Poised to release "Crazy World" on Dec. 11, band talks album they dumped: "It was this angry, contrived electronic-pop hybrid"
Boys Like Girls released second album "Love Drunk" on Columbia three years ago. The project yielded several pop singles, including "Two Is Better Than One" featuring Taylor Swift. When the band came off the road in support of the disc, which bowed at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, there was a sense of urgency to return to the studio, prompted in part by the response to third single "Heart Heart Heartbreak."
"We went into the studio a little discouraged by our most recent single," singer Martin Johnson says over the phone between studio sessions in Los Angeles, where he now lives. "That was that wake-up-call moment about how much music is changing. That thing that we clung onto, that was so relevant in 2005 when we became a band [up] until 2010 when we finally went off the road from "Love Drunk," had kind of died. It was almost like the radio wanted a remixed version of the song rather than the actual song."
Boys Like Girls completed an entire album in the first half of 2010, only to realize it was disingenuous to the band. In the end, the group tossed the project and decided to take a break for a while. "It was this angry, contrived electronic-pop hybrid and it didn't really feel like Boys Like Girls," Johnson says. "It didn't feel like we were being honest to ourselves."
The other band members-Paul DiGiovanni, Morgan Dorr and John Keefe-went home to Boston while Johnson spent time in Nashville, writing with other musicians and accumulating demos that didn't have a specific purpose. In the fall of 2011, he began to realize that songwriting wasn't quite the same without the band and in October the members gathered at Johnson's L.A. home to begin transforming his demos into their third album, "Crazy World," due Dec. 11 on Columbia.
"We threw out the idea of having to cater to modern music," Johnson says. "What made the last record-the one that never came out-feel not right for Boys Like Girls is that we felt this massive pressure as a band that lived by the ups and downs of top 40 success. We threw out any preconceived notion that that was an issue. It was freeing."
For Columbia it's been important to reimagine Boys Like Girls with its new sound, which embraces pop-rock and country. The band released three tracks, including the disc's first single, "Be Your Everything," on the Crazy World EP in July, offering fans a first taste of its evolved sound. Columbia marketing manager Matthew Amoroso says the EP, in partnership with iTunes' Complete My Album program, helped spur momentum for the eventual album release.
"They have a long history of making hit records so we wanted to create awareness first and foremost," Amoroso says. "Let people know that Boys Like Girls have a new record coming. And we wanted to build the story as we took [the single] to top 40 radio in the fall, which is where we are now."
The label is focused on existing fans and new ones, generating prerelease buzz through a co-headlining tour with the All-American Rejects and a performance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (Nov. 9). "[The band has] grown up, their fans have certainly grown up, and they wanted to communicate that on the record," Amoroso says. "We wanted to engage [the fans] and show them-whether it's through the sound or our press photos or video-that the band has grown up."
As for the group, it's happy no matter what. "We wanted to do something really organic and true to us," Johnson says, "and not be concerned about how it was going to be received."