Ready Set (The) Biography
Raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the twenty-year-old singer spent his early adolescence locked in his bedroom methodically analyzing stacks of CDs. By his mid-teens, he’d started writing songs and booking his own shows under the moniker The Ready Set. “My last name gives people trouble,” the singer says with a laugh. “So I kinda needed a band name even for my solo stuff.” Witzigreuter’s epic, super melodic tracks, including an early version of the explosive first single “Love Like Woe,” made their way to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who took one listen and promptly made The Ready Set the first signing to his newly-formed Decaydance Records/Sire Records joint venture.
The Ready Set’s debut album I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming, due out this summer, reflects the extent of this wunderkind’s abilities - he plays every instrument on the record, synthesizing a lifetime of influences into one remarkably diverse album. “I hate buying a twelve-song CD and having twelve of the same songs,” Witzigreuter laments. “So I made sure no one song on my album sounds like any other. There’s pop stuff, techno, rock – there’s everything.”
Witzigreuter is a bit of a workaholic, more up for a night spent dissecting the Billboard Hot 100 than shooting tequila, but with his magnetic blue eyes, distinctive sense of style, and undeniably great rock hair, the glamorous chaos of the rock life is ready for him, even if he’s not ready for it. As a student of every aspect of the music biz, Witzigreuter is taking this opportunity to practice fielding the questions his increasingly large fan base wants answered, Tiger Beat style, even if that means confessing he had no friends in high school.
What was life at home like growing up? “I spent a lot of time alone, kind of doing my own thing. I was just one of those kids, always in my room listening to music or on my computer. I was really into all kinds of art and I would just get super involved in those projects.”
When did you first get into music? “It was actually really weird. When I was about eleven I came home from school and my mom was like, ‘hey I got you drum lessons.’ And that was it. I’ve been obsessed ever since.”
What kind of stuff did you listen to growing up? “Everything. I was into skateboarding and that led me to Green Day and other punk bands. Skateboarding is totally the gateway drug to punk rock.”
Did you play any sports or do theater or anything? “It was always just music. It probably demolished my social life, actually. I think I went to like one party my entire time in high school and that was for maybe thirty minutes.”
Do you remember where you were when you wrote “Love Like Woe”? “I actually do! It was in my basement. I had that song done plus an entire album and I was just going to put it out myself but my management was like, let’s wait and see if we can get any labels interested. Next thing I know I’m in LA re-recording the song with J.R. Rotem [Rihanna, Sean Kingston]. He was really awesome, and gave the song much more of a hip hop feel, which is exactly what it needed.”
Who is the most famous person in your phone? “That question is designed to make me sound like a total jerk! I guess Pete [Wentz]?”
How did you guys connect? “I had this moment where I realized that you don’t have to be a signed band to go out and start touring and stuff. So when I graduated from high school I was like, alright, I’m not going to college, I’m just going to start touring right away. Through kids on MySpace I booked house parties and shows in people’s backyards, whatever I could get. We’d show up and get paid like fifty bucks but after a year of that I met my management and they sent my songs to Pete. He liked my ‘pop sensibility’, is how he worded it. I’m still not entirely sure what that means.”
What’s on your rider? “Lots of fruits and vegetables. I try to take very good care of myself just because the energy factor onstage is so important to me. I want our shows to feel like those small hardcore shows I went to when I was a kid where everyone would just lose their minds, but bigger and with crazy lights.”
So you’re not, like, shooting Jack Daniels and doing drugs, The Dirt style? “Uh, no. I drink water and eat oranges.”
All big stars need a franchise outside of music, so are you a sports drink guy, a sneaker guy, an open-your-own restaurant guy? “I think I’m going to go with hiking boots. Ready Set hiking boots, which are perfect because I’ve never hiked.”
What is your dream collaboration? “Prince. Definitely. Or maybe, like, a show at Madison Square Garden with Jay-Z or someone else really huge in hip-hop, the bigger the better!”
For all your female fans out there, what do you look for in a girl? “I look for somebody who is not going to be bummed out that I’m never around! No, seriously, someone who is kind of doing their own thing, not super clingy. I’m not too into party girls or anyone too wild. I need a girl who’s down to play laser tag with me.”