Seeing that it was the fourth time the men of Boys Like Girls were stepping foot onto Singaporean soil, you’d think that they’d feel pretty much at home by now. Yet frontman Martin Johnson still claimed to be the butt of durian experiments, reprising his imperative role as “the American guy” falling prey to the locals who simply insist on letting him try the “stinky food.”
Johnson however, has found a profound love for Dim Sum next to his usual breakfast serving of bacon and eggs.
Dressed to the nines with their sharp, new G-Star outfits, the chirpy vocalist was in jolly spirits as he led the quartet up the spiralling walkway, 55 floors up in the (ION) Sky. Determined to get the ball rolling, he promptly pointed to yours truly, announcing something along the lines of “I wanna hear what he has to say.”
In a distant past, a thirteen year old version of me might’ve pooped in his pants.
Strangely calm, I managed to inquire how the different side projects of Boys Like Girls, ranging from guitarist Paul DiGiovanni’s production escapades, to Best of Friends, the Americana-influenced band composing of drummer John Keefe and bassist Morgan Dorr managed to provide inspiration for the Boston-based band. Brows furrowed, Johnson simply stated that collaborations had definitely been an integral part in their BLG career, continuing that there were “always plans to make new music,” but his observation of a more “singles-based market” made any future plans hazy.
Given Johnson’s work with huge names like Avril Lavigne, Daughtry and Jason Derulo, the band was “always open to collaborations with somebody super outside their genre of music” not necessarily excluding EDM to which Keefe mysteriously added, “You never know…” Answering a question about the things BLG has picked out from a widespread international audience, Johnson described the crowd in the States (some of which might’ve hit Keefe with a shoe out of sheer zest) as harder to win over whereas the Asian passion for music was “still amazing.” In a rather sweeping statement, he then proclaimed that "bands aren’t as relevant” as fans gravitated to different scenes of music.
A statement controversial enough, coming from a band who at their early zenith, toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte so I ask, do you now consider BLG a mainstream act? Despite tales of 400 pairs of flip flops emerging on stage at the 2007 Warped Tour, Johnson confesses that he “never really considered (the band) to be part of that scene.”
“If you listen to the debut album, it’s a pop record. You know we came out in 2006 where it was like the emo scene or the pop punk scene. We got affiliated with bands like that and some of our great friends in All Time Low and We The Kings, bands we’ve toured with, are awesome guys but I don’t know if we’re the same type of band or if we ever have been. Every album has been a natural progression; I don’t like to think that we’re part of any type of genre. We put out a pop record and because it had distorted guitars on it, we got called an emo band. It’s cool with me, when I listen to a new artist, I wanna put it in a box, I wanna see this means that and I understand people did that with Boys Like Girls but I don’t like to think about it twice.” Still, when asked about the possibility of them returning to Warped Tour, Johnson, an attendee at the Ventura stop last year had no hesitations replying, “Absolutely. In a second. We had such a great time at the ’07 Warped Tour.”
Constantly brimming with energy, the remnants of the press conference included Johnson’s ardent proclamation of his undying love to be “At the ION mall, hanging out, shopping full time” if they were ever stuck in Singapore, an impromptu musical burst of “What you got, what you got, what’s your question??” and promises of a striptease courtesy of John Keefe.
In a separate but brief interview, BLG tackled the problem of writer’s block to which Johnson believes the artist and the businessman within one’s creativity ought to be taken out for dinner, a surf or just out of the studio to “re-fuel the tank” concluding that “fresh inspiration is the best.” Finally, we got round to interrogating them about the departure of founding member, Bryan Donahue who’s now a touring guitarist with All Time Low. With varying tales of how Donahue was kicked out and “just didn’t want in anymore”, it was still heartening to hear Johnson say that “We always wish him the best, we had an amazing, amazing couple of years in the band with him and we’ll never forget where we came from. We always wish him the best for his endeavours.”