The not-so-farewell album

Maddi Loiselle, IV Leader Columnist

Brian Logan Dales is a cliché. The lead singer for pop punk outfit The Summer Set, he fled when his band hit a creative wall.

They had started writing their latest album, what was to become Stories for Monday, but it was lacking a certain spark. The songs did not have the band’s usual house party infused style. So Dales ran. Hoping to revamp his creative juices, he travelled all over the world. But he never wrote a word, and his band mates knew it. Dales eventually hid at his childhood home in Arizona and refused to speak to anyone.

After a few days of solitude, he did write a song: the first single, “Figure Me Out.” It was a therapeutic track that brought him back to writing and back to the band. The song is about a transitional stage that can be applied to just about every aspect of one’s life, with the versatile line “I believe there’s more to life than all my problems.” Though the song did pull him from a creative rut, it wasn’t enough to save the band.

In the late summer of 2015, The Summer Set broke up. Guitarist Josh Montgomery made it official when he announced he was going back to school. The remaining four (singer Dales, guitarist John Gomez, bassist Stephen Gomez, and drummer Jess Bowen) decided to finish the album as a final goodbye to their fans. They realized that the pressure they were putting upon themselves to create a record as massively successful as the previous release was what prevented them from writing songs they genuinely liked. Once they stopped focusing on gaining popularity, they wrote their best album to date. They didn’t care if the album extended past their core fan base; they were writing to give the songs justice and to lay the band to rest.

“[The name] Stories for Monday comes from the idea of Monday morning office talk after having a great weekend,” Dales explained in an interview from the February issue of Alternative Press. For them, it was their stories of their time as a band. It was their stories of growing up together.

But it still wasn’t right. Montgomery called Dales around Thanksgiving and said the disbandment was ridiculous after writing an album as good as this one. Even though he wasn’t a part of the band anymore, he was still the catalyst that brought them back together.

“Actually, I’m not surprised that’s how the conversation turned, because Josh [Montgomery] has always been the therapist of our band,” Bowen said in the same interview. “We needed him to break our band up and then come back for us to get back together.” So following his one semester stint in college, Montgomery rejoined and the band returned to the studio to finish the album with a rejuvenated spirit. The product was nothing short of amazing.

The motif of the album is returning to a normal life with stories to tell. Between tracks with classic punk mantras of growing up, the reminiscing of old friends, and living in the moment, there are also a few songs anticipating the future. The second to last song could have been the finale if this was the farewell album, because it’s about waiting for the party to end and all the wonderfully mundane things in life that will follow.

But The Summer Set didn’t quit, and “When the Party Ends (Can’t Hardly Wait)” would be too depressing of an ending, so they brought the energetic album to a close with the anthem “Wasted.” It still has the punk ideal of purely indulging in the present moment, proclaiming “youth wasn’t wasted on us” and that even if they died today, their lives meant something. It even pays homage to their previous album and its ties to Peter Pan, saying that there’s no one left at the party or in Neverland.

Without that record throwing them into the radio waves and giving them a taste of mainstream culture, they couldn’t have written Stories for Monday. Dales wouldn’t have chased the perfect song around the world only to find it in his parent’s house. They wouldn’t have broken up and they wouldn’t have gotten back together. Without their storied past, The Summer Set wouldn’t be the genre-bending, party loving mess of a band they are today.