Boys Like Girls Discuss ‘Crazy World,’ Apocalyptic Music Video + How Gotye’s Success Helps Them
Boys Like Girls are back! The Boston-area foursome, who scored hits like ‘The Great Escape,’ ‘Love Drunk’ and the Taylor Swift-assisted ‘Two is Better Than One’ with their first two albums, are preparing to release ‘Crazy World,’ their first new material in three years, in December.
The record features contributions from the Wallflowers’ Barrie Maguire and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush (‘Life of the Party’ has a very Sugarland sound), but otherwise the band completed ‘Crazy World’ without any big-name collaborations. The album was produced by frontman Martin Johnson and recorded at his house.
Guitarist Paul DiGiovanni spoke with PopCrush about the new single ‘Be Your Everything’ (now available on iTunes), the dance album they shelved, and the group’s current co-headlining tour with All-American Rejects.
What moment from your current tour with All-American Rejects, Parachute and the Ready Set stands out most so far?
It’s funny, some of the smaller shows have been my favorite and the best that we’ve played. We’ve just connected with the fans and they’ve been really fun. But at the same time, right in the beginning we did Boston and New York in the same week and they were both big venues, sold out, all our friends and family, all our label and management, and everyone that we’ve grown up with and known for years were at the shows. It was really cool to come back and show them that we’re better than ever and we’re gonna make it happen again.
Tell us about the new single, ‘Be Your Everything.’
We are very excited about it, of course. It is available on iTunes right now – if anyone wants to pick it up, that would be lovely. It’s a power love song, the only true love song on the record, and the lyrics are kind of a juxtaposition, like, “I’ll be your shelter / I’ll be your storm / I’ll make you shiver / I’ll keep you warm.” It’s a really lyrical thing with a huge chorus.
It’s one of the songs on the new record that’s a little bit like older Boys Like Girls. It links up our last two records with this one very well. That was one of the reasons we wanted to put this out as the first single.
How would you describe the concept of the ‘Be Your Everything’ video?
The music video is this idea where the world has sort of polluted itself to death. We did it out in the desert in Cali, and there’s plastic bottles and trash flying around everywhere. Everybody’s dead except Martin, and he’s riding around on a motorcycle. He’s picking up all these clues that there’s another girl who’s still alive, and he’s trying to find her. She finds the last living piece of vegetation on earth, this flower that she digs up, and she’s walking around taking Polaroids and dropping them, leaving clues just in case someone’s alive to try and find it. Then finally in the end, they meet up.
It’s a cool concept. We’ve never gone so conceptual with a video, with a story like that. It was fun to shoot, and I think it turned out great.
We actually shot that on the location that was built in the desert for the Iron Man movie when Stark was held captive in the Middle East underground in that little prison. They also shot ‘The Devil’s Rejects,’ that Rob Zombie movie. It was cool to be able to film something [where] I’m in on those locations.
Watch the Boys Like Girls 'Be Your Everything' Video
Why ‘Crazy World’ as the album title?
It’s one of the songs, and that song encompasses a lot of the record. It’s just about how the world has gotten out of control – everybody is doing everything on the internet and on their phones and on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
You see everyone tagging where they are and not really talking. It’s crazy how fast that crept up on us, that we act like that now in society. The record is just saying, ‘Let’s slow down, get off the phone, let’s hang out and have a regular time like we did when we were kids. Let’s relax a little bit and go with the flow and interact like humans.’
On that note, I read that Martin recently stopped a show to ask everyone to put away their phones.
Yeah, that’s happened. Especially on this tour – no one’s doing encores, so he’ll be like, ‘Hey everyone, this is our last song. We’re gonna play ‘Love Drunk’ and we’re gonna get out of here.’ And you look up, and everybody has a camera or a cell phone out, recording or taking pictures. The video just sounds bad and looks bad. And there’s so many videos on YouTube of that already, so we just say, ‘Hey, put it away and be present and watch with your own eyes.’ I remember after he said that, everyone put their stuff away and then kids were crowd surfing and jumping around and interacting, and it was so cool. That’s the way a show should be.
It's been three years since your last album release. What changes to your sound will we hear on 'Crazy World'?
