The semi-formally dressed members of Boys Like Girls were greeted with bouts of applause as they entered the press conference at ION Sky. Located on the 55th floor of the colossal ION Orchard Mall, ION Sky offers its guests a breath-taking birds-eye view of Singapore, which the members of the band extolled frequently throughout the ten-minute panel session.
Boys Like Girls
From left: John Keefe (drums), Paul DiGiovanni (lead guitar), Martin Johnson (lead vocals), Morgan Dorr (bass guitar)
The four-piece band, who were in town to headline the ION Orchard 4th Anniversary Fashion Concert on Oct 18, found their claim to fame back in 2006 following the remarkable success their debut album Boys Like Girls achieved. Certified gold by the RIAA, Boys Like Girls established Boys Like Girls’ status as a top rock act. Comprising of Martin Johnson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Paul DiGiovanni (lead guitar, backing vocals), Morgan Dorr (bass guitar, backing vocals) and John Keefe (drums), they have since released three studio albums, the latest being the 2012 release Crazy World.
Every Boys Like Girls album brings its listeners something new; a side of the band that has never been seen before. Their second LP, Love Drunk, showcased the rock side of the group and their third LP, Crazy World, saw the group exchange their rock sound for a country-pop sound.
With a toothpick in his mouth the bulk of the time, Martin promised the fans a good time at their 40-minute acoustic showcase the next day. In response to a question about how different they find Singapore this time around, John replied, “It definitely gets better and better every time we come back.” Some places a Boys Like Girls trip to Singapore is incomplete without is a trip to ION Orchard and local food courts. “Enjoy the fine dining, enjoy the shopping, have a good time,” Martin rapped humorously. Speaking about the sensitive topic of durian, they revealed that Paul actually liked durian, to which the reticent guitarist shot down.
Some fans would know that each band member has their own side project — John and Morgan are in an Americana band called Best of Friends while Paul and Martin have been spending some time in the studio doing production work. Understanding that some fans may take this as a sign that Boys Like Girls was splitting up, Martin reassured us by explaining that they were all best friends. Although they might have other musical ventures fuelled by their passion for music, they will always be working on Boys Like Girls. When the host Rozz brought up the growing prevalence of EDM (electronic dance music), the band members immediately shot it down, promising that Boys Like Girls would never turn to EDM (credit gaul). Martin says the band is tentatively looking into trying something more alternative in their next album, although that remains up in the air.
Comparing the crowds in their native United States and Asia, Martin admits that the crowd back home is a little hard to win over. “I think that the passion for music, specifically in Asia, is still really amazing,” Martin comments. “There are true amazing fans who gravitate towards different types of scenes in music and bands that aren’t as relevant.”
Martin recounted a bizarre experience at one of their Warped Tour shows, where approximately four hundred pairs of flip-flops were thrown onto the stage. Staying on the topic of items being thrown on the stage, John wryly adds that he was once hit in the face by a shoe. “There was just a lot of love going on,” the drummer joked.
Despite their jet lag, this being only their second day in Singapore, the guys were surprisingly chipper and spirited as they randomly rapped and broke into mini-tunes during and after the press conference.
Boys Like Girls have performed in Singapore quite a number of times, but their show at ION Orchard on Oct 18 is their first acoustic show here. “For normal shows, we kinda have a flow that we follow – we have a pool that we adhere to. In acoustic shows, we just figure it out as we go and we bounce off the crowd,” explained Paul. “Everyone is completely different from the next, so it’s fun to improvise a little bit and just have fun with it.” Another one of his favourite parts of playing acoustic shows is the enhanced ability to interact with the audience in an intimate setting. Of course, though, they still have a set-list for acoustic shows – they will stick to a form but they’ll be more spontaneous and even take requests from the crowd! “We’re supposed to play for forty minutes, but we’re gonna play as long as they want us to,” Martin says, showing his true badass colours. Well, you know what they say... YOLO, right?
“I’m going to get naked onstage for sure,” John (unfortunately) teased.
We also had the opportunity to meet up with the band for a short interview.
As this was a roundtable interview, all questions asked by Musichel will be denoted with: [M].
You guys are really great songwriters. Have you ever experienced writer’s block? [M]
Martin: Writer’s block... I think you gotta work through it. It’s interesting, it’s like... When I was 18, I used to just pine away on my father’s third floor with an acoustic guitar at two p.m. And suddenly you’ll just power through it — if the song’s great, the song’s great; if it’s not, it’s not. Some days it floats, some days it’s not. I think it’s cool to revisit it.
John: For writer’s block, you’re writing, it’s not that nothing good is coming out. It’s like the 1800s guy throwing and crumbling up the paper.
Martin: I mean, sometimes I feel like I can’t come up with anything that’s great and it’s frustrating but you gotta respect that. I think every true creative person has the artist and the businessman. And it’s like, the businessman — he’s taking the artist out for dinner or to surf or lunch out of the studio. When that’s happening, and when you come back, maybe after going to a movie, you refuel the deck.
Have you ever revisited incomplete old songs and try to complete them? [M]
Martin: No. Sometimes, things are cool. I think a lot of the time, it’s like, you’ve grown and you’ve learned and sometimes, the fresh inspiration is best.
John: But it can inspire, y’know, whenever you revisit old songs and you go like, “Oh!” and come up with a new idea. So it’d be good for writer’s block.
You’ve toured with the All-American Rejects and The Ready Set. What bands are you listening to now that you’d like to tour with in the future?
John: Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte.
Morgan: I think there’s a lot of interesting music that’s coming out now and I think we all just want to tour with fresh, awesome and cool artists.
A lot of your fans in Singapore have been listening to your music from a young age. How does it feel like to ‘grow up’ with your fans?
Martin: I think it’s cool! I think it’s awesome to see people who have been with us since 2006. Y’know, they’d all come out to shows and be there and they’re still singing along and they’re still passionate. It’s cool. I mean, it feels weird and feels like you’re kinda old, you know what I mean? Sometimes, people are like, “I really loved you in middle school!” and I’m like, “Man, I’m old!” But it’s cool, it’s a compliment and it’s awesome growing up with the fans.
Are you guys still on friendly terms with [the band’s ex-bassist] Bryan [Donahue]?
Martin: Yeah, I think we all always wished 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 wished him the best for his endeavours.
Page 1: Press Conference & Interview
Page 2: Concert Review
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