When a band drops an awesome new EP, they should be over the moon and able to enjoy the release and the initial fallout. But that wasn’t necessarily the case for Set The Score when they released ‘Render Me Useless’ a couple of weeks back.
The release of the Melbourne quintet’s new five-track EP (check out our review here) was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that their singer, Michael Romeo (pictured above), had left the band. Considering that it was easily the band’s best material to date, Romeo’s leaving didn’t really help matters. However, despite the departure, the band are still planning to go strong, and as bassist Josh Godwin tells us, the singer chose to leave to focus on a more stable, and more orthodox career.
“He’s actually taking up an apprenticeship. I think he’s becoming a sparkie [electrician]. Throughout his time with the band, he’s really struggled with finding a job and keeping up with the pace the band was going, so he decided it was probably best for himself and band that he stepped aside. He just couldn’t keep up with all of the money, he got dragged down a bit, and he wanted to focus on his other band, Transit Gloria, and get back to not being so broke all of the time.”
Of course, that’s a totally legitimate reason for wanting to leave, especially as being in a band can sometimes be a very uncertain prospect money-wise. Plus, having a steady job is always a big plus! Thankfully, the band is still on good terms with Romeo, which is a great outcome considering the messy fallout that takes place between some bigger bands. (*cough Blink-182 cough*).
“We’re all on good terms. I’ve personally known Michael for a very long time now. I basically graduated school with him. He basically told us it was best for him, and once the initial shock was gone, we definitely thought it was for the best too. We’re still very good friends, and we all keep in contact, so no, there is no bad blood at all.”
While, that’s all well and good, replacing such a crucial member like a lead singer is paramount now and the band is currently on the hunt. Hopefully, it won’t take too long finding a new vocalist, and Godwin says that there are a few peoplet hey have in mind.
“We’re looking at some blokes. We’re in the process of trying out a few people, we’ve had some interest through the Facebook page, and have put some Melband adverts up. We’re just going through them all and seeing how we go.”
Some may not know this, but the pop-punk outfit’s situation is actually rather similar to that of fellow Melbourne locals; the hatemongers in I, Valiance. Right after the release of that band’s latest EP, ‘The Reject of Humanity‘, vocalist Mark Poida left to join the sci-fi loving, alien-hailing dudes in Aversions Crown. While the two bands are at opposing ends of the musical spectrum (one being pop-punk, one being progressive/death metal, I shouldn’t have to say which is which) their predicaments are quite similar. As it turns out, I, Valiance are also yet to find, or at least announce, a full replacement, too.
“I do think our situation and I, Valiance’s are pretty similar. While I think Mark left for completely different reasons, Michael told us pretty close to the release of the EP. I know I, Valiance released an instrumental version of their EP because of it. For us, our mind went from releasing a new EP to the best of our ability, to thinking ahead and finding replacements and how we were going to make shows work. We had to pull out of a few shows too. And that sucks, as you’ve put all of this effort into this EP, and once it’s out you’ve gotta focus on all of these other things. Though there’s nothing you can really do about it, you just have to do what you can. Personally, I’m happy with how the EP came out, and I’m happy with the reception thus far, so you can’t really ask for much more.”
Damn right, mate! The band seems to have a really positive outlook on their situation, and their catchy but honest brand of pop-punk is all about that state of mind. In fact, the first track that Romeo appeared on was the band’s solid 2014 single, ‘…But Still So Far From Home’. That song and its music video also got a little extra boost from YouTuber Jarrod Alonge (you know, the dude behind that ‘Every Pop Punk Vocalist’ video). While Set The Score aren’t the only local act to get some sweet exposure from the US-based comedian, they definitely had no problems with it happening!
“It’s pretty crazy that this famous YouTube guy has our band on his page somewhere. He was doing this thing where he would share and promote bands last year, and we saw it, emailed him, and he said yes. Not a huge thing, we just asked him. But we have a lot to thank him for, it’s gotten a crazy amount of views and it wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near as much without him.”
In late February Set The Score rose up to the occasion and opened up Sierra’s last ever show at the OLP in Ringwood. The bill, which included Elegist, Pridelands, Ocean Grove and headliners, Storm The Sky helped pull over 300 people over the day. Jesus! That is a pretty big turnout for a local show, and at OLP, for Christ’s sake. That show in question was a definite personal favourite for the band, and for Godwin as well, for a multitude of reasons. However, if he had to pick one out, it’d probably be because of his love for Sierra.
“It was fantastic. I personally am a huge fan of Sierra. Not only to be there, but to also open up the show was just crazy. It was the biggest show we’ve played and we were just stoked to witness it. They’re all great dudes, and we wish them the best of luck. Hopefully we’ll get to see them around the scene and that the blokes aren’t all gone.”
In a slightly more extreme manner, the Mt. Gambier boys in Sierra actually broke up within the week of the release of their grand sophomore EP, ‘Reality Redefined‘. While Set The Score only lost a singer, the Sierra guys called it quits directly following a new release, but Josh thinks it’s not quite such a similar comparison. Thank god!
“Our guitarist Jon [Pisani], said that he hasn’t been able to enjoy the EP as much because we’ve been putting so much time to looking so far forward. I think Sierra was a bit different, and I feel that they thought that the band had had its time, and everybody wanted to move onto different things. And that they wanted to record and release something that was really awesome just before they left. I think it comes down to that, and I mean, it is costly, but you just take what you can really.”
Now, Josh has been in the band since 2013, and he gave us a little bit of history on the band’s early days. First off, how he used to play for “a pretty bad” metalcore band called Frontline, and when playing Freeza Battle Of The Band shows, they played alongside a band called A Fall Between. Those bands would eventually grow into Set The Score.
“They had a bass position open and I filled in for a few shows, and when Frontline broke up, they then asked me if I wanted to join. So here we are a couple years later down the track. When they were A Fall Between, they were very Paramore and All Time Low-like. There are some videos that are pretty funny floating around on the Internet, if you’re keen on some digging.”
Well, some digging we did, and here is some file footage from a Frontline, Hollows, A Fall Between, and Bear Sign 2013 house show if you’re keen.
While the band does have a few upcoming shows booked, and you can expect those to be announced very soon, things are still looking a little quiet for these Melbournians. Hopefully, these pop-punk upstarts will find a full-time replacement before those shows roll around and get back on their feet, and not slip into the background of obscurity and inaction. But in the meantime, make sure you go grab a copy of ‘Render Me Useless‘ here, and get well acquainted with it before they start back up again to invade your ears.
Trust us, you won’t regret it.
Photo credit: Two Letter Ransom