The Wanted - Redefining What Boy Band Means
All-male singing groups -- better known by the sometimes disparaging moniker "Boy Bands" -- are having a renaissance.
I believe Justin Bieber reignited teen girls' passion for pop music, something One Direction and The Wanted are now capitalizing on. The former debuted atop the Billboard 200 charts last month, and now The Wanted aims to replicate their countrymen's success with the April 24 debut of their first American EP, Gold Forever.
To further help them integrate with American culture (their hit song, Glad You Came, has already been covered on Glee), The Wanted will perform on tonight's American Idol results show. In anticipation of that, I caught up with Tom, Max, Siva, Jay and Nathan during a recent iHeartRadio performance in NYC to talk about breaking into America, why they don't see boy band as a dirty word and when it's OK to steal from fans.
Insider.com: How have you been enjoying America?
Tom: It's been unbelievable.
Tom: Everyone has been so welcoming. Full open arms. We thought it was going to be a massive uphill struggle to just have our song heard over here, but the radio has taken to us and the people have been so nice. And the fans are amazing. We've been working pretty hard, as you can see the bags are kicking in right now.
Siva: The wrinkles. I have to moisturize a bit more in the morning [laughs].
Insider: Historically, British acts have struggled to break in America. Did you come here ready to go door-to-door, performing your single for people?
Max: Absolutely. To be fair, we went straight in doing a small tour in little clubs, which is great – then we trekked around to every epic city we could possibly think of and hit up their radio stations to prove we could play live [laughs]. We think it's important people know that and thankfully America has taken to the song really well. We're having an amazing time, we just want it to continue.
Insider: How important do you think being covered on Glee was for your profile in America?
Jay: I think all those sort of TV hits really helps people connect to what they've been hearing on the radio. To say, "Oh, that's that boy band." We were in the Top 10 after Ellen and then Glee pushed us over the top. Made people hit up YouTube and find it.
Insider: You seem to embrace the term "boy band" while most other acts have shied away from it in the past.
In Unison: Yea.
Tom: I think we're redefining it a little bit though. In England, people have said that. Even guys. It's pretty unheard of for guys to like boy bands, but we've done it because we make good music. We don't dance but we're having a good time.
Siva: We're not cheesy. We don't go in for all that.
Insider: America has seemed very receptive -- is it true that you all pretty much got mauled while filming a segment for MTV's Spring Break?
Max: It was insane.
Jay: The craziest thing ever.
Insider: Was that the first moment where you realized America wanted The Wanted?
Max: Absolutely. So many boy bands have killed it at home and tried to break in America but it just doesn't translate. And I don't know why. I can't put my finger on it. But I think we've just caught at the right moment, when British acts are doing so well. It's been lovely but surprising.
Insider: Is there a healthy competition with One Direction?
Jay: Yea, absolutely. I think having two boy bands always spurs on the other. Musically, we're happy where we are and they're smashing their market as well, so I think it always helps to have another band with you. I'm just happy it’s another British boy band [laughs].
Siva: We don't dance. Americans will dance.
Insider: Was there ever an attempt to introduce choreography into your repertoire?
Tom: When the group first started, that was the idea.
Jay: Brian Friedman came on, but…
Tom: We tried three days of dancing and we were just terrible.
Siva: We still can't dance.
Tom: It was awful.
Insider: So this boy band resurgence won't include the matchy-matchy costumes that N'Sync and Backstreet Boys embraced in the early 00's?
Max: I think the record labels quickly realized that we are five strong personalities and if they tried to crowbar us into doing that, it would be harder for everyone – including them.
Siva: It's funny you say that about the clothes, because Jay is wearing a complimentary T-shirt that we got from the hotel.
Jay: We're in New York! [ed note: he's wearing a graphic I Heart NY tee]
Tom: And [my shirt] is from a fan here.
Jay: I got my hat off a fan.
Insider: When you say "off a fan," do you mean you've already started stealing from the crowd?
Jay: [laughs] Yea, could you imagine. I'm mugging my fans.
Tom: Give me your purse!
Insider: Have you noticed any difference between American fans and British fans?
Max: You've got crackin' teeth! [laughs]
Tom: American fans are very optimistic. In England, if a fan was waiting outside for six hours, she'd be furious. "I've been waiting outside for six hours!!!!" But in America, it's like, "I've been waiting outside for six hours, this is amazing!!!!!" [laughs]
Max: "I've lost four fingers in the cold – I love it!" [laughs]
Insider: Right now there is a line of 200 girls outside waiting to get in -- has the reality that people are willing to wait for hours to see you guys sunk in?
Jay: That is odd. It's something if you think about too much, you'll go crazy. But we put out videos every week, so we get in their heads. They literally know everything about us and in that moment, the least you can do is stop and spend time with them.
Tom: We always try to do that.
Jay: It feels very good – as many negatives as there are about being a boy band, that's the positive. The fanbase is like nothing I ever expected a fan to be.
Gold Forever is now available for pre-order.