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Jordan Witzigreuter of The Ready Set Talks New Album, Tour + Hip-Hop Influences

The Ready Set
Roberto Chamorro

When PopCrush last caught up with Jordan Witzigreuter of the Ready Set, he was in the middle of a summer on the Warped Tour, had just shot the video for the catchy single ‘Young Forever,’ and was preparing to release the ‘Feel Good Now’ EP.

Now, the 22-year-old is kicking off the Blackout Forever Tour, which he co-headlines with Breathe Carolina, and he’s finishing up his next album, which expands on his electro-pop sound and features production work by Lady Gaga producer RedOne, among others.

Coming soon, Jordan will be providing PopCrush readers with a behind the scenes look at life on the road. In the meantime, as he prepared to take the stage for the first concert of the tour, Jordan called PopCrush to talk about the new Ready Set single, the direction of his upcoming album, and his favorite hip-hop artists.

How excited are you to be back on the road?
Very. We actually just got done with a little over a month overseas in the Philippines, Australia and South America, so it’s fun to be back in the U.S. It’s the first tour of the year for us over here.

Have you met your tour-mates Breathe Carolina before?
Yeah, I played a few shows with them. We hung out a little bit when I was in L.A. working on an album and they were out there too. We were actually staying in the same apartment complex. They’re awesome.

Have you kicked your addiction to overpacking on the road?
Actually, yeah. I think I’ve gotten better. I made a conscious effort to pack a lot less this time, so I feel good. I feel a lot more lightweight these days.

Is your new album finished?
Not yet. It’s close, I think. I have songs that I did in January to pick from, and then I’m gonna try to do a little bit more and kinda hash it out and make sure it’s the exact perfect album that I want to put out.

How is the new material different from your previous work?
It’s shaping up to be a little bit better. It still sounds like what I do, but I think the songs are a little more unique. It’s hard to describe [laughs]. It’s maybe less straightforward electronic stuff, and a little bit cooler sort of sounds that I’ve been working with. I don’t want it to sound exactly like the rest of the stuff that’s on the radio. Electronic dance stuff is huge right now, so I’m trying to make songs that stand out from that and still have a unique, personal thing about them.

You said in an interview a few months ago that you might make things a little less electronic on this album. Is that how it’s turning out?
A little bit. The problem is whenever I say I want to do something, for some reason I end up doing the complete opposite. So it’s pretty electronic, but there’s all sorts of sounds. I want it to have its own thing. I want it to stand out from anything else that’s out there.

I feel like my method for writing songs is very much like … They’re almost written as rock songs first. Most of the songs are written with piano, just chords and vocals. I like to build up an electronic sound, a pop song around something like that, rather than just having a track and then writing some random thing over it.

Where’s the strangest place a song idea has come to you?
I get a lot of ideas in the shower, I don’t know why. That’s a pretty classic spot. There, and sometimes when I’m running — I get a lot of weird ideas when I’m running.

Did you collaborate with anyone on this record?
In terms of artists, we’re trying to find a couple of people to do some collaborative things for the album, but haven’t really settled on anyone yet. As far as producers go, a lot [are] friends of ours — it was really awesome. I did some songs with Andrew Goldstein. I did stuff with Ian Kirkpatrick, who I did all of ‘Feel Good Now’ with. And I did stuff with RedOne, who worked with Lady Gaga. So a lot of awesome producers.

Can you tell us about the new single that’s coming?
It’s called ‘Give Me Your Hand’ and it’s fun, it’s upbeat. It’s a lot faster than anything else I’ve put out before. It’s a dance song without sounding too much like a dance song, I think. That was the line I wanted to ride. That’s the challenge.

Watch the Ready Set Perform ‘Give Me Your Hand’ Live for the First Time

What sorts of lyrical themes are you delving into on the new album?
Everything… Part of it’s just love stories. I’ve always had a soft spot for almost motivational kind of things, like cool stories, telling people that things get better. I like that really uplifting sort of feeling with music. I did it a lot on the first album and a little bit on ‘Feel Good Now.’ I always make up scenarios in my head, like different things I’ve seen happen with my friends and just in general, and try to think about what people can relate to and make it interesting, see how unique of a story I can come up with from a simple idea.

How much do you focus on sales and chart success?
I actually don’t think about sales too much – I just kind of let that happen. I just want as many people as possible to hear it. That’s always the goal. I want people to hear the songs and come out to shows, and get to play bigger places, and do cooler things and get more opportunities to see the world and play to bigger crowds. I would like for the album to sell a lot, but if people are gonna download it online and they’ll hear it, that’s fine with me.

We enjoyed your cover of Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Roll Up’ for ‘Punk Goes Pop’ Vol. 4. What made you pick that song?
I usually do ‘Punk Goes Pop’ every year, cause it’s kind of a fun, easy thing to do. I’ve always enjoyed covering hip-hop songs. There’s always cool rhythmic patterns to vocals. I like putting melodies to things that don’t have melodies. That’s kinda why I picked that. I covered that last year, and ‘Airplanes’ by B.o.B before that. I have a feeling if I do it again, it’ll probably be another hip-hop song [laughs].

Which hip-hop artists do you listen to?
I like Drake a lot. It’s not really hip-hop, but I like the Weeknd. I’ve been very into Childish Gambino a lot as of recently. And Kanye, always.

You got nominated by PETA for Most Animal-Friendly Band. What animal-rights issues do you feel strongly about?
I really like all the stuff they’ve done in terms of the whole fur thing, and the circus stuff that they did — talking about animal abuses and everything. The interesting thing about getting nominated for that is I’m not a vegetarian, but it’s cool that they still ended up selecting me. There’s certain causes that I want to steer clear of, but the fur and the circus stuff are definitely the two that I’m behind.

When you’re not touring, what is your life like these days? Are you still living in Indiana?
Yeah, I’m home maybe a little over a month a year, if even that. If I’m not touring, I’m usually out in L.A. writing or something. If I have time off during the year, I try to do absolutely nothing, just try to relax.

Finally, what’s the most memorable show you’ve played so far?
We played the Target Center in Minneapolis in 2010. That was probably my favorite show that we’ve ever played. It was one of our biggest ones. And some of the shows we did overseas, like in Brazil. It was pretty memorable too, just because every person was so excited to be there because they get a lot less live music from other places — so they appreciate it so much more.

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