Boys Like Girls
In the 21st century, it's extremely easy to get distracted. We're tethered to our devices and constantly pulled in countless directions. We've got smartphones, laptops, and Wi-Fi everywhere, and it seems like attention is almost too precious of a commodity to even be held.
"Life in 2012 is so crazy," declares Boys Like Girls' singer and songwriter Martin Johnson. "Whether you're working or going to school, it's insane how fragmented everything can be. Music is the only thing that still holds people together."
While making the platinum-selling quartet's third album, Crazy World [Columbia Records], Johnson underwent a serious creative transformation. Radio had embraced the pulsating sounds of electronic dance and club music, and it seemed like rock was being swept under the proverbial rug. In 2010, Johnson began writing and recording with that popular landscape in mind, but it didn't click for him. So, he took a trip to Nashville.
"I was trying to conform to what was happening at radio rather than conform to who I was as a musician," he sighs. "We decided to take some time off and collect ourselves. I went down to Nashville and wrote a ton of songs in early 2011. I hung out and experienced the culture too. I wanted to approach music from a different perspective. It's so laptop-based in Los Angeles and New York. Real players still exist in Nashville and that inspired me. I went back to L.A., showed the guys what I was working on, and we went into the studio immediately."
The result is an album that bristles with the group's inherent energy, but also boasts irresistible pop rock elegance. Johnson assumed production duties himself, and the band cut eleven diverse anthems that run the gamut from the shimmering "First Time" to the heartfelt piano ballad "Leaving California".
About his role behind the board, Johnson comments, "It was a really different process, and it was a great way for us to bond in the studio. This was our opportunity to collectively say, 'This is not what the machine created. This is what we created.' We spoke out and made an album that felt right to us."
It's going to feel right to the band's faithful and new fans as well. The first single "Be Your Everything" sails on a massive hook that's instantly infectious and invigorating.
About the song, the frontman goes on, "It's a great transition from where the band was. We came from a wall of guitars, and the sound has evolved. Lyrically, it's a straightforward love song, inviting a specific girl in. The only time I really express my feelings is when I'm writing music. That's how it's been since I was a little kid. This song is the moment when it becomes okay to say, I love you."
At the same time, there's the hand-clap stomp of "Life of the Party," which lives up to its moniker. In a world preoccupied with tragedy and its own end, Johnson urges to let go and live a little during the track's unforgettable refrain.
"Enjoy your life while you're still alive," he smiles. "When it all comes crashing down, where are you going to be? It's about having a great time in the moment because you never know when it's going to be gone."
Boys Like Girls -- Johnson, Paul DiGiovanni [Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals], John Keefe [Drums], Morgan Dorr [Bass, Backing Vocals] -- have certainly been making the most of their time since they burst onto the scene in 2006 with the release of their gold-selling eponymous debut. The album moved over 718,000 copies and its first single, "The Great Escape," reached the top of the pop charts, selling 1.6 million-plus copies. Together with 2009's Love Drunk, the band has sold over 1.17 million albums and 8 million tracks worldwide. They also remain a digital juggernaut with over 4.4 million Facebook fans, over 40 million YouTube/VEVO views, and 165,000 Twitter followers.
Most importantly though, Crazy World is the next level for the band, which Johnson founded in the suburbs of Boston, MA back in 2005. "I'm no longer an 18-year-old just stoked on hooking up with girls, drinking Bud Light, and playing fast pop punk," he divulges. "You experience things in life, and you realize you have one chance to say something as a musician and create something great that feels honest to you. This is that chance."
So what are Boys Like Girls ultimately saying?
"Crazy World takes you to a different place," Johnson concludes. "That was the point. Everything is so hyperactive and the digital distractions can be overwhelming. Step aside in this Crazy World and experience the things that truly matter."