CALM regular writer James Nock talked to Fabian Manzano on the eve of Boyce Avenue’s 2016 ‘Be Somebody’ European Tour about a love of music, their rise to success and the brothers’ new LP ‘Road Less Traveled’, an album about not giving up on your dreams and feeling good…
Nothing comes handed to you on a plate and like many bands Boyce Avenue have got to where they are by working their way from the bottom up. It can be easy for the cynic to assume the band were an industry construct, but they are actually an asset the mainstream industry failed to hook in. Boyce Avenue started as an independent entity, tried it with a major label but made it big as an independent, playing in small circuit venues and adopting social media to fight their musical corner.
It’s been a fight well fought, seeing them rise from a few views on YouTube to a Guinness World Record breaking 2.3 billion hits and counting, becoming the biggest independent band in the world. “We earned our stripes playing to twenty people and had some really hard shows. We’ve had to fund every show and tour ourselves. We never quit and kept doing it,” Fabian says with pride. The brothers went from bedroom jammers to garage banders, to toilet venue travellers to multimillion selling international artists.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Fabian is one of three brothers making up Boyce Avenue, along with his musically passionate siblings Alejandro (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano) and Daniel (Bass, Backing Vocals) who established the singer song writing roots of Boyce Avenue.
Hailing from Sarasota, south west Florida, just off Highway 75, the brothers set out their band goals at a young age, learning their trade through covering their favourite bands and artists. This is a learning tool that they have embraced today to run alongside their original music writing, celebrating their peers’ work as fans and also to enjoy others’ music. Influences range from pop to alternative rock music: John Meyer, Dave Matthews Band, Oasis, Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Circa Survive.
They started uploading videos of themselves playing covers on social media and the viewing hits and likes started to mount. Then they snowballed. “Covers are a great method of discovery. We have no shame in doing covers. If anybody is a musician, I feel like in order to become a better musician you have to go out there and learn some of your favourite songs. You have to learn songs from other artists that you respect and appreciate and in that process of learning their songs and studying what they did and how they wrote that song you become a better musician,” Fabian explains.
Notifications soon came in congratulating the band on their first million hits, then a second and so on, the counter clicked on and on. Soon they became the second largest band on YouTube, higher than Lady Ga Ga, Keane, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé but just behind Maroon 5, for now.
Cool parents gave the brothers a foundation in pure vocals, a love of acoustic and rock guitar and melody driven music. On family road trips their parents played Lionel Richie, James Taylor, Journey, soft rock and a variety of troubadours from the 60s and 70s. Each brother found their own niche, their own genres that would build and evolve to influence their musicianship.
As social media developed it truly became the band’s major networking tool, a tool that enabled the band to gain a wider audience. YouTube was their preferred medium but other networking formats followed. Early on the band found that video gave them greater platform to express their creativity, not only musically but visually, taking time to plan and story board content, to get the optimum use of the equipment they had and secure the band’s visual identity.
A good example of the band’s spontaneous and organic creativity can be seen in their cover of the Game Of Thrones opening credits theme. Alejandro had the idea to test their low light efficient Sony A7S cameras and hung period lighting to set a foreboding but warm atmosphere. The band have shown that they not only express themselves musically but also in cinematography.
Their new album ‘Road Less Traveled’, throws out some uplifting positive vibes. It’s a feel good long player that shares and drives to give others a little bit of a lift in the right direction. Peppered with solid traditional song writing, the album is a manifestation of the hard graft the band has put in to achieve their success and predominantly spreads a positive ‘Don’t Quit’ vibe that is close to Fabian’s heart. He pinpoints the songs Family, Given Up and Be Somebody as a few of his favourite amid a set of songs of which he and the brothers are immensely proud.
Writing duties were shared on the tracks Be Somebody and Imperfect Me with writing team Espionage. Working with Espionage was a collaboration the band felt gave them new direction and ideas. “That was a cool experience. It was cool and unique for us. Espionage co-wrote Hey Soul Sister. We love Hey Soul Sister and the band Train.”
This tour showcases the Manzano brothers’ new music, their own brand of electric and acoustic rock. “This tour is big for us,” states Fabian. “It will be full of energy and crowd engagement. Live, we bring more of a rock vibe. Now that we have the new record there are a bunch of new songs we’re playing. We’re also going to do an Oasis medley. They’re in my top five favourite bands. I think the shows are pretty sold out too. We are looking forward to this European tour. It means a lot to us as we have more music to bring.”
To stay true to their roots, the Be Somebody shows will have an acoustic slot sandwiched between their electrically charged rock sections, a slot that will stay faithful to how the Avenue’s fans originally discovered them, by viewing the brothers playing stripped down acoustic covers posted online.
Boyce Avenue are:
Alejandro (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano)
Daniel (Bass, Backing Vocals)
Fabian (Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Jason Burrows (Touring Drummer)
Check out boyceavenue.com for European tour dates, ending in London on March 20th.
Live Photo Credit: Nicholas Stone Schearer
Band images care of Wilful Publicity
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