Defying genre standards and blending a truly eclectic palette of influences, SETMEONFIRE are doing Australia proud. These Sci-Fi rockers might still be very much in their infancy as a band, but they’re working hard to break down musical barriers. With three EPs — 2016’s Begin along with 2017’s Signs of Life and Drifter — under their collective belt, 2019 sees the arrival of the band’s full-length debut, Lowtech. Fluidly crossing boudaries while tackling a myriad of lyrical topics, the album shows that SETMEONFIRE are a band that deserve your attention.
To celebrate the release of Lowtech, we recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vocalist/Songwriter Cameron Eyre to discuss all things SETMEONFIRE. From the band’s name and its unique styling to gun control and social media, Eyre was open as we covered a diverse range of topics all centered around the band’s impressive debut.
Cryptic Rock – First thing first: Why are we setting you on fire? (Laughs) Okay, better question: Why call yourselves SETMEONFIRE?
Cameron Eyre – (Laughs) The name comes from the track “Set Me On Fire” by Pendulum. Coming up with a unique and memorable band name is the hardest thing in the world! I ended up just skimming through some of my favorite albums to see if any of the song titles sparked any ideas.
I thought SETMEONFIRE (all caps, one word) worked well and didn’t really invoke any particular genre. Plus having the “o” directly in the middle allowed us to work in our dragonfly symbol perfectly. A lot of digital distributors don’t like the capitalization which I didn’t foresee being an issue, so that’s a bit of a pain. Plus a lot of people still refer to us as “Set Me On Fire” or “Setmeonfire,” so perhaps I should have chosen something a bit more straightforward!
Cryptic Rock – You can’t hate on a band named after a Pendulum song, but sadly even the most straightforward name will get bastardized a thousand times. That said, SETMEONFIRE has a truly unique sound and that likely stems from your eclectic influences. For those that are not aware, who are some of your musical muses and favorite bands?
Cameron Eyre – Pendulum, Deftones, Meshuggah, Linkin Park, Rammstein, Aphex Twin, Devin Townsend, Justin Timberlake, Tears For Fears, Tech N9ne, Hans Zimmer, Karnivool, Noisia, Spor, Celldweller, Jeff Buckley, Limp Bizkit – this list could be very long!
Cryptic Rock – There’s nothing wrong with having an immense and diverse list of influences, which kind of plays into the next question, actually. In 2019, people love to pigeon-hole everything into a very specific categorizations, but SETMEONFIRE defies this. Do you feel that you’re taking a risk, musically speaking, and is it a risk that more young bands should be taking?
Cameron Eyre – It’s probably risky in the sense that the path is a little more vague than sticking to a specific genre where it’s a pretty clear-cut road to get to where you want to be. All my previous projects have been very genre specific, and I found that it just became too draining and limiting. I have a lot of influences, as I’m sure most musicians do, so it was a conscious decision not to exclude any of those for the sake of sticking between a set of lines.
We did always want a marriage of Rock, Metal and Electronica as the base of what we do, but also wanted to throw anything else that inspired us into the mix. Finding our place within the local music crowd has been difficult, and we kind of feel like we’re on our own.
Cryptic Rock – Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time and being so diverse, musically, will allow you to tour with many different bands and artists. Alright, let’s talk more specifically about your debut album, Lowtech, which just came out March 1st. What has the reaction been, thus far?
Cameron Eyre – We’ve had a lot of positive feedback since the release of Lowtech – but I think it’s going to be a bit slow to catch on. Partly because there is no established crowd to market to that you would have if you stuck to a specific genre. Also, I can imagine it would be fairly polarizing.
Cryptic Rock – It’s better to have a slow upward trajectory with a record versus to blow-up immediately and almost as instantly fizzle out. Hopefully that will be the case here and music listeners will catch on. Now, for a band that are billing yourselves as Sci-Fi Rock/Futuristic Metal, why call your debut full-length “Lowtech”?
Cameron Eyre – “Lowtech” is more so referring to the human side of the music. Humans are the “lowtech” part of the technological equation. Although our sound is futuristic, I wanted to keep all the themes very much real. I think a lot of albums with a futuristic concept generally reflect that in their lyrics – usually in the form of tales of a dystopian future. I still wanted my songs to be personal and relevant and touch on real thoughts, emotions and experiences; partly for me to express how I was feeling about certain things, and partly in the hopes of connecting with others.
Cryptic Rock – It definitely does a good job of connecting with others while dabbling in a myriad of subject matters and not just presenting eleven of the same song. In fact, let’s discuss some of those songs. “Creature” is a very interesting track that loosely paints an analogy between social media and an (unhealthy) BDSM relationship. Clearly you were thinking outside the box and wanting to titillate listeners a bit, but what inspired this?
Cameron Eyre – My aim there was to present the commentary on social media in a way that was different to the many, many ways it has been presented so far. It reflects the way in which we all voluntarily participate in some of the more unhealthy elements of social media. Our insecurities drive us to present a disingenuine version of ourselves – or worse, to seek empty validation from strangers. I’ve reflected this by describing an almost predatory sexual relationship, where it’s all take and no give, yet the “victim” is a willful participant. I need to clarify that I’m not making comparisons to legitimate, consensually practiced BDSM at all. The relationship I describe is not a healthy one, it is toxic.
