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Hotstar


12:00 AM Monday, 12/17/07 |   |

Not only has Boys Like Girls found success through the Internet, but fame has trickled down to connect fans and frontman Martin Johnson’s favorite striped Gap sweater.

“I think it’s funny. It kind of tells me when a MySpace [page] gets dedicated to my sweater that I wear all the time, that it’s time to go clothes shopping,” Johnson told Pollstar. “I mean, they definitely know how to give me fashion tips.

“There was actually a [page] dedicated to a scarf that I was wearing all the time on an All-American Rejects tour named ‘Martin’s scarf has got to go.’ So I retired the scarf; I took the hint.” Boys Like Girls’ agent, Matt Galle of Ellis Industries, told Pollstar that the connection the four guys – Johnson, bassist Bryan Donahue, drummer John Keefe and lead guitarist Paul DiGiovanni – have with their fans is one thing that sets them apart from other bands that have used online buzz to their advantage.

“They connect and they interact with their fans very well – online, on MySpace and on other sites,” Galle said. “People just like them; fans like bands that comment back to them and they can feel like they’re not intangible.” Manager Bret Disend of Ozone Entertainment, whom the band met through a friend and started working with two years ago, agrees.

“Kids reacted to the music and then when they played live, kids realized that it was real, it was from the heart with these guys,” Disend told Pollstar. “Their fans appreciate that they hang out after the shows and try to meet and greet with as many kids as possible.”

Johnson said interacting with their fans is “huge” for the band.

“It’s amazing to meet people face to face, people that respect your music. I think it’s cool to know that they have a connection with something that you created.”

Johnson, who’s said he’s been singing since he could talk and putting together bands since he was in third grade, explained that Boys Like Girls got to where they are today thanks to “a crazy chain of events.”

Donahue and Keefe have played music off and on with Johnson for five years in various bands but when the two met DiGiovanni, they knew they’d found the missing link.

“They called me up and said, ‘We’ve met the absolute perfect kid and we want to put this back together.’ So that was how Boys Like Girls was born,” Johnson said. “Our very first practice, we clicked immediately. And we basically haven’t been home since.”

As soon as the guys started playing together in the fall of 2005, they posted a few songs online. Their blend of emo/pop punk climbed the song charts on purevolume.com and within a couple of weeks had caught the attention of Galle and producer Matt Squire, whom Galle manages.

After contacting the band, Galle made a trip to Boston to hear Boys Like Girls play in their rehearsal space.

“I could tell that they had a lot of potential and that they were going to do something good. We just needed to get them out on the road to start touring and getting in front of as many people as possible, playing shows back to back to back,” he said.

“So we started putting them on tours, early 2006, just any tours we could get them on. They jumped on anything, like the smallest tour, first of five on the bill, just to get out there and play in front of people. And we just kept it going and … things just started snowballing and going good for them.” Around the same time the band was putting together a demo to post online, a label deal was being worked out with Columbia.

Disend knew a friend at Columbia who Johnson said “was our in, our guy who believed in the project when it was totally in diapers.”

Johnson said Columbia was “really open to whatever we wanted to do. It’s always been a friendship and a mutual understanding of the project and what Boys Like Girls is.”

Before signing with Red Ink/Columbia and hooking up with their agent and manager, the band had played only three shows, which consisted of four-song sets.

In between constant touring supporting a range of acts from A Thorn for Every Heart to the All-American Rejects, they made it into the studio to record their self-titled debut album, which Squire produced and which was released August 2006.

This year, Boys Like Girls took on their first headlining dates.

“Headlining on tour just feels so unreal; I feel like after we play, some other huge band’s going to come on,” Johnson said. “[But] It’s our show. It’s incredible. … It’s cool to have the whole stage and the production and setup. It feels really good.”

Galle described their live show as “very energetic.”

“They feed off the crowd’s energy,” Galle said. “They love touring. They’re really good about it; they’re road warriors. They don’t get worn down. They know they’ve got to keep at it to grow and keep expanding their fan base.”

Boys Like Girls isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon. The band has a bunch of radio shows in the U.S. on the books for December, followed by a U.K. & European support gig for Plain White T’s and Cartel in January. In February they’re off to Australia for the Soundwave Festival and then they’re back on the road to support Avril Lavigne through the beginning of May.

Next it’s back to Japan and the U.K. for festivals and then headlining shows late summer through fall while squeezing in some studio time to record a new album.


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