When the Why Don’t We guys — Corbyn Besson, Daniel Seavey, Zach Herron, Jack Avery, and Jonah Marais — set out to have careers as singers, they weren’t intending on being in a group. In fact, prior to pursuing music, none of them even knew one another. But after touring and performing at various events as solo acts, eventually they all got familiar with each other — and once the idea was brought to them that they should form a band, they were in right away.
“We all kind of have the same musical aspirations and look up to some similar people,” Besson tells Billboard. “And obviously we all love each other, we’re brothers. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we?'”
Like Benson hints, the band’s name spawns from their thoughts about being in a group together, which has since become a sort of mantra for the band in everything they do. The guys also used their name in their latest EP, Why Don’t We Just, which they released in early June just one day after revealing to fans that it was coming. Even with the short notice, though, Why Don’t We managed to top the iTunes pop albums chart on the day of the release, taking over Harry Styles’ self-titled debut for the No. 1 spot.
This is the kind of success the L.A.-based quintet has seen practically from the start, despite only forming last September. In the nine months since the group’s beginning, Why Don’t We has already garnered one million followers on Instagram and more than 37 million views on YouTube — before some of the group’s members even graduated high school. And now, they’re heading out on their 21-date Something Different tour, many of which are sold out.
If you have yet to catch the Why Don’t We fever, don’t write them off as just another boy band. The fresh-faced fivesome may look like the next One Direction, but they’re more than meets the eye — between the five of them, the guys can play 25 instruments. And because they started out as solo singers, as Marais explains, “I would say we connect more to the music of today, like Drake and stuff.”
“But if Boyz II Men comes on,” Besson adds with a laugh, “you’ll see us jamming.”
Before Why Don’t We kicks off their summer trek on July 11, Billboard chatted with all five guys about their practically instant success, why they are more than a “boy band,” and how this is only the beginning for the group. Check out what they had to say below.
Was it a pretty smooth transition from solo artists to being a group?
Seavey: I was on American Idol, and that was hard just trying to keep up with everybody and the music wasn’t really me. But when I met these guys, it was magic and it clicked. We all loved the same music – we all have some Drake and Kendrick in us, but also have some Justin Bieber, Jon Bellion and these different sides to us. It was just a lot more fun with these guys [Laughs].
Besson: We’ve all grown up around the country too, little different cultures and being raised up differently. We all kind of rub off on each other, in a way, to get into new music and new ideas.
What has it been like to watch your fan base grow at such a rapid pace?
Besson: It’s been absolutely insane, mind-blowing. It’s the craziest thing. I don’t think any one of us, when we started, thought we’d ever be in a position like this. So to be here and watching it all happen, and getting to experience it with not just these four guys, but the fans as well — it’s an amazing thing.
Seavey: And it only motivates us to go even harder — it’s only the beginning. We just want to keep going and improving on our sound and keep going, and our fans are helping with that.
What do you think it is about you guys that made fans catch on so quickly?
Avery: The fans really like seeing our own personalities, and then when it’s mixed together – we’re always funny, we’re always joking around and the fans really love that. It’s a good mix of things, the good vibes we always try to put out with our music.
Herron: We’re all spontaneous and we love adventures and we love creativity. So that’s also where the band name kind of clicked.
What would you say to someone who may think that you’re “just another boy band”?
Besson: I think our sound is a little bit different than what you’d expect from the term “boy band.” Our sound’s a little different and a little bit more urban-driven, R&B – but still has the pop influence.
Seavey: We’re just doing the music we love and doing the best we can with it.
You guys have said that you’ve taken some inspiration from Justin Bieber… is there anything you’ve learned from watching his success that’s helped you with your creation process?
Besson: For me, it was really cool to see his personal journey. Growing up as a kid in the spotlight, kind of losing his head a little bit, and getting back on track. I could kind of, in a way, learn from his mistakes. It was just really cool to see him find himself and come back from living in the fast lane a little bit too much.
Seavey: I think music-wise, not being afraid to take risks – he was always kind of pushing his sound, and that’s always pretty inspiring.
Marais: I went to see him at show in 2009 – seeing a 15-year-old perform in front of an entire stadium was really inspiring to me. That was a moment where I was like, “I want to do that.”
What do you want your fans as well as people who may not have heard of you guys yet to know about the future of Why Don’t We?
Seavey: You’ll never have to wait with us. We’re going to always be creating, always dropping content, always doing shows. We’re just going to keep working for the fans because they work so hard for us.
Marais: It’s crazy to see all the fans, and it’s cool to see them all support each other – it all feels like one big family.
Besson: We’re doing exactly what we wanted to do with our lives – we love doing what we do, we love the music. Come along for the journey.