Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop-shop for all things pop on Billboard’s weekly charts. In addition, you can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop.
Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor, digital, Katie Atkinson, every week on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes. (Click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).
On this week’s show, Why Don’t We swung by the Billboard LA office! The five-member boy band formed almost exactly two years ago, and since then, they’ve released a fast-paced five EPs, all of which have hit the Billboard charts. But now it’s time for their first full-length album: 8 Letters is due Aug. 31.
“We put out tons of content for fans, because with this new generation, content is key,” Jonah Marais told the Pop Shop. “They just want tons of music to listen to and videos to see. The first year we were a band, we dropped five EPs, so we’d just go into the studio — or, actually, we’d have our producer and writer come to our house. And for like a week, we’d just knock out an EP and put it out. So it was like bang, bang, bang, knocking all this stuff out. Then we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Yo, I think it’s time to really go in and put out our debut album.'”
Daniel Seavey promises that those fans who have been sending “where’s the album?” memes to the guys over the past couple of years will be very happy come the end of the month. “Fans, they always taunt us online about, ‘Where’s the album?’ … But I’m telling you guys: It’s worth the wait. And that’s gonna be the difference, is that we really did take the time with this music to make it the best it could be.”
Why Don’t We could have kept releasing EPs or streaming singles, but the guys thought it was especially important to make a statement with their debut album. “It’s a step in an artist’s career to put out a debut album,” Corbyn Besson says. “So many people come out with singles for the first however long of their career, and then you always look forward to their debut album. When’s the album coming? When’s that collection of musical artwork coming? So we really wanted to almost move into a new phase of who Why Don’t We is. We’ve been doing all these EPs, but now with this elevated quality of our music, let’s even put more music out at once and really start this whole album thing.”
Listen to the podcast above to hear each of the guys name albums that are especially important to them, from The Beatles and Michael Jackson to Frank Ocean and Jaden Smith.
Even though the album doesn’t drop until Aug. 31, fans have already gotten a few tastes of 8 Letters. “Hooked,” “Talk” and the title track are all out now, and have very cinematic videos to match. The guys have a lot of input when it comes to their videos, thanks to their team trusting their opinions.
“We have a cool relationship with our label and management where it’s not them telling us, ‘This is what you’re doing,'” Jack Avery says. “They’ll come with a lot of opportunities for us and say, ‘You can work with this director’ or ‘You can work with this producer,’ and they really leave it up to us to say if we like it or not and what we would change about it.”
Their most recent video, for “8 Letters,” was just released on Monday. Watch it below:
Next up for the guys: They offered a few hints about their upcoming performance on the Today Summer Concert Series on Labor Day (Sept. 3), plus they’re touring throughout Asia and Europe. Unfortunately, the guys were forced to reschedule a few of their Asian dates, due to Corbyn’s emergency throat surgery, but when we spoke with them, they couldn’t believe they had the opportunity to travel the world for a living.
“Any of our friends or family growing up, if they’re talking about going to Asia or Europe, it would have to be this extravagant vacation,” Jonah says. “And the fact that this is what we do for a job, it doesn’t even feel like a job. We get to go sing and play music and be in these amazing places.”
Also on the show: Keith and Katie talk about chart moves for Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Khalid and Normani and 5 Seconds of Summer, plus new music from Ariana Grande and Janet Jackson and the tragic death of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
Listen above and click here to subscribe/rate the Pop Shop Podcast on iTunes.