In Real Life On Their Debut Single “Eyes Closed” & Boy Bands: Interview
2017 has seen something of a resurgence in boy bands with newcomers like PrettyMuch, Why Don’t We and Forever In Your Mind making waves. You can now add In Real Life to that list. Comprised of the final five contestants on ABC’s pragmatically-titled Boy Band, the quintet has already been signed to Hollywood Records and released their debut single. “Eyes Closed” soared straight into the top 10 on iTunes, which isn’t that surprising considering how catchy it is.
I recently sat down with Sergio Calderon, Michael Conor, Chance Perez, Andrew Ramos and Brady Tutton to talk about their rising hit and its imminent music video, which features rooftop antics against the LA skyline. They spoke about their journey on the show and explained what sets them apart from other boy bands. In Real Life also revealed that they have a holiday single on the way and opened up about their favorite artists. Get to know them a little better in our Q&A below.
Did you always want to be in a boy band?
Chance: I was in show choir when I was in high school and, in my sophomore year, emails got sent out to schools looking for people to be in a boy band. I auditioned and I got in. I wasn’t originally looking for a career in music or to be in a boy band, but it just kind of happened. I was in that for 18 months, but it didn’t work out.
Sergio: When I started out, I didn’t picture myself being in a boy band, but I got the opportunity to be in a boy band show, so I thought about it because I didn’t know if I really wanted to, but I was like, “No I have to do it. It’s the first big step in my career.” So I just went for it and you know now I’m in this awesome band with four other guys that I’ve been very close to since the beginning.
Brady: It’s not like I grew up and I was like, “I want to be in a boy band some day.” You know at first I was a little skeptical because it’s a competition show. But meeting all the guys, they’re all super talented, you know? That was the first impression I got in the auditions, I was like, “Everyone is as good as me, if not better.” So I was like, “Wow. I need to be here. I need to be working with these guys. I need to be collaborating.”
Drew: I was just a kid on the subway, singing on the shuttle at Times Square and I eventually got a phone call from a manager asking I if I wanted to be in a boy band. I had wanted to be in it, because I had another opportunity similar to this and I participated in it and I didn’t make it, and I hadn’t been doing anything with my music. So, I went from performing solo and building myself as a musician and then getting the phone call, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I guess I would say I did want to be in a boy band.
Michael: I was just doing my thing, just releasing songs on SoundCloud. I’m a rapper. I wasn’t really like, “Oh I should be in a boy band.” It wasn’t exactly the number one goal of mine, but when I was presented the opportunity, just like Drew said, I just had to do it because it was essential for me to just take that big step in my career. At first I wasn’t sure how they were going to use me, but as I went further and further down the show, I realized what kind of impact I could have in a group and how well I actually did blend.
There’s a resurgence of boy bands with groups like PrettyMuch and Why Don’t We. Why do you think that is?
Chance: There was NSYNC, there was Backstreet Boys, and there was One Direction. One Direction is the one that modern people know and when they went away, there were no boy bands at all. So everyone was like, “Okay, there needs to be a new boy band.” So then, PrettyMuch came out, Why Don’t We, Forever In Your Mind, and then we came about. There are a lot of boy bands out there right now and I think that’s why because there were none after One Direction.
What sets In Real Life apart from the other new boy bands?
Brady: This boy band is really cool because going into the competition, we had a huge variety of people. The band we wound up with has a huge variety of people. We have a Spanish speaker, we have a rapper, Chance has this crazy high range, Drew’s got the craziest voice I’ve ever heard. So we all kind of bring a different thing to the table, and I think our music is going to sound a lot different than what you think of when you think of boy bands.
Have you started to gel as a group and develop a sound?
Sergio: I think that something that helped us a lot was the show obviously, and especially it being a show where every week it’s a different group. We all definitely got along very well from the beginning and then when it got to the point where we were at the top eight, that was the only week where nobody went home, so we were all with each other for another week. So I think that time was when we all got really close with each other, really understood who each of us was.
Drew: Another thing is, other competition shows only have one winner. On our show there were five and we all had the same goal. So there wasn’t really any strife between any of the contestants.
