SETYØURSAILS – A Personal NightfallSunday, 23rd January 2022
A fairly new act from Germany, SETYØURSAILS manages to make some waves because of their combination of vicious metal energy with more melodic injections that can lean into some pop flavors. It’s a delicate balance, but they quickly establish that they are able to weave around incredibly catchy choruses and energetic, metalcore-ish riffing as their second album, Nightfall (out now on Napalm Records) opens. We spoke with vocalist Jules Mitch about the album, signing with Napalm, their cover of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow,” and more!
Dead Rhetoric: Nightfall is your second album. Were there any things you wanted to improve or do differently from your first album?
Jules Mitch: I would say that our first record was just demos and we wanted to release it to get booked for shows. With Nightfall, we really took our time to write the songs and produce them, and really think about where we wanted them to go. Enough was something that we are not really proud of, to be honest. It was really just demos to put out there. We definitely wanted to make this album different, and we did.
Dead Rhetoric: I assume that you are pretty proud of this one…
Mitch: Yeah, really. I feel like it’s not something negative to be proud of your own work, especially when it is such a personal thing. The lyrics are very personal and about myself – my struggle with depression and things like that. To actually be able to sit down and write it out and listen to your own words and face your own problems – I would say I’m definitely very proud of the entire album. But I’m especially proud of the lyrics.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a song or two that stands out to you from the lyrical perspective?
Mitch: “Secrets.” I would say that is the most personal song I have ever written. It’s about my relationship with my mother, who is addicted to alcohol. It’s pretty much about me growing up in that environment and not really knowing what’s going on. You don’t really realize it when you are a child growing up with a parent who is alcohol-addicted. In the past, I wrote a lot of songs about that topic and they were always very aggressive and very judging. There was a lot of anger. Now I turned 30 and I have a different perspective and I managed to transform these lyrics into something more forgiving and less judgmental. So I would say that it is also the most important song to me, lyrically.
Dead Rhetoric: That was actually one of my favorite songs on the album. I like how when you do softer songs like that, it never goes full ballad. There’s still a heavier side to it.
Mitch: The thing was – we purposely never sat down and said, “We want to sound like this or that.” We wanted the songs to sound like whatever. There are songs on the record that were written completely instrumentally by me, and there are some that were completely written by Andre [Alves], our guitar player, and then there are songs that we both wrote together. We were actually very scared that the songs wouldn’t fit as a whole, so that the album would sound like an album, because our writing styles are so different. I would say that I have a more poppy style to write songs with, and Andre is like the metal guy. I feel like it is very diverse. There are a lot of different sounds to it. At the end of the day, they all fit together. That’s also what depression is – you don’t always feel completely sad or completely angry. There are different feelings to it, and that’s how the album sounds at the end of the day.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned this a bit now, but with the number of different influences on the album was there anything specific other than splitting the writing, to make sure everything is cohesive even within a song?
Mitch: I would say that actually happened in the studio. We worked with two different producers and they listened to every single song. They made suggestions about what parts would fit to the style of the songs to make some changes. So when it came to producing the songs and adding the details, we did a lot of work and there were other people involved. But no, I wouldn’t say that we sat down to change things on purpose because we wanted things to fit together. It came together naturally, especially the choruses. Andre said himself that he’s very bad at writing choruses – which was fine of course, if you are not a singer, how are you supposed to know what it will sound like? So I wrote all of the choruses melodically and we tried to add them together. So that’s why it is a common pattern in our songs that we have very aggressive verses and then it opens up to more pop-ish choruses.
Dead Rhetoric: I think that’s kind of cool. Those contrasting pieces give more to bounce off of. It brings out the heaviness and melodies.
Mitch: Definitely. That’s where our style comes from, pretty much. It came naturally – just sat down and passed the guitar to each other, or I would start playing piano or something, and it was the most natural and best way to write songs. For some reason, that’s our style – to go very heavy in the verses and then open up the choruses. I like it, I think it’s a cool mixture.
Dead Rhetoric: So based on what you said about the lyrics, do you feel that the message being conveyed is just as important as the music itself?
Mitch: For me, personally, definitely. There were songs on the record, like I mentioned, like “Secrets.” I was very scared to release it. I was struggling with it. The guys told me that we didn’t have to release it if I didn’t want to. But I wanted to have it for my healing process, and it’s good to throw it out there.
