or seven of them. Writing that many songs and just going through that process so many times kind of made me figure out exactly what I want it to be like. It’s going to be a lot less electronic and a lot—I dunno—a lot less dance-y. I’m going to do a lot more tracking, with real drums and real pianos. It’s going to be a lot more natural, and I’m excited about that.
C: I know it’s hard to say, as an artist, that you ever listen to anything recreationally, because you’re probably always getting some kind of influence and thinking about how it can apply to your music. But what do you like to just listen to?
J: I’m kind of all over the place with that. I grew up listening to metal bands, punk bands and stuff like that. I guess some of that sort of stuff, and like I was saying earlier, I like to find random new things. I like to look on iTunes before flights and download albums and listen to everything I possibly can. I feel like there are certain types of music that when I start to listen to it, I start to apply it too much to what I’m doing. If I listen to the radio, there’s always that pressure of, ‘Oh, this is what big songs are like, maybe I should try to do that,’ and I think that’s a bad way to think, really. So I just try to draw influences from everything. That’s the most relaxing thing: just getting completely out of my world of writing in this style and get into other stuff for a little bit. So pretty much everything that’s not what I’m doing is what I like to listen to.
C: Were you listening to anything today before you came here?
J: Today, what have I been listening to? Nothing today, but recently I’ve been listening to a band called the xx a lot.

Look for the upcoming album release this fall, and check out The Ready Set at thereadyset.com. For the full interview, visit the Mercer 99 YouTube page.