Inside D.C. entertainment

Hot Chelle Rae makes teens squeal at the 9:30 Club

April 12, 2012 - 04:12 PM
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Hot Chelle Rae's appearance at the 9:30 Club Wednesday evening brightened up this overcast week, and fans were waiting outside in chilly temperatures long before the night fell. I arrived at 3:30 p.m. for my interview and there were already 30 fans in line, all of whom were under 18. Which high school teacher allowed their early dismissal for a pop concert, and why they didn’t work at my school?

Hot Chelle Rae's lead singer, Ryan Follese, dressed the role of a rock star sprinkled with American Apparel. When we reached the green room, we joined the rest of the band.

The members of the band have been playing music for most of their lives. They are all from musical families and have writers and performers as parents.

“We were all surrounded by production, writing, performing, and studios, just every aspect of music growing up, and by the time we were in high school, it was like we had already gone to college for it,” guitarist and vocalist Nash Overstreet said.

Because their parents were all in the business, they only received support from them.

“It’s a real job to them, it was never ‘drop this and go to college’,” Follese said. Overstreet added, “We were very fortunate to have parents that really supported us and were excited by us going into music.”

“I’ve had fans’ mom get mad at me for encouraging their child to play the drums … multiple times,” drummer Jamie Follese said.

So even though they’ve had supportive families, their fans' families may not be as enthusiastic about a career in music.

The original band name was Miracle Drug, which eventually morphed into  Hot Chelle Rae by way of an interesting backstory.

Some bands, like Hot Chelle Rae's opening act, Action Item, find their name in a movie. Some, like Evanescence, find it in the dictionary. Hot Chelle Rae based their name off that of a girl who stalked them on their MySpace page. The girl, they later found out, was actually fake.

“You would not believe what guys will believe or put up with if a girl is pretty in pictures, whether it’s the real girl or not,” Overstreet said. “She had stolen some model’s pictures and was way too adamant [about becoming friends] with us. For some reason we believed it."

"But, what a ring to the name," he said. "It’s really unique and identifies to our music only so when you look it up on the internet, it’s exclusive and we like that.”

“When you Google Miracle Drug you can get a U2 reference or some magical cure for AIDS,” he said.

Their first album, Lovesick Electric, introduced HCR to the world with a slightly grungier sound than you'd expect if you're familiar with Whatever. But that evolution seemed organic to them.

“I think we realized at one point that we were allowed to do music that we liked, that we listened to, and that we’re really feeling more," Overstreet said.

HCR most recently toured with Taylor Swift, an old friend of theirs, which took them to Australia.

“It was great,” Ryan Follese said. “We have a large and loyal fanbase in Australia, and she has one everywhere. It was perfect. Our fans are her fans and vice-versa.”

“It was one of the very few times that we were a supporting act on a tour that I didn’t really see any fans that were only there for Taylor,” Overstreet said. “I felt like everyone I saw was also a fan of ours. We were right in the middle of having the 'I Like it Like That'  [their second single] peak. It was perfect timing.”

While in Australia, they went five-times platinum with their two singles off of Whatever. They are scheduled to tour in Australia and New Zealand in the fall.

The band shows no plans of slowing down. They are in the middle of their tour and plan to do a couple of radio shows, a few summer festivals, and a month-long tour with Demi Lovato, with whom they collaborated on a song from Whatever.

After the show, the band signed autographs for all that bought merchandise for an hour, which was past most of the fans’ bedtimes. In some cases, the merchandise was unconventional. One girl had her cell phone signed while another had her Pikachu shirt signed. I should have asked if it’s ever awkward to yank on a 14-year-old girl’s shirt and scribble all over it.

Parents crowded the side of the table trying to snag a quick picture of their daughters with the boys, but the autograph assembly line didn’t allow enough time for some. The band treated each and every fan with respect and even hugged those that asked or were freaking out. These guys are rock stars with class.

After all of their upcoming tours, they still don’t plan to take any time off.

“There are some bands that take a year off after a record and touring cycle to hang out and chill and we never want to do that,” Overstreet said. “If you go away, it goes away. They don’t forget about you but you’re not constantly in their mind and we want to be a presence in the industry.”

With the turnout Wednesday night and the energy in the 9:30 club, I don’t think Hot Chelle Rae will be leaving the minds of their fans anytime soon.


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