It is extremely rare to find an artist on the radio today that stands out from the others and combines the perfect instrumentals, lyrics, and rhythm to make the ears 100% satisfied. AJR would be the exception.
The three brother trio combines the elements of pop, electronic, barbershop, and dubstep to create a truly eccentric sound. They started off eight years ago, busking on the streets of New York City. Nowadays, they open for the likes of Demi Lovato and Hoodie Allen and are even headlining their own shows. In October of 2013, they were named Clear Channels “Artist On the Rise” and in 2014 were on IHeartRadio’s Top 40 artists of the month. The band currently has one EP released, and has another EP scheduled for release on September 23rd.
Alt-Wire had the privilege to sit down with Adam, Jack, and Ryan of AJR to discuss the band and their upcoming EP. Here’s what they had to say!
AltWire [Mattison]: Do you feel you face more challenges being a band of brothers versus a band of friends or acquaintances?
Ryan Met [AJR]: I think there are advantages and disadvantages. Advantage would be that we grew up together, we all shared a bedroom in New York City in a very small apartment. We had triple bunk beds, but we have grown very close from that; therefore, we all have the same musical influences so the vision for the band is very similar. A disadvantage is that we spend a lot, a lot of time with each other. Like, we are all going on vacation together next week so there is never really a break or anything.
AW: Is that a bad thing?
Jack Met [AJR]: It’s a good and a bad thing. It seems to work.
AW: Do you find yourselves arguing a lot of music related feelings?
JM: No, not all. Like [Ryan] said, we all have the same vision for the music since we have been listening to it, and loving it from such a young age. So in terms of the music, it’s all a really easy process.
AW: So I hear that you guys started off performing on the streets of New York City making $150 an hour. How does it feel to go from busking to headlining your own shows?
Adam Met [AJR]: It was absolutely crazy street performing because you go out there and you have no idea if anybody is going to be receptive to the music. You play stuff, and some days we actually got rocks in our hats instead of money. But in the end we actually ended up doing pretty well, and we took that money back to our apartment and bought a ukulele, bought a keyboard and bought some pro-tools. We recorded our whole album (EP) with all the money we made street performing. But, to answer your question, we are now performing in front of people who actually care to be at a show. It’s so different and it’s very rewarding for us.
AW: Do you guys have any pre-performance jitters?
AM: The most nerve-wracking we have ever felt is before street performing because nobody really cares that you are there and nobody is there to see you. When people are there to see us and they are singing the songs back to us, it’s very rewarding.
AW: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
RM: I’d have to go with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, it would be really amazing. Beach Boys have been our biggest influence and I think he is just an incredible writer and singer.
JM: I think Lorde would be really cool. She’s definitely introduced something new to the music world this year and she has some really great ideas.
AM: Kayne West is a really big influence for us in terms of production with the way he pushes the boundary of production on every album he does. He would be really great to work with.
AW: When you guys first started out, you tweeted the video link for ‘I’m Ready’ to about 80 celebrities. How many responses did you actually get?
RM: One. One beautiful response. It was after about 7 years of no success, of just street performing and trying to build this fan base and get our name out there. We decided to tweet these 80 celebrities such as Justin Bieber, with the link to the ‘I’m Ready’ Video and Sia was the only one that responded. She actually retweeted us and ended up meeting us for breakfast in the city and introduced to a lot of people in the industry.
JM: (makes joke on setting of the interview) Now we are here in a closet next to the bathroom.
AM: We finally made it!
AW: What was it like to open for extremely well known artists such as Demi Lovato and Hoodie Allen?
RM: I think it’s really cool because we did it in the living room for so long, we had no idea what our audience would be. It was really cool just from the two examples you gave to open for Demi Lovato who obviously has a lot of young girl fans. I think we appeal to them. But for Hoodie Allen who had a lot of 18-year-old guys in tank-top fans and we really made a big fan base out of them, and they are still super reactive fans. Its pretty cool for us to see that our music has appealed to such a wide range of people.
AW: So, I have to ask, did you open for Hoodie Allen with your song ‘Woodie Allen’?
RM: No, we didn’t, but we should have. I think the audience would have been so confused. We thought about doing a remake of ‘Woody Allen’ ft Hoodie Allen, but you never know.
AW: What’s it like to be signed to Warner Brothers?
AM: It’s really cool. Actually, we are on our own label called AJR Productions and all the creative stuff happens on our side. So we write, produce, mix, everything all ourselves. We do all the art and videos and stuff, and Warner takes care of the business side of everything. It’s a really great relationship because we get to be artists and we get to keep doing exactly the kind of stuff we want to. Its kind of what Mackelmore did, and we are really happy to be pushing the industry forward like that.
AW: When can we expect an album from AJR?
AM: We have a second EP coming out September 23rd, with our second single which is called ‘Infinity’. We will actually be performing it today. Our album will be coming out in February.
AW: What advice would you give to someone who is currently where you guys were 8 years ago?
JM: I think a value to us that we have really realized now is uniqueness and just really finding something different about your sound. There already is One Direction, there already is Lorde, It’s about really finding something new that draws people in is really important to us.