Phoenix, Arizona's The Rebel Set channels chaos through the analogue means of how rebellious music used to be heard everywhere back in the day. Utilizing what the band described to us as, “antiquated recording techniques,” vintage organs and specialty stylistic sensibilities are the group's top secrets revitalizing the radio sound of beach blanket busting rebellion. On their just released album, How To Make a Monster from Burger Records / Silver Hornet Records, Joe, Jeff, Katey, and Brandon take on the world with a studio made creature all of their own creation.
The Rebel Set starts it off with the ghost organ crush on “Riddle Me This”, making a cannonball splash into a bright blue chlorinated pool on a warm Phoenix afternoon. “Monster” wastes no time in throwing every modern guitar lick in your direction, as the band's own Frankenstein audio monstrosity walks, while “New Rope” clears a path with the sung shouts to “make way for the new sound.” “Bubblegum” bursts with a sound like an oldie station playing yesterday's favorites through an old car radio with the big push button channel selectors. “Drop Out” keeps those haunted keys surfing as your attention remains tuned in to the vintage Ventures-style instrumental “Planet Katey” is an ode to organist and screamer Katey Trowbridge.
“Ghost Writer” continues the guitar and classic Hammond attack with the “can't get a hold of your heart” blues. “Outa My Mind” is one of those numbers where Joe Zimmerman's delivery sounds more like an indie contemporary number, as “Back In Town” brings it all back home like dragging the ocean out to their desert abode. Old style obsessions are worn freely with pride on “Old Heart”, while “Just a Rumor” finds The Rebel Set getting all hopped up over some fast charging gossip. But perhaps the biggest tidal waves is yet to come, as the band closes out How To Make a Monster with “It's Enough” where the sound of a California DIY beach party washes over The Rebel's Arizona stomping grounds. Monster was made to crash your dream beach or pool party.
The Rebel Set joins us in the following interview about the making of their new album, Phoenix and Tempe's hot spots, the appeal of vintage organs, recording equipment, and more.
The pros and cons of being indie rock rebels as The Rebel Set in Phoenix, AZ.
Some pros would be good burritos available 24 hours a day, lots of retirees resulting in thrift stores well stocked with vintage clothes, furniture and records. Cons would be how spread out everything is here and yes, it's hot.
What is the state of the Phoenix, AZ garage underground? I feel like Phoenix and many other Arizona artists aren't always given the appropriate attention.
I would agree, there are a lot of good bands that have come out of Arizona that never really get the recognition they deserve. I'd say the state of the Phoenix, AZ garage underground is strong, The Freaks Of Nature, Scorpion Vs. Tarantula and The Plainfield Butchers are all good bands right now.
It seems like you folks and The Growlers really understand the importance of wielding vintage surf organ right in your music. What is The Rebel Set recipe for creating the rip roaring riffs that in turn make monsters?
We start with the basic guitar, bass and drum parts of the song and once we've got a pretty good idea of how those go we write the organ parts to fill in whatever we feel is missing. Vintage organs have such unique sounds that you don't hear much in music anymore so they can really give an interesting feel to a song.
What was the Frankenstein-like mission when you all were creating the album How To Make a Monster? We're imagining it's a little more involved than putting together your own custom Build-A-Bear.
We only had four songs completed when we booked the recording session. That gave us a little less than two months to write an album's worth of songs which we then played millions of times until we were all sick of them. The album was recorded in two long days by our friend Ward Reeder. We used a lot of antiquated recording techniques and some equipment that wasn't exactly working correctly so it was a little Frankenstein-like.
How did you Rebels become a unified Set?
We are not unified, don't tell the local musicians union.
You all seem to love the rock sound from the modern world, what do you feel the 20th century sound had that maybe the 21st century hasn't figured out yet?
There is still a lot of really good music coming out these days, maybe even more than ever, but I think a lot of people are relying too much on technology. I am all for technology and don't advocate going back in time but if you have to rely on autotune and have to piece ten takes together to make one good one then maybe music isn't for you.
What are some of the coolest places around Phoenix, and what else and who else should we be paying attention to?
Well if you want to go to a show there is usually something good happening at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, The Icehouse Tavern is a cool bar attached to an ice skating rink, they have a lot of good shows there as well. Shady's is a pretty good bar with a decent Jukebox, Filmbar is a good place to see a movie or get a drink and Meat Market Vintage has some good vintage clothes. For records I would say Revolver or the Double Nickles collective and for food I would recommend Green. Everything there is vegan but their fake meat has won over many an omnivore. I would recommend the Calexico Burger.