I took most of my strength from songs that were written so personally – it felt like someone else was going through the same shit that I was going through so I think that’s the strongest thing we can do as musicians. We need to be as honest as we can be and share that with people. I’m pretty sure that some people can relate to it, or grew up in a similar environment like that. That’s my wish – that at least one person out there can relate to it, who feels hurt and who feel like they are not alone. There are other people and it’s okay to talk it out and get help. For me, personally, I don’t know how the guys feel about it, but I feel like the lyrics are the most important thing on the record. It’s the soul of the record I would say.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s a more unusual cover of “Shallow” on the record. What made you pick that one out of all the possibilities?
Mitch: I just got a call from one of our managers and he was totally freaking out. He said he had this idea after hearing the song and told me to make a cover of it. I was like, “Whoa, are you talking about the Lady Gaga song?” He said that we could put it into our style and it would be great. I actually listened to the song about 2,000 times and tried to imagine it. At some point, I said, ‘fuck it, why not?’ We asked our producer to write in our style, so we got back into the studio and we had so much fun recording it. We respect every musician for whatever genre they are playing and making. We love mixing genres, so why not? It’s a great song, and when Mike from No Bragging Rights joined, I knew that was going to be it. We think it’s funny that we took a Lady Gaga song at the end of the day, but it turned out pretty cool.
Dead Rhetoric: It flows pretty well too. I’m sure there will be a few people who don’t take a look and won’t even realize it’s a cover.
Mitch: [Laughs] Yeah, actually I showed the record to my best friend, and he didn’t even realize it. He said he felt like he kind of knew the song, and that he had heard it before but what was it. I told him it was a Lady Gaga cover and he was surprised. We love that. A little fun is important. it’s a very dark record, so I think it’s great that there is a bit of a fun part to it at the end.
Dead Rhetoric: You had a guest vocalist for that song, and you had a few others as well. How did you get all of these people involved in the album?
Mitch: Honestly, we are a very small band, so it would be helpful to draw attention to us by having a few guests. We sat down with management and picked out the singles and Andy [Dorner] from Caliban as well as Rudi [Schwarzer] from Annisokay are in the same management as we are. So while we were having the meeting, I said that I would really like to work with Andy. So one of our managers sent him a message. He listened to the song and loved it, so he was in. It was the same thing with Rudi. We wanted to work with these guys. We actually were in the studio with Christoph from Annisokay – he is the guitarist and lead singer. So then we shot the video and we are really proud. These are some very awesome people.
Dead Rhetoric: What steered you in the direction of Napalm Records for this album?
Mitch: Actually, the record was done about a half-year before we signed with them. We were searching for a label after we finished it because we wanted a team around us to help us grow. Once management sent it to different labels, we got some responses, and once Napalm dropped, we were like, “What is going on?” Jinjer is also on Napalm Records, and they are one of Andre’s favorite bands. He went to a concert about a month before we got the contract and he was freaking out. He was like, “I just went to one of my favorite band’s concerts and they are on the same label!” So of course we went with Napalm.
We are so really happy that we signed with them. They are insane. They are working very hard and they are such beautiful people. We chose who we work with on a very personal level. It’s our baby, our music. We want to work with people who are just as passionate about it as we are. Napalm definitely is, if not even more passionate than we are. So we are really happy with them.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s something in the world that you would like to see changed or improved at the moment?
Mitch: Hate. As you know, we are from Germany. I can tell you that there are a lot of idiots out there, especially in Germany. We are so sick and tired of that bullshit. It could be so simple. Just accept everyone the way they are and share some positivity and understanding. That’s it! It’s pretty simple. But for some reason, people hate you for everything you are. That’s something I would wish to change, because it’s so unnecessary. We could all have such simple and beautiful living. But there are so many idiots out there. If we had some magic skills, we would definitely do that and then every one would just be lovely people. And make COVID go away [laughs]. It’s really freaking us out. So share some love and respect, that’s the best we can do. There’s always going to be idiots out there, but at least you can change your own behavior. I would wish that a lot of people would do that for themselves.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s not just Germany, there’s plenty over here too [laughs].
Mitch: I feel like due to the media that they are growing in numbers, personally, but I believe the dumbest people are the loudest. I believe that there are a lot of awesome people who stand against it, also in Germany, but the stupid people who are out there shouting in the streets instead of thinking. It is what it is.
Dead Rhetoric: To wrap up, what are your plans for this year?
Mitch: We have a tour in March, currently. We don’t know if it will change by then. We have a lot of plans and festivals. We are actually starting to write our next record next week. We have a songwriting week planned. There will probably be another music video or two and stuff like that. Hopefully we can write more music that touches our hearts. That’s my wish for this year.