Settle, Settle, Settle … what a deceiving name for this group! I hardly know where to begin describing the eclectic style, immense dedication, and the overall intensity that these guys bring to their work. With a sound that’s a little bit retro, a little bit in-your-face, and a whole lot of fun, these guys will definitely give you something to get up and dance to. There’s a bouncy sort of energy that you won’t be able to resist. Go ahead and try. I dare you.
If you’re looking for a cookie-cutter band, then keep on looking sweeties, ‘cause Settle isn’t it. I asked the guys how they would describe their sound.
“We’ve been calling our music Dance Punk Explosion for a while now. That seems to fit nicely,” was Mike’s response. Nick chimed in with a similar answer, adding, “I prefer calling the genre: Awesome.” I don’t think I could say it much better myself. So yes Nick, awesome … simply awesome.
The boys (and that would be Mike Pizarro, Nick Rose, Willie Rose, and Dave Goletz) recently played a show at Kate’s Kafe in Phillipsburg, NJ. I was fortunate enough to be able to check them out live. Believe me when I say that nothing is lost in their live performances. What you hear is what you get, and the energy is completely contagious. As a matter of fact, Nick was so animated while playing that I almost feared for his safety!
While watching the guys at Kate’s, I paid careful attention to the audience. The funny thing was, they all looked like a bunch of zombies – but in a good way. I couldn’t see a single person not mesmerized by Settle’s performance. Everybody crowded around, and they were simply glued there. Their eyes rarely moved. Nobody was still. I bet if the guys told them to jump off a building, they’d all go without a second thought. The guys were nothing short of captivating, and their ability to command an audience astonished me.
I had the opportunity to speak with Settle’s manager, Tom Rose, while I was at the show. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions afterwards in an e-mail interview.
AX – Please give some background on the band. (Who originally had the idea? When did each member join? How did they come up with the name? When was this line-up finalized? … anything else the guys feel is relevant to the band’s history that they’d like included.)
Tom – History – Settle formerly started in the summer of 1998 as The Front. Band members consisted of Nick Rose his brother Willie, Jake Heck, Evan Hunter and Matt Smith. The idea for this collaboration came about through the high school friendship between Nick and Matt. No one is exactly sure where the name “The Front” came from, but the general feeling was that it was a name that wouldn’t necessarily imply a specific sound or style of music. The group was very diverse at that time, drawing influences from many genres and styles, so they felt the name should reflect this.
In the fall of 2001 things were beginning to get serious and band members had to make many personal commitment decisions. As a result there were lineup changes. By the end of their first college semester year the core of the group consisted of Nick, Willie, Matt and Mike Pizarro who had joined the band about a year earlier as the groups bassist. It was about that time that a recommendation was made to change the band’s name in order to avoid conflicts with an existing band from Los Angeles, CA.
After debate, the group decided to go with the name “Settle” for about the same reasons they originally had decided on using “The Front”. However in order to secure “Settle” the band registered the name as a trademark. About a year later the name “Settle” legally became theirs.
In the early summer of 2003, Matt Smith (then front man), decided to abruptly leave the band by sending the group’s manager notice in an email message. “Although it’s hard when a good friend of more than five years walks out on you, the core talent of Settle remains in place and we will move forward,” said Nick. No prior indication or reason for this decision was ever given. Group members rarely come in contact with Matt these days.
After receiving Matt’s resignation the group went into total shock for about 2 hours, after which, they started rehearsing for a gig on the following weekend. They also decided to continue as a threesome and Mike took over the front man position. This came as no surprise. Mike had been working all along with a well-known industry vocal coach, Mark Baxter in New York City, for about a year, and was more than qualified.
After six months as a trio Nick decided that the addition of a second guitar was needed. This would enable the band to experiment with some new ideas they had been working on. John Cornelius, a former member of the Christian band Remnant, joined Settle in December of 2003. John is a great guitarist. However, after a difficult decision, he was let go due to conflicts concerning creative direction.
In November of 2004 Dave Goletz joined Settle on guitar. Dave is a schoolmate of Willie’s at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts in Bethlehem.
Settle is managed by Tom Rose and is represented by Ron Bienstock of Bienstock & Michael, an entertainment law firm located in New York City.
AX – Where have the guys played?
Tom – It’s easy to say that the larger shows like MusikFest, in Bethlehem, and festivals like Millennium, in Harrisburg, are great. However the smaller, more intimate shows at venues like Kate’s in Phillipsburg, NJ or the Globe in Bethlehem are often the most rewarding. Places like these are where we really get to perform for our fans close up – where the energy thrives.
AX – What inspires the guys to do what they do? Why are they musicians?
Mike – “We play music first and foremost because we love it. We love playing live and writing songs. But what really keeps us going is the feedback that we get from people about our music. There’s nothing better then having someone enjoy and relate to what you do. We are most definitely looking to make a career out of playing music.”
AX – What, if anything, do they want their fans to take out of their music? Is there a message or feeling they’re trying to convey?
Nick – “I just want everyone to have fun. You can sing along, dance, enjoy our show and just listen to the music. Although there are messages in some of our songs, what the fans do with that is up to them. It’s really about having a good time that hopefully fans will take home with them.”
AX – Where does the band see itself in the short-term, over the next 1-3 years?
Tom – Well…in the short term of 1-3 years, as you put it, we’ll be in our 10th year of being together as a group. Over the span of that time we’ve had to make some really hard decisions.
Mike dropped out of Pitt after his first semester with a 4.0 grade point average, and Nick decided to not accept going to the prestigious Berkley College of Music following his graduation from high school. Both Mike and Nick were totally focused on Settle and making a success of the band.
Mike is now a full time student a Penn State Lehigh Valley, and Nick attends Northampton Community College. They both also hold down part time jobs while meeting with band mates 5 nights a week for rehearsals. In addition Nick also is a contributing featured writer for Pulse Weekly where he has been doing CD reviews for a little over a year now.
Dave and Willie both attend the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts in Bethlehem PA. Even though they are only in their junior year, the school can be extremely flexible with regard to their professional schedules. “If it’s time for us to go, we go” says Willie. “I realize the importance of school and I hope to continue my education throughout my life regardless of where I end up. If an opportunity comes our way I’m completely prepared to go with it. We may only get one chance and we’re all going to take it when we do.”
Want to know the meaning for the word commitment? Willie is a full time straight “A” honors student at LVPA, works park time busing tables at a local restaurant, rehearses with the band 5 nights a week, takes private drum lessons with Joe Bergamini in central New Jersey (a 45 minute commute in each direction), plays out at least 1 night a week and often doesn’t get home from gigs on school nights until well after 1:00 or 2:00am. Willie has rarely missed a day of school in over 5 years. Willie also practices his drums 3-5 hours daily.
Willie’s schedule is not dissimilar from that of any other member of Settle. “We’re tight because we work hard at it and that’s the way it’s been for more than 7 years. We do it because we love it and we want it to sound as good as we can make it. We demand a lot from each other to make that happen.” says Nick.
AX – Where does the band hope to be in the long-term?
Tom – From time to time Settle has been offered label deals at various levels, just recently being solicited by a major label from Los Angeles. Although this was an amazing compliment, very few artists ever get past the initial stages so the band doesn’t view this with high expectations.
Although Settle has been playing around for some time now they are still considered young, which can be very attractive to a label. However, consideration for what’s best for the band should remain as a priority and landing an “incubator deal” might provide the help and time to hone the band’s material and performance.
So far, the following steps were taken to work towards Settle’s goals:
· Created a parent corporation (Really Really Good, Inc.)
· Trademarked the name Settle ®
· Opened a corporate business account with a local bank
· Acquired the legal representation of Bienstock & Michael in NYC
· Secured the regular help of a vocal coach (Mark Baxter NYC)
· Secured management
· Created a web presents that is maintained daily.
· Recorded and distributed samples
· Filed for performance and publishing copyright protection for all original compositions
In addition, the band members themselves meet five nights a week to rehearse and work on new and old material. They are also prolific writers creating an average of 3-5 new songs each week lyrically and 1-2 complete instrumental compositions each week.
Example of being at the right place at the right time? Maybe…
Nearly five years ago, we played a venue in Allentown known as Casey’s Nightclub. They held open mic’s there every Tuesday night and the bands that showed up first would have preference for the more popular early slots. On one of these nights, Settle got their late, and as a result could only secure the headline position. A position that by the way, was the worst slot available, going on last sometimes not until 1:00am or so.
Well, Settle went on at about 1:15am and played to what they thought were just the two bartenders and one drunk waiting for someone to pick him up and the cleaning guy. There was no one else in the room, so we thought…
About 4 months later we got a call from the owner of a mid-level indie label located in Toronto, Canada wanting to sign our band. He said his A&R guy had seen us at Casey’s on the night mentioned above and he wanted to sign the band. The offer was passed along to the band’s attorney, who after a brief review suggested that we not sign. We didn’t, a very good decision as we later found out.
Although nothing transpired from this, the moral is that you simply never know where, when or how an opportunity will come.
Another example …
The most recent example that came from a major label that was a result of an A&R intern scanning MP3’s on a popular web site. The funny thing is, there was nothing there to entice anyone into thinking there was anything special about Settle. The band’s downloads and listen-to’s were very modest in comparison to more popular groups on the site. When I asked about this, the A&R representative said he was simply very impressed with Settle’s unique sound and style of music. He dug what they were doing. Again the moral is simple, you just never know.
Although the band may never know just who’s listening, one thing is for sure: you’ll not be disappointed if you take the time to check them out. Trust me, they’re worth it! And hey! I’ll make it easy for you. Just click this pretty little link right HERE.
Settle was kind enough to kick off the UNICEF Tsunami Benefit Show for us on February 18th, at Kate’s Kafe. It was my complete pleasure to be able to see them perform live for a second time.
You’ll be able to see video clips of Settle’s performance at the show in the upcoming “Media” section of AX, set to debut in April!
Be sure to check these guys out for a live show that shouldn’t be missed! Their show list for March can be found in the AX event calendar, or by heading over to their website at www.settlemusic.net.