With their latest album, ‘Why Don’t We’ looks to go beyond the confines of being the quintessential boy band
When LA-based band Why Don’t We announced a hiatus in January, it was meant to last no longer than two months. The schedule for their down-time was simple: log off social media, focus all energy on writing music and producing a new album, and then get back on the road. But, the pandemic put a wrench in their plans. The Gen Z sensation, consisting of Daniel Seavey, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery, Zach Herron and Jonah Marais, was forced into isolation for almost nine months.
Yet, instead of letting the prolonged break get their spirits down, the pop musicians — who have nagged multiple nominations and won the title of the Best New Artist across various Awards ceremonies since their debut in 2016 and are touted by teenyboppers to be America’s answer to One Direction — decided to further work on their musicality and sound, and create an album with a little more of a rock edge.
The experiment paid off. Why Don’t We’s first single, Fallin’ from their upcoming album The Good
Times and The Bad Ones, made it to Billboard’s Top 100, while their second song, Lotus Inn that premiered earlier this week clocked over one million views in less than 24 hours.
We caught up with the 21-year-old Daniel Seavey, whose unique talents include playing over 20 instruments by ear, and the band’s youngest member, Zach Herron (19) following their performance at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2020 (which streamed live on Voot Select and VH1 India). The two got chatting about how the pandemic helped them find their sound, why they prefer being called a ‘man’ band and the quirkiest skill they have picked up in the last few of months. Excerpts:
At the beginning of 2020, you announced that the band would be taking the year off to write your new album; the rest of the year turned out quite unexpectedly. Did this in any way alter the path the new album took?
Daniel Seavey: In specific light of creating the album, the prolonged break we unexpectedly took was actually the silver lining in light of everything that had happened... We had time to make the album perfect. And although as a creator you’ll never feel like you’ve reached perfection, this album is the closest to ‘perfect’ we’ve ever come.
But give some insight into why the band felt like it needed to take that break from social media to put out this new album?
DS: We had been on tour for about three years, with no breaks in between. Our longest time off in all those years was maybe a week or so, and we were honestly drained. We were dying to get into a real studio and have real time create something special.
You say this album is a lot more personal than your earlier music. What spurred the need to look inward to create new content?
DS: There’s a lot of upsides to coming home from being on tour. And there’s a lot of downsides... First of all, touring is an experience like nothing else. You’re high on adrenaline, and more full of purpose and validation than you’ll probably ever be again. But you’re also exhausted 99 per cent of the time. Coming home from tour is equally amazing and tough. I missed having a closet like I do at home, and I missed sleeping in some days. And I’m most of all I missed my family and friends. But things change after tour. People change. Life changes. When you’re gone that long, and find that much success while you’re gone, your ‘normal life’ you missed having becomes a bit different. It’s not so normal anymore. And that can be hard. Reality sank in deeper than it ever had for me when I got off the road. But, I would say about five months into being home, things started to change... I found out so much about myself and how to take better care of myself. I found out so much about my friends and family I didn’t know before because I didn’t have the time to ask them how they were doing. I learned how to show the people that I love how much I really care about them. I learned to accept the present moment (good or bad) and not worry so much about the next moment. The Good Times and The Bad Ones is about real life. In a weird way, I think most people would agree, the pandemic has made life more real than it’s ever felt. It gave everyone a chance to slow down and think about what matters. We took those thoughts and made an album out of them.
What does it mean to be a boy band in this generation?
Zach Herron: We became a ‘man’ band when I turned 18. Being boy band is some huge shoes to fill, and it definitely comes with its challenges. Boy bands, back in the day, had a different reputation than they do in our generation. We’re just trying to make the music we love and work hard to reach our goal. But, I think what sets us apart is our story. Before we were a band, we were solo artistes, and we became friends on tour.
Top five albums:
Blonde — Frank Ocean
American Teen — Khalid
Fine Line — Harry Styles
F*CK LOVE — The Kid LAROI
beerbongs & bentleys — Post Malone
Most likely to go to a metal concert:
Probably Jack. I don't know what goes on in his head. So, I’m going to say him. Or maybe we’d all go to a metal concert just to see what it’s like.
Quirky skill you picked up during the lockdown:
I’ve gotten better at raiding the grocery store shelves for toilet paper! People were going crazy.
Shawn Mendes for sure. I think he is a super talented artist, and I’ve looked up to him for a while. I think it would be awesome to collaborate with him.
What are you looking to do with this album sonically?
DS: We are looking to bring back true musicality with this album. There’s a certain magic about live music that we love and miss. We looked to bands like Queen, the Eagles, FUN, the Beatles for inspiration. We want people to make memories to this music.
Run us through the writing process — do you create more music than what can be fit into an album and then pick the best?
DS: Writing and producing this album brought me and the guys so much joy... there’s nothing more exciting than making a song and hearing magic come out of it. We made well over a hundred songs on the road. The ten songs on this album are the ones that tell the story we want to tell our fans right now. When you hear these songs back-to-back, it’s so clear where we’re at mentally and emotionally right now. And as artists we feel that being honest in your writing is crucial.
How do you think your sensibilities have evolved since 2016?
DS: The guys and I are a lot more sensible and sensitive to each other’s feelings. We’ve been through so much life together, at this point we’ve uncovered ever layer of who we are to one another. It’s honestly super liberating being able to be so real with each other.
All of you have picked up instruments for this album. Was that a calculated effort aimed towards the creation of this album?
DS: We let ‘who we are’ guide the creation of this album. And in doing so, we played a ton of different instruments on the album. We’ve all played instruments growing up and have always wanted to play them in our music and on stage. Now that the music is truly ours and from us, we brought instruments into the mix.
Any words of comfort for fans during these trying times?
ZH: Things are hard right now. But I hope you know we will get through this. You’re not alone, and everyone is experiencing the same thing right now. Times will get tough, but at the end of the day, we are all growing through it together.
The Good Times and The Bad Ones releases on January 15, 2021.