Honesty is key. And that's exactly what Christofer Drew of Never Shout Never is giving us. In this interview, you might learn a few things about the new teen sensation that you didn't expect. Or maybe you didn't expect this much openness. Below, Christofer lets us in on why he's trying to reinvent himself, his creepy zombie fans, his stint with psychedelics, and a whole lot more. His new record - What is Love - is officially available starting today.
So, what's next for you? You've got a tour coming up, I hear. And then you've got the Alternative Press Tour, or is that this one coming up?
Christofer: We're doing a little headlining tour with a couple friends from around here. We're doing it just really stripped down and acoustic. And then we have February off and we getting ready for the Alternative Press Tour.
And that's going to be huge for you.
Christofer: We're kinda going all out for this. We reinvented ourselves a little bit. I mean, I've been doing Never Shout Never since I was 15 or 16, and it hasn't always been the best music ever. I think I'm beginning to understand that as I grow older. I tried to reinvent myself with this record. Like, we're taking a couple people for a string section and a horn section. We're trying to do some real music, a little more rootsy, bluesy rock-n-roll. Elvis, Beach Boys, The Beatles. You know, try to keep real classic.
What what brought on this motivation?
Christofer: I've always listened to The Beatles. I grew up on that stuff. I was into pop music, just silly cutesy little pop songs about girls. That's what I've always written about. And now I'm figuring out more things and more things are going wrong in my life. It's been a little unnatural progression this year because I've been touring non-stop. Seeing so many different influences. We're taking it a little more seriously so we can experiment a little more.
What do you mean by unnatural?
Christofer: Like a year ago, I didn't understand music too much. I just liked playing songs. I had a couple go-to chords and I would write catchy things that would get stuck in people's heads. You play those songs so much and you realize the improvements you can make, and you realize what you want to be playing every night on tour instead of playing things that before you started touring, you never realized that you'd be playing those every night for the rest of your life [laughs]. So I sort of understand what I like to play and I want to play in the future.
Here's what I find really interesting about you. I kid you not - I haven't seen this since I was like 11 and liked The Backstreet Boys: fans freaking out like they do for you. I was blown away by how fanatical your fanbase can be. I'm curious how you really feel about that. It's gotta be really cool on one end but then also really odd and overwhelming.
Christofer: I love me fans to death but at the same time, they're a lot younger than me. I have things to say that they might not understand. It's kind of overwhelming because they sometimes don't understand where I come from. It's kinda stressful to not being able to relate to my fans all the way. If they only knew that I was this weird, smelly guy they wouldn't like me as much. A lot of it is age. I'm growing a mustache and stopped wearing clothes that are new and cool. I'm over that whole image scene. It's kinda scary that a lot of fans base their fandom on the image.
Do you have any particular goals that you've set for yourself? Or ideally, where would you like to be in the next year or two that would make you content with your career?
Christofer: I love writing songs. I have about 40 songs to record right now. I want to be able to talk our label in letting me record a million songs and putting them out. I wanna be taken seriously – my expression. It's hard for older people to take it seriously, and I understand that from the fanbase I've already established. After this record, I want people to take things seriously that I have to say. I have a lot views that I want to get across in my music just because growing up so fast in the scene made me realize a lot of things. I think my only goal is to be taken seriously as an artist and not just a weird Myspace goober. I guess that's my only goal, to win over a couple people that want to hate it really bad but might get it with this record.
Well that's something that really comes with time. I also find it fascinating how quickly you became popular. It was partly incredible and partly scary, to be honest. Do you remember the time of CD's? Or was stuff like [digital] Myspace music what really got engraved in your mind?
Christofer: I guess I never grew up with the whole Myspace Music thing, but it just seemed to work for me. I had nothing really to do. I dropped out of high school when I was 16 to do my thing and saw that if I put up a new picture every day or put up a new blog every day that I would get more hits. So I just kept doing it. And eventually it just started growing. What the heck is going on? [Laughs]. So I just kept at it. At that point, I didn't really care who was listening to it, you know? It was just that people were listening to it. It grew really strangely and peculiarly and really overwhelming.
Do you think that if you could go back, you'd make different decisions? Like, pick a different name?
Christofer: Oh yeah. I don't like the name Never Shout Never. I've had it since I was 15. And it's really immature sounding. My management and I try so hard to make it mature looking, like the font on the records, but it's still such a battle to get away from the 13 and 14-year-old looking name. It's really sad, but you've just gotta go with the flow and hope that things can grow.
Tell me about when you were first starting out. Is there a specific memory or two that you have where you were say, staring at your computer screen and realized, oh shit, this is going to be a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be?
Christofer: When I got my first iTunes check. I was working like three jobs. I was a lifeguard. I was a janitor at my dad's work. I worked at this place called Gelato Primo, it was this ice cream place. I put myself on iTunes through Tunecore, just like demos and stuff. And then I got a check in the mail for what I would make in a month working those three jobs and I was like, holy shit, this is real. I started touring and playing little churches and anything we could get our hands on. We'd do all our booking through Myspace. When I was about 16 and a half, I was like, this is for real now. After we toured for a bit, we got management and then it became the real deal.
That sounds like a dream come true for so many people.
Christofer: Yeah. I don't remember much because there was so much information thrown at me, and I don't have the best brain capacity [laughs]. In one ear and out the other.
Do you remember your first crazy fan? I know you like to call [your fans] zombies, which, by the way, I think is hilarious.
Christofer: They are strange 12 and 13 year old creatures. I guess my first crazy fan experience was somebody was getting really crazy on my Myspace. They would comment every 30 minutes and leave this huge comment about if they ever meet me, they were going to kidnap me and shit. I saw them at a show, and they came up to me. And they were really creