From Sia to Simon & Garfunkel, check out the brothers' biggest songwriting influences.
AJR will bestow fans with an early stocking stuffer later this week, as their five-song "6foot1" EP will be released on Dec. 20. After being endorsed on Twitter by Sia and championed by S-Curve Records head Steve Greenberg, the three-piece will have a new batch of songs to accompany the single "I'm Ready," which has logged 360,000 views on YouTube in less than two months.
"[The EP] really expands upon our sound," says AJR's Ryan Met. "We like to think of 'I'm Ready' as the center of our sound, and the EP goes all the way to our folky side with a song like 'Growing Old on Bleecker Street,' and then there's a song called 'Woody Allen' with hip-hop and electronic influences. We're really excited to share this with our fans."
The trio of brothers that comprises AJR may be young -- Adam Met is 23, Ryan is 19 and Jack is 16 -- but they draw from a wide variety of influences spanning five decades. Check out AJR's five favorite songwriting artists, in the latest edition of Pop Shop's ongoing "Gimme Five" series.
Adam: "They're one of our huge inspirations. They're very true to themselves, and it seems like from their personalities that they're very honest in their music. It seems like the subject of their music comes from reality, and we're very much inspired by that -- every song, we write ourselves, so we like to think that honesty factor comes through in our music as well."
Ryan: "Also, their songwriting combines Queen and some of the music of the 80's with contemporary production, and that's what we like to do a lot with the music of the 50's and 60's. And Nate [Ruess] is obviously a great singer and songwriter."
2. Beach Boys
Ryan: "If you listen to an album like 'Pet Sounds,' it's really sophisticated and complex musically. Some of the chords are crazy! And yet, it's all very hummable and accessible and timeless. I find that so impressive, and that's why the Beach Boys are probably my favorite band."
Adam: "She actually helped us get our start. About a year ago, she found us on Twitter, re-tweeted one of our videos, and met us for lunch. She introduced us to a lot of the people in the industry we're working with now. In terms of her music, she writes more alternative stuff for herself, but she also has the capability to write for Top 40 artists. Her ability to know her audience when she's writing a song is really incredible."
4. Kanye West
Jack: "His producing and songwriting combined are so unbelievably innovative. He's one of the most creative artists we've ever heard. I heard an interview with him recently, about how he comes up with ideas for specific songs. He doesn't think about instruments as much as conveying a specific theme or memory -- a party, or a meal. That's actually something we've recently started doing."
Ryan: "I think Kanye West has re-defined what modern hip-hop is, and it's always interesting to see other rappers follow in his footsteps. When he did 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,' suddenly hip-hop became more theatrical. He's leading the genre."
5. Simon & Garfunkel
Adam: "We grew up listening to them, as one of the first bands we were introduced to through our parents. We learned how to harmonize from listening to Simon & Garfunkel… I really like the simplicity of their songs, even though so many have sophisticated messages. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' was one of their biggest hits, and you'd never expect that to be a hit. It's just a testament to the songwriting ability."
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