Jordan Witzigreuter was only 20 when it all happened. Nearly overnight, the young Indiana-born musician—who had spent the better part of his teens writing an arsenal of illegally catchy, electro-pop songs—was plucked from near obscurity and thrust into the spotlight. “I started playing shows to a couple people in someone’s basement,” Witzigreuter remembers. “Then, a year and a half later, I was playing radio festivals with Maroon 5 to 10,000 people.”
It’s the ups and downs of life, love and music that inspired the singer’s latest and long-awaited album, The Bad And The Better, out May 20 on Razor & Tie. “To me, my whole life, my whole career—the good and bad—has been about taking things as they come,” waxes The Ready Set centerpiece. “Everything goes up and down like a rollercoaster. You just have to go along with it and not hang on too tight to anything. You have to let life happen and enjoy it.”
Five years have passed since the release of TRS’s debut album, I’m Alive, I’m Dreaming, which hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Heatseakers chart, thanks to the platinum-selling success of the LP’s first single, “Love Like Woe”—and a lot’s happened to Witzigreuter since. Lucky for fans, you can hear the singer’s ongoing evolution—both personally and musically—in each of the 11 songs on The Bad And The Better, produced by Ian Kirkpatrick (Neon Trees, Young The Giant, Breathe Carolina).
“When my first song, (“Love Like Woe”) did really well, people kept telling me, ‘Do that again.’ After a while, it becomes really transparent.,” says Witzigreuter. “A lot of pop albums can be bland if they’re just chasing this one sound throughout. I wanted to make sure my [album] sounded exactly like me.”
From the first guitar strums of the album’s opening song, “Higher,” which also happens to be the lead single, it’s almost impossible not to smile and dance along with Witzigreuter’s signature rapid-fire verses and synth-fueled choruses. “I wanted to make a really uplifting, inspirational song because I wrote it at a time when I was in the opposite mindset. I wrote it to almost convince myself things could get better, so it came out of this anxiety-fueled state. It’s about being able to look beyond the things in front of you that weigh you down and rise above it.”
The Ready Set has always written misfit anthems, and new song “Castaway” is a great theme song for dark horses everywhere. Featuring an appearance from rapper Jake Miller, the lyrics are driven by all the TRS fans who’ve approached him over the years to express how much the band’s music means to them. “I was really inspired by all the things I’ve heard from my fans through their notes and letters,” says Witzigreuter, who admits his fans were the ones to give him faith when he was going through his own dark times. “I wanted it to be one of those songs that lifts up the underdog a little bit and gives people hope.”
Witzigreuter is looking forward headlining this summer’s Warped Tour, which will be a great opportunity to introduce new songs off The Bad And The Better and connect with fans, both loyal listeners and recent converts. After all, the release of the band’s sophomore album marks a new chapter in the life of The Ready Set—and no one’s more excited to turn the page than Witzigreuter himself. “The new music really captures the essence of who the band is right now, which kind of translates into a new beginning for me as an artist."