It’s a little different. Every one of our records has grown a bit and we’ve grown up as a band. Martin wrote most of the songs for this one when he was in Nashville, and then he came to L.A. and brought them, and we did pre-production and jammed on them. It definitely has a little bit of an influence from that time spent in Nashville working with a couple country artists.
The way it was recorded, it’s more dynamic, there’s more instruments, everything’s spread out. You can sit down and put headphones on and hear all these little things you never picked up on. As opposed to our other records, with drums, huge guitars, bass and vocals, every song was smacking you in the face.
Now it’s a little more dynamic, there’s big parts, there’s lower parts, there’s tons of different stringed instruments. It’s more modern, a little more broad for a bigger audience.
Here’s a question radio will want to know: Are there any dubstep breakdowns?
[Laughs]. There is not a dubstep breakdown to be found on this record. We do have a couple remixes of some of the songs that are pretty out of control, but I wouldn’t say there are any dubstep elements involved.
Was there any pressure either from the label or anyone else to go in that direction, since dance and electronic music are so big right now?
Funny you would say that… we took a year off. Our last single off ‘Love Drunk’ was ‘Heart Heart Heartbreak.’ When we put that out, radio stations were like, ‘Hey, this is a good song,’ but this was a time when no one was playing guitars or rock music on the radio at all. It was all dance stuff. They were like, ‘Hey, can we have a version of it without any guitars, a dance version?’ We were like, ‘That’s not really us.’
We took a minute to regroup and we started working on our third record, and it was all electronic and dark, kinda heavy, almost industrial. The songs were cool. We liked them, and I still listen to them sometimes. But it wasn’t really us. It just didn’t make sense that, ‘Oh, radio changed, and now we’re gonna do things that will fit on the radio.’
That’s why we took that time off, and then we turned it all around and did this more organic thing. And there’s a lot more stuff now like Gotye and fun., there’s a lot of cool rock and indie stuff on the radio getting huge. I think the best thing was for us to stay true to ourselves, take a minute to breathe, and write this record and make it the way it should be. The label was very supportive and we’re happy to have it out at the right time, the right way.
Watch Boys Like Girls Perform 'The First Time' Live
Can you tell us about another track on the album that you really like?
I think everyone’s gonna be really excited about ‘Stuck in the Middle.’ It has a really cool beat behind it, a delicate string section, huge chorus. I love the concept, the idea of being stuck in the middle of two things. That’s probably my favorite right now.
Some bands don't survive that transitional phase where they're growing and maturing and their fans are getting a little older. How do you navigate that period and try to bring your fans along with you?
The cool thing for us is our first record came out in 2006, and we had a lot of younger fans. It’s almost 2013 now, and we’re doing a lot of college shows and when we do meet and greets after, we have so many kids that come up and say, ‘You guys were my first concert in 2007, I’ve loved you guys.’ These kids have actually grown up with us, and so many people are like, ‘We’re so glad you guys are back touring and making new music.’
So I think it’s cool that we’re growing and the fans that liked it from the first time they heard ‘Great Escape’ have grown up with us and they’re in their 20s now too, and they like what we’re doing now. That’s a cool progression that we can grow with our fans like that.
A few more personal questions to finish things off… What’s the most recent tattoo you've gotten?
I think the last one I got was a lighthouse in stormy weather that I got on my wrist to cap off my right arm. I haven’t gotten a tattoo in years. I just haven’t been in the mindset. I’ve been so busy getting everything back in order with the band and making sure the live show’s perfect and getting into touring again. Once we’re in a steady groove, I’m back in it for sure.
What's the most surprising thing on your ipod?
Let me see what I have right now. I have such a weird variety of stuff. I have the new Muse. I just downloaded the new Dethklok, from that Metalocalpyse Cartoon Network show. I really like that. I have a lot of really weird stuff that you wouldn’t expect.
Finally, if you had to play guitar in one other band, which would it be?
I would probably join up in a reunion of Led Zeppelin, and I would play rhythm guitar because I cannot keep up with Jimmy Page. I love classic rock type stuff and I love blues and country stuff, and that’s kind of a mix of all that. They’ve always been one of my biggest influences musically, so I would love to play a show and just rock out on rhythm guitar with them.