Cryptic Rock – That’s an important distinguishment to make, actually. Would you say that social media is a necessary evil in 2019?
Cameron Eyre — Honestly, people are quick to lay the blame on the platform but I disagree: social media is merely a reflection of its users. The problem isn’t with social media, but human nature itself. Change the platform, you’ll still get the same result. I can’t fault the technology, only its users. All the pitfalls of humanity that we see reflected on social media have always been there, and they always will be regardless of the vessel used.
Cryptic Rock – That is very true. Social media is merely a microcosm for many of the problems with humanity in 2019. Which leads us to “Patterns,” where you make some observations about gun violence in America. What inspired you to want to touch on such an important issue? To play a bit of devil’s advocate, was there ever a moment’s hesitation or the consideration should an Australian band comment on such a hot-button American issue?
Cameron Eyre – I understand that America’s gun culture is deeply ingrained in who they are, and it is not likely to ever change. But when, in the face of the latest tragedy, there is absolutely no willingness to even try to slightly change anything to prevent innocent people from being killed, then I have to ask is it worth it? When dozens of people are slaughtered in the latest mass shooting, is that an acceptable consequence to you having the right to have access to the more lethal types of weapons that are readily available just because you find joy in using them recreationally? If that collateral damage is worth it to you, then all that blood is on your hands. No human life is a worthy exchange just for you to have a toy to play with. Handguns for “protection?” Sure, whatever, go ahead. Anything more lethal than that is unnecessary though, and it’s the innocent who ultimately pay the price for it. I’m sure some people will take issue with the song, and that’s perfectly fine.
Cryptic Rock – Trust me, there are definitely Americans who are very much in favor of strict gun-control. Those that will take issue with the song are, more than likely, the ones that are the problem. But to move away from hot-button debates, let us ask you something different. In the band’s bio, you stated: “I feel like you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and provocative to get a reaction out of the listener.” What kind of a reaction are you hoping for listeners to have when hearing Lowtech?
Cameron Eyre – I think if you want to connect, then you must be honest – for better or worse. If you’re not saying anything meaningful, then why speak? I’d hope that some people can relate to some of the themes explored on the album. There is only one song on the album (“Perfect Hell”) that isn’t a direct expression of a certain emotion.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed. If you’re not being vulnerable or at the very least sincere, the music feels worthless. That said, do you have a personal favorite lyric on the album?
Cameron Eyre – I can’t say I do, nor do I have a favorite song; each one has its own place for me. “Compliance” might be my favorite song to perform live though.
Cryptic Rock – That makes a perfect segue, actually. Realizing that it’s easier said than done, do you have any plans to tour in North America in 2019?
Cameron Eyre – We are still trying to find our feet here in Australia, so should anything like that ever eventuate it wouldn’t be for a while, unfortunately. I also have a family to support, so international touring will be quite tricky for me.
Cryptic Rock – Understandable. Hopefully the band will be offered some amazing Australian tours that lead to worthwhile offers overseas. So, what else can fans expect from SETMEONFIRE in 2019?
Cameron Eyre – We have a tour in May in support of the album. We are working on a more Electronica driven EP to be released later in the year along with more videos. Also a couple of other things in the works! We write a lot of music, so we’ll be looking for avenues to purge material.
Cryptic Rock – That’s wonderful. Okay, on a similar note, every young band has goals and big dreams for themselves and their career. What are some of yours?
Cameron Eyre – As far as a career in music goes, my goal would simply be the ability to support myself financially through music alone – but that’s a huge thing to achieve these days. I’d be grateful for the opportunity to travel and play music anywhere. I’d obviously be stoked to tour with or work with any artists that I mentioned above in my influences – but also to tour with any of my friends’ bands or any bands that are making moves in general. There is always something to be learned! I love working with other artists too – there are a few that I’ll be working with on this upcoming EP we are currently writing. It’s a great way to get some fresh ideas happening and to move further outside of your comfort zone.
Cryptic Rock – Collaborations are definitely a great way to broaden your horizons and to explore new sounds. So, inevitably, there will be people reading this interview who have not yet heard SETMEONFIRE. What three tracks should they download/stream to get a good feel for who you are and what the band is about?
Cameron Eyre – From the new album: “Compliance,” “Terminal,” and “Patterns.”
Cryptic Rock – Excellent choices. Okay, last question. Beyond music, Cryptic Rock also covers films. What are some of your favorite films in the Horror, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi genres, and why are they your favorites?
Cameron Eyre – When I was a young boy I had a huge love for Sci-Fi/creature films! Alien (1979), Predator (1987), Terminator (1984). They really captured my imagination and I watched them religiously. I wanted to be a film director back then. Stargate (1994), Fire In The Sky (1993), Pumpkinhead (1989), Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), RoboCop (1987), and then, of course, The Matrix (1999).
More recently, Prometheus (2012), Interstellar (2014), and Annihilation (2018). Star Wars never quite stuck with me though, but I feel like that might be because it falls quite in line with the Fantasy genre which never interested me that much. Still need to get out and see the new Blade Runner 2049 (2017)!