Boys Like Girls band mates Martin Johnson and Paul DiGiovanni stopped by the TWIST office recently to chat about their brand new album, their musical inspirations, and their upcoming tour! While they were here, they had a blast flipping through our August issue and cracking up at the How Embarrassing page. Martin and Paul also did an amazing acoustic performance of their new song "Be Your Everything" and the song they recorded with Taylor Swift, "Two Is Better Than One"! Check out our conversation and their performances below - plus their special shout-out to TWIST readers!
Photo: Courtesy of Christina Jedra
TWIST: You had a lot of success with your first two albums. Then you took a break and worked on independent projects. Why are you getting back together now?
Martin: It wasn't so much a break to do independent stuff. We made an album and we threw it out because it just didn't feel right. It didn't feel honest to who we were as a band, musically. In 2010, everything changed and went kind of dance-oriented on the radio, and that was intimidating for a band, to get asked for a mix without guitar. It's like, what do you do to be yourself but still fit in on the radio? So we made an album that just kind of felt contrived. When we threw it out it was a little discouraging, and we chose to take a year off. In a year, everything came back together, and a great album full of songs came together. So when it was time to make an album, I just got together with the guys in LA. We all stayed at my house and made it work. It took a little while to get it right, but I think that it was worth the wait.
TWIST: It's coming out this fall, right?
Martin: Yeah, October. We don't have a specific date yet.
TWIST: How will it compare to your past albums?
Martin: It's a little bit more dynamic. It's really fun and has lots of energy. We're really excited to play the songs live. It's more organic. It's kind of a left turn from where we came from. It's intimidating in a musical climate that's all made on computers to make a really organic, real instrument album where everyone is playing their parts. We're bringing in new instruments, mandolins, piano songs. We tried to make the best hybrid that we could from the old Boys Like Girls sound and have something new, fresh, and cool.
TWIST: Is it true that country music is an influence for the band?
Martin: I think the best songs on the radio are on country radio. I think the storytelling is just brilliant. The storytelling and the melodic content on country radio is really strong. I think the writers in Nashville are brilliant. We pull a lot of inspiration from that.
TWIST: Are there any artists that you really look up to?
Paul: I like Tom Petty a lot. I've liked him forever. I really like John Mayer. We did Jingle Ball a few years ago, and we hung out with him. That was really cool because I'd had every one of his EPs and records. I've always looked up to him because he's such a great musician.
TWIST: Can we expect a tour after this upcoming album?
Martin: We're doing a co-headlining tour this fall with the All-American Rejects. It's going to be all over the United States. We're really excited. We're actually heading to New York September 21st. We're going to be at the Best Buy Theater.
TWIST: Do you have any pre-show rituals when you're on tour?
Martin: We just try to center ourselves as a band. We all get in a huddle and do a pump up speech. We sort of hang and do a little prayer.
TWIST: What are your favorite songs to perform?
Paul: My new favorite is "First Time." It's full of energy and really drives you. It's super fun to play. I love it.
Martin: I love playing "First Time" too. There's also a new song called "Life of the Party" that's really fun. I think it's important when you're playing live to play what the fans want to hear, and play the old songs. I think a lot of bands put out a new record and then don't want to play the old material that the fans love and come to see you for. We really try to pick up on the cues and try to give them what they want.
TWIST: You've played those songs so many times. How do you keep it fresh?
Paul: It's different. If I listened to our record for an hour every night, I think I would be sick of it. But when you're performing it, it's a different animal every night. You're in a different room. Everything sounds a little bit different. There are different kids in the audience. It's not like playing the same song every night. For me, and for us, I'm never like, 'Oh I don't want to play this again.' I love playing 'The Great Escape' every night. I love playing everything we've played for years.
TWIST: Do you guys have any cool gifts that people have either thrown onstage or sent to you?
Martin: I love when fans give us really cool scrapbooks. We have a couple fans that have been to 60 or 70 Boys Like Girls shows, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles to see the band. They have big scrapbooks from over the years, and we recognize them at every show. I think that's amazing. It's cute when they cook us food. They're really sweet.
TWIST: Martin, you've had songwriting sessions with artists like Taylor Swift and Hot Chelle Rae. How does your work with other artists affect your work with the band?
Martin: I think you take something unique out of every single writing session that you do. For me, it's all lubrication of the brain. I'm not going to be able to write 200 Boys Like Girls songs a year. Inspirationally, it just wouldn't fit our mold. It's like flexing a muscle. It's like going to the gym and working out. I love working with different artists and being able to channel my energy into a different type of music than we could pull off with Boys Like Girls.
TWIST: Totally! Thanks for chatting with us!
Paul: Thank you!