You mentioned One Direction earlier. Are they the blueprint or model for In Real Life?
Michael: I think that we relate a lot to One Direction, just in the sense that we were both formed on a show. I think it’s different because we’re actually, the purpose of our show was to make a boy band. There’s was more so an act and they didn’t even win, but I mean, look who’s laughing now.
Brady: The thing that sets our group apart is that we aren’t really following the traditional boy band blueprint. We’re kind of doing everything that we can do differently different.
Michael: I think we’re just trying to make good music and I think we have a lot of tools to make good music that people may not expect. So I think that at the end of the day, it’s not about, “We’ve got to be better than this band.” We’re all just making good music.
How are you going to bring your rapping into the group’s sound?
Michael: I’m sure boy bands have had rap features in the past. We don’t really need a rap feature since you have me, but that could be a use. I mean, it’s really whatever the vibe of the song is. It’s not like I’m just going to throw a verse on every track. I think that would be like, “Okay, dude. We get it you can rap.”
Sergio: The cool thing about Michael is that he can actually add a rap to any song. I’m not saying we have to do it for every song. But that’s the cool thing about him, he could like cope with any type of song that we’re going to put out.
How did you react when “Eyes Closed” went top 10 on iTunes?
Drew: I couldn’t sleep that day, I was up until like two in the morning. I noticed that it was at number 38 or something like that and even then I was freaking out. Then I woke up, and I think it was top 12. I just jumped out bed and started texting the guys.
When did you first hear “Eyes Closed”?
Drew: Justin Tranter was at the studio with us. It was the top 11 contestants. We all walked into the office and sat down, and they played it and immediately everyone just started vibing to it. We were all bumping our heads, and the chorus dropped and everybody stood up. Everybody was really vibing to it. Justin Tranter is an amazing writer and we really look forward to working with him in the future.
Brady: I feel like what was going through my head and I feel like a lot of the guys’ heads is we felt like we were part of something really important, you know? We were listening to the song that could be playing in millions of people’s cars in a couple months, which is really, really cool.
Have you recorded anything else?
Michael: We were actually in the studio two days ago recording another song. We’re recording a holiday single for the holidays, obviously. In case there as any confusion as to what the holiday single is for.
Sergio: The cool thing about this song is that it’s an original song. It’s not a cover. So, we can’t wait to put that out.
Is there going to be a video for “Eyes Closed”?
Chance: We just finished with it yesterday. We spent all day filming and it’s gonna be really amazing. One of the things that we can tell you about it is that there’s a rooftop scene where we’re up there with some lights and skyscrapers, so you can look forward to that in the music video. And I don’t want to say too much more about it.
Brady: It’s really cool, though.
Did it all start sinking it when you were filming the video?
Drew: I walked up to Michael on the rooftop, and I looked at him and I’m like, “Yo, Michael,” and he’s like, “Yeah.” “We’re recording a music video in L.A. on a rooftop, bro.” That was super funny. He was like, “Yeah, we are, man.” Sometimes, we still do that. We walk up to each other and it’s like, “Yo, we’re in a band.”
Michael: It hasn’t set in yet, for sure. It’s crazy.
Are you going to relocate and all live in the same city?
Michael: We’re a band now. So, we’ve been living in a hotel for ten weeks in separate rooms. Now that we’re all together we should definitely live in the same place.
Chance: As Michael said, we’ve been working together for 10 weeks, and we’ve been in the same hotel, but we haven’t been together in the same house. And I think that’s something that’s really important and we’re gonna be doing that a couple of weeks down the road and get our own place together, and really start writing, and getting ready for an album. Because we are going to release an album, we just don’t have a release date yet. So, we are looking forward to writing it.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Chance: I love Jon Bellion.
Sergio: I really like “Attention.” Specifically, I love the base line. Charlie Puth is my idol. He can do anything from singing to songwriting to producing, to actually performing. I’ve always looked up to him, because he’s got a little bit of everything and I feel like as an artist, that’s very important.
Brady: I’m really into Daniel Caesar, he’s probably my favorite artist.
Drew: I really like “Teams” by Kalin White.
Michael: I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan, Logic fan.