Interview: Boyce Avenue
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:30:02
Boyce Avenue remain one of YouTube's biggest phenomena. However, their talents extend far beyond the digital realm of covers and comments. The brotherly trio craft danceable pop rock that's infused with impressive musical talent and raw, real energy. They've built their own stage and turned into an utterly undeniable global presence. That's because the songwriting is that strong. You can feel it on their brand new No Limits EP out tomorrow [iTunes link]. They've built a lane that belongs solely to them, and they're cruising to the next level on massive hooks you'll be singing along to for quite some time to come.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Fabian Manzano of Boyce Avenue discusses No Limits and so much more.
No Limits definitely sees you incorporate many different styles. Was that part of your approach?
It's cool nowadays. There's more freedom and flexibility in the structure of the way you're allowed to record and release music. Ten years ago or if we were signed to a major label, we might not have had the luxury of putting out an EP like this. We were able to experiment with the songs. They're much different. Some of them are like dance pop. It's a lot of sound for us. We've got the flexibility to do one thing here, and then reinvent ourselves on the next album or EP. I feel like there's less pressure. It was a fun little piece to do. It's a bit of a departure for us. The first album All We Have Left was a little heavier. Even from the standpoint of lyrical content, the songs were a bit darker and sadder. My younger brother Alejandro wrote most of the songs on that record. He was going through a breakup and some life-changing experiences. A lot of those songs were really intense lyrically and emotionally. We tried to focus on powerful and uplifting lyrical content on these songs, but they're a little more uplifting and fun. "I'll Be The One" is way more dance than anything we would've released in the past. Songs like "Speed Limit" have a mainstream pop vibe to them. It was fun to do No Limits, experiment, and diversify our sound a little.
Is that the general ethos of Boyce Avenue?
Our band is really unique. Back in the day, if some of the bands I grew up on were to change their sound, they would've gotten torn apart by their hardcore fan base. They would've been like, "This isn't the Pearl Jam I know!" It was more difficult to experiment and try things because you were sort of pigeonholed. If you're a pop punk band, you're a pop punk band and you can't do anything else. With us, we've been built our fan base by covering so many different types of artists and genres. So, our fans are more open-minded when it comes to our original music. We've covered artists like Pearl Jam, The Fray, and Michael Bublé. There are so many different acts, and it translates into our music as well.
What ties the EP together for you?
Even the vibe of some of the tracks is different, what does it tie together is the fact that we have a very similar approach to how we write and record music. Even though our individual musical tastes are slightly different, I still think our overall vision of what Boyce Avenue should be or sound like is still pretty spot on. When it came to this EP, we produced it ourselves and wrote the songs in our home studio. We've come up with a pretty good system when it comes to recording. We know what we're good at, and we've come up with a good flow. The reason it sounds so cohesive is probably because we self-produced it. In the future, I think we're going to work with different producers. We're not stuck on self-producing though. After this tour, we're going to New York in order to work with some different producers and songwriters. This EP worked out that way. Alejandro is like the glue that holds it all together from a musical standpoint. He's a phenomenal musician, and he's got a vision in mind for how certain Boyce Avenue songs should sound or be produced. Early on in the process, I confide in him and get his guidance. With the three brothers working on tracks in the same room, we end up getting that cohesive feeling. We have a lot of long discussions about each of the songs and where they should go. It works out that way. We did "I'll Be The One" with Milkman, and it's the biggest departure but it still has our sound because we wrote and produced an original demo the way Boyce Avenue would. Then, we sent it to Milkman, and he added his flare to it. We went back and forth after that to make sure it had our overall vibe. We're sensitive and particular about how the songs are produced.
What's the story behind "Scars"?
Alejandro wrote that song. We were working on this TV show The X Factor. We met a lot of talented young artists that came out of the show. It was cool seeing their drive and passion to make it in the music industry. We finished working on that show writing songs for some of those artists. That was a song from the batch we ended up using for ourselves because it clicked for us. There was something about it. Even though we had written it for another artist, we felt like it was definitely Boyce Avenue. It fit our album. Alejandro has a really good ability to write songs with powerful story lyrics. That's one of my favorites on the EP.
What artists shaped you?
You grow up listening to whatever your parents listen to. We'd do a lot of family road trips together. Our family is very tight. In the car, we'd be singing along to whatever our parents played. We were exposed to a lot of talented singers. We didn't grow up listening to rock 'n' roll and Led Zeppelin. We grew up listening to John Denver, James Taylor, and Jim Croce. My parents are from Puerto Rico so we listened to Julio Iglesias. We did listen to Journey though. We loved listening to the singer-songwriters who had a powerful story or message. Steve Perry is one of the best vocalists of all-time in our opinion. Right now, we all love John Mayer and Coldplay. I tend to go a little bit more alternative rock. I like Pearl Jam, Muse, Rage Against the Machine, and Black Keys.
If No Limits were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
That's a great question. We just saw Rush on the plane, and I'll say that.
What's your favorite song from Boyce Avenue?