Boston-bound AJR grows up with its fans

A decade ago, AJR broke globally through a SpongeBob sample and a giddy chant of “And we’ll dance until we’re dumb in the dark.” As AJR grew, listeners came to expect loads of bubbly, bright indie pop from the band — made up of brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met. Then, last year, while making fifth album, “The Maybe Man,” their dad got sick and passed away.

“We got pretty insecure about (writing) while we were making the album,” Jack told the Herald. “Our fans have certain expectations of us and our sound.”

But instead of burying their emotions, the brothers laid everything out on “The Maybe Man.” The album has loads of that bubbly, bright pop stuff and plenty of dark, introspective moments (it’s no coincidence the guys love the Beach Boys). Six months after the album’s release, AJR are set to play its biggest tour ever, which includes April 4 and Aug. 3 stops at TD Garden.

“Now we’re writing songs about death and the loss of family,” Jack said. “That stuff is not as fun to jump around to. But at the end of the day, the lesson we keep learning is that our fans are growing with us. They’re not the same people they were five years ago when we made ‘Weak.’ They’re much more emotionally mature now. So, when we realized that we are growing at the same time as our fans, anything that feels genuine to us will feel genuine to them too.”

All this growth — artistic, emotional, professional — has come at a natural pace, which is very unnatural in the music business. As elementary and middle school kids, the three brothers started by busking (and tap dancing!) in New York City parks. Eventually, their talent for writing catchy originals in their Manhattan living room and the internet took over, pushing AJR to level up every year or two.

“Social media really helped us,” Ryan told the Herald. “But a lot of our social media success has come from being lucky. ‘World’s Smallest Violin’ is our biggest TikTok song. We did nothing to make that song a hit. That was the anime community that embraced it and then it blew up and became a number one song on Instagram. We just watched it happen. We just wrote the song, that’s all we did.”

Of course, writing the song is 99% of the work.

With “The Maybe Man,” that work has taken on a more dynamic and nuanced nature. At times, the LP is painfully, heartbreakingly autobiographical. Single “God is Really Real,” released on the day their dad died last July, begins with the lyrics: “My dad can’t get out of bed/There’s something in his lungs/I think that’s what the doctor said.” It’s unflinching and totally un-SpongeBob.

“We made a really difficult vow that we would write a lot of immediate songs,” Ryan said. “On past albums, if we went through a breakup or something, we would write a song about it two years later with hindsight. This was, our dad got sick and we wrote ‘God is Really Real’ the next day.”

“We said to each other, ‘This is what we have to do right now. This is the album we have to make,’” Ryan concluded.

AJR will make more happy songs for happy moments. But as the group prepares to play the biggest stages it’s ever played, as it rehearses for a tour with lasers and CGI and spectacle, AJR will take the full catalog of human emotions on the road, from songs about fans dancing until they’re dumb to mourning your biggest fan.

For tickets and details, visit

Source link


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *