Q&A: Why Don't We
Why Don’t We has only been a thing for about a year but the group has already released three EPs (a fourth, Invitation, is out Sept. 27) as well as a bunch of singles and videos – including “These Girls,” which came out at the end of August.
The group currently has 1.8 million Instagram followers and between 873,000 and 1.4 million followers each.
Why Don’t We’s Jonah Marais, 19; Corbyn Besson, 18; Daniel Seavey, 18; Jack Avery, 18; and Zach Herron, 16 sat down to chat with iHeartRadio.ca during a recent visit to Montreal.
They agreed that Canadian talent has inspired them – Seavey sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" on American Idol; Herron's cover of Shawn Mendes' "Stitches" got millions of views; and they all admit to being fans of Drake and Justin Bieber.
Did you all know at an early age that music was what you were going to do?
Daniel: “I think I was 3 years old when I stole my sister’s toy piano on Christmas, went into a different room and just started playing on it. It was like learning a language without even knowing you learned a language. I just understood the piano and ever since then I went with music. I played on the street, went on American Idol, and then got with these guys… and it’s been magic ever since.”
Jonah: “I always knew I wanted to do something big in my life. Music was always a huge part of my life growing up — my dad’s a musician. I actually wanted to be a baseball player, a major league player, growing up. But then all of a sudden music started taking off, I started taking it seriously, and here we are.”
Corbyn: “My mom played harp for 40 years. She’s a big harpist. And my dad grew up in New Orleans so Louisiana music… music was always just a part of the home. I grew up listening to Michael Jackson and picked up a guitar at age 11 or 12 and from there, the singing came along.”
Zach: “My dad and mom don’t really sing. I guess my grandpa did. He tells me stories every once in awhile about how he was in a band with his brothers, I think, actually. But nothing big or anything. They used to go to bars and jam out, stuff like that. I just got into music somehow, I don’t really know how. I used to be in choir but I didn’t really like the [choral singing]. It wasn’t me. I always wanted to get the solos because I like to sing and I didn’t like doing all that type of stuff. I branched out of that and just kind of starting putting out little singing videos up on Instagram, doing covers. Some of them would go big. I did a little 'Stitches' cover and it ended getting like 14 million views, which is insane. I was asked to sing at school and these girls recorded it.”
Jack: “I started off playing piano since first grade because my dad is a really good pianist. He kind of just like threw me into it but I loved it. All the way to sixth grade and then I picked up the guitar around 12 years only and just started jamming out, fell in love with guitar. Then I started singing.”
Is it even possible to describe in a few words what this experience is like?
Jonah: “Surreal. It’s like everything that I’ve always wanted is happening now and I just feel so blessed.”
Corbyn: “It’s one of those things that you think will never happen to you, and then once it happens to you, you’re like, ‘wait, is it happening to me?’”
Daniel: “We’re working so hard. All of us have been working for the last year now just harder than we ever have as a group. We don’t even realize what’s really happening here and then we go online and see what our fans are doing for us and it’s just mind-blowing. You don’t realize what’s happening.”
You mentioned hard work. A lot of people are quick to dismiss boy bands but truth is that you work your asses off.
Corbyn: "Thank you!"
Daniel: “We have our own thing going. We’re just doing the music we love. We’re not trying to fit any ‘boy band’ term. We’re just a group of guys who love to make music that they love to listen to.”
Jonah: “If people want to call us a boy band, call us a boy band but we’re going to do it our way.”
Corbyn: “Our sound isn’t something you’d expect from a ‘boy band.’ It’s got this urban undertone, the beats hit hard, there’s a lot of bass.”
Zach: “When people say ‘boy band’ people always think… they always get a bad impression of boy bands and I don’t know why.
Are you students of boy bands, though? Do you have favourites?
Daniel: “I definitely look up to the Beatles a lot. Their songwriting, the amount of songs they wrote, and how good every song was… and just seeing how they stayed together the way they did. Yeah, we definitely take notes on the Beatles.”
Jonah: “Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of the Beatles.”
Zach: “N Sync. I like *NSync. I still listen to *NSync.”
Corbyn: “Yeah, *NSync is lit.”
Talk about how important social media and the internet has been to you.
Daniel: “When we were doing our solo stuff the only way we got our stuff out was online. When we came together we had all these fan bases of our own and they just came together. It’s crazy what it can do.”
Jonah: “I think people online, their attention span is a lot shorter these days so we’ve kind of tapped into that and we’re just dropping stuff and feeding into that. It’s worked so well for us.”
Corbyn: “It’s really cool to read the comments on Instagram. Some of our fans will write novels of these crazy super sweet things on our Instagram pages. It’s really, really cool. The internet is a crazy but awesome place.”
Jonah: “It’s also cool to send a direct message to someone, thanking them. Once in awhile if I’m up at night and can’t sleep I’ll say like ‘thanks so much for everything you’ve done for us’ and stuff and it’s cool to see their reaction to that.”
Your videos look like a lot of fun. Do you have fun making them?
Jonah: “Video days are the best days.”
Zach: “Video shoots… I’m always around food. It’s always the worst food for you.”
Daniel: “I don’t know how they end up getting a dope video because we’re just idiots the whole time. They’re like, ‘do this’ and we’re like ‘sorry dude that ain’t me.’ They make us look good. We love doing videos, they’re so fun.”
Zach: “Getting make-up is the best part.”
Listen to the new single "Invitation" below: