Exposure: The Set Up
The Set Up - City Slag
The Set Up play their own refreshing brand of bluesy pop-rock, layered with vocal harmonies and sweet melodies. On closer inspection there is more going on here than is initially apparent. The tuneful nature of their music disguises the cynical and sometimes sordid content of their lyrics, and they have been quietly building a following playing venues around Scotland. We had a chat with them about what they’ve been up to and their plans for the future. The Set Up are: Austen George (guitar/vocals), Lewis Rosa (bass/vocals) Gus Carruthers (guitar/vocal), Murray Briggs (drums)
What made you decide to start the band?
Austen, Lewis and Gus have known each other for a really long time, were bestest mates at school, hung out together, played guitar together, sung a few tunes together and it just felt natural to start a band. Gus took up the drums almost out of necessity and the three piece was born. The blend wasn’t quite right though. The three-part harmony was there but something was missing – then, after a hiatus, we found Murray. Gus moved back to guitar and the mix was right. The vibe between us all is just ideal and we each know from playing with other people that this kind of vibe is really hard to find.
Did you set out with a particular style in mind or did you come to it organically?
Definitely organically. We have so many common threads in our musical backgrounds, and they’re strongly interwoven, but there has always been substantial areas where we differ. So we each bring something different but share a massive common ground. Plus, Austen, Lewis and Gus lived together and just played music all day, everyday, coming up with songs in a real greenhouse environment so things just blossomed and took on their own momentum.
Your sound strikes me as quite classic-rock and blues based. How does that go down with a modern audience?
There’s definitely that influence. There has to be because that was the music that brought us together to start with. But hey, different people like different things. We feel we’re trying to do something interesting and new with it or it wouldn’t be worth doing. All you can do is play what you like and try to get folk off at the shows too. We know we’ve been waiting for a band to come along that plays the kind of stuff we do, but it draws on all of our influences. I guess what we’re saying is: we like it, we like to play it and that’s all that matters. If we can get people off en route, fuckin' A.
How do you tend to write your songs? What's the creative process like for The Set Up?
We spend a hell of a lot of time playing together. Just jamming through ideas, playing bits over and over until you know whether or not there’s anything there. You maybe start with 20 or 30 ideas and after a while, a lot of playing and a few arguments, hopefully you’re left with one song you think kicks ass. Austen is the creative engine of the group but The Set Up’s songs are the result of meticulous writing and re-writing, and everyone has their input.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
In the near future, we're really looking forward to the Mill on the 29th at Cab Vol, then playing the Halloween party at the Uni, which should be rock ‘n roll too. We've got a shoe at the Caves on the 19th of December as well, so looking forward to the gigs, playing together more and more, staying hungry, staying in the hunt and getting more and more folk to listen. Chat of a wee tour perhaps too. Hell, just keep jamming and rock it out come showtime.
The Set Up play The Mill at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh on Thu 29 Oct and the Halloween Party, Teviot House, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct.