Mike TV of Get Set Go knows his music isn’t for everyone. “I’d be totally happy to sell 30- to 40,000 records,” he said. There must be at least that many people who could relate to the sentiments of a song like “I Hate Everyone.”
“I’m willing to go door to door to find them,” he said.
Get Set Go’s second CD, “Ordinary World” is a study in contrasts: dark lyrics, combined with incredibly fun, I-just-want-to-dance-around music. His goal, Mike said, was to have “lyrics that were so horrible that — maybe not my parents — but my grandparents would find them totally objectionable, yet so sing-songy that you can’t get them out of your head.”
Mike’s lyrics are nothing if not completely personal. He went through a difficult period that was punctuated by drug use, bad relationships and just general misery. And he wrote the double album’s 21 songs (plus 43 others) when he didn’t even think the album was going to happen, simply using the songs to express all his frustrations. This may sound like it should have produced a pretty dour album; on the contrary. “I’m very serious about the lyrics,” he said, “but then I tweak them to a degree that’s so silly.”
This is exactly what makes the songs work. You get to experience all the awful feelings without having to descend into the abyss. A song like “Die, Motherf----er, Die” is, frankly, comforting — I like my angst to have a beat. And singing lyrics like, “I’ll burn out both your eyes / And fill the sockets full of lye” is one of the more cathartic ways to express anger that I’ve run across. The song regularly runs through my head at work; meanwhile, “I Hate Everyone” has become my public-transportation theme song.
Mike says that “Suicide,” a song which basically lets the listener tongue-in-cheekily imagine his or her favorite way to die, is a fan favorite at live shows — with the crowd taking over the chorus for the band.
Lyrics that should be disturbing are just plain catchy. In the song “Murder By Millions,” Mike sings in the chorus, “I think I might set my house on fire / Hang myself from the telephone wire/ Bomb the trade center and / crash all the trains / Murder by millions / Feast on their brains / I am shamed.” It may seem strange to find a 9/11 reference on such a personal album, but Mike explains it by saying that he wanted to show how miserable he was. He felt, he said, that “I’m a piece of crap,” and he wanted to prove it by imagining the most horrible thing he could think of. The discomfort caused by the lyrics is intentional, because he’s expressing thoughts that he’s ashamed of ever having to begin with.
“I don’t want to offend anyone [with the 9/11 reference],” he said, “but I want truth.”
Mike said the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” is one of his favorite albums and that Brian Wilson’s ability to express pain and be honest is one of the things that inspires his own work.
The Beach Boys’ ability to put dark lyrics to bright melodies also reflects the spirit of Get Set Go, whose violist (and how many bands have one of these?), Eric Summer, adds an amazing texture to the songs, creating counter-pointing melodies and almost a second voice within some of the tunes. Summer, a classically trained musician, came up with his own melody lines, including the beautiful bridge on “Die, Motherf---er, Die.”
Though the band has gone through some personnel flux, they now have a complete lineup that’s ready to start touring come March. Mike hopes they make enough money to keep the band together for a while. He says music is either “a labor of love or a labor of idiots.” It’s probably a bit of both.
I did wonder, now that his drug days are behind him, what he’ll be writing about for the next record. He told me lately he’d been thinking about more mundane things: like the personal hell that is the typical Los Angeles traffic jam. Music to pound on your dashboard to.
For more information on Get Set Go, visit http://www.getsetgomusic.com/.