Matthew Stolarz was dissatisfied. A Los Angeles native, he had helped form and was playing bass in L.A. punk rock band the Briggs, but it just wasn't enough. Drawing from a wide range of influences, he had written an abundance of material that needed a proper home. He left the Briggs to make this happen, and formed the Active Set. Collaborating in the studio with the Briggs' Jason and Joey LaRocca... and Youth Of The Beast's Adrian Symcox, a six-song EP was created, the first release. Through ways and means, English export Wayne Russell found his way to the band and was thoroughly hounded until he came on board to play guitar. How lucky for the Active Set! An ad for a second guitarist was posted everywhere for months and eventually spotted by guitarist Francis Ramsden, who liked the use of the word "smart” in the ad. He fit right in, and eventually cut his hair for the band. Drummer Michael Castro became a full-fledged member after saving the band from certain peril: their original drummer was fired weeks before a string of shows at SXSW, and Castro stepped in, learned the songs and proved a worthy ally. The band moved forward from there, cracking into a wealth of new material and playing non-stop. The addition of electronic drums led naturally to the use of keys/synths, bringing the sound of the band both into the past and the future.
With a healthy nod to '80s post-punk and new wave, the Active Set offer a high-energy dose of indie, intelligent and upbeat. They love quirky, driven melodies with smart hooks. Then they like to change their minds, and change it up.
Welcome to Los Angeles, a place for movers and shakers. It's a place to really get things started. If you don't live here yet, you will.
Photo by Sterling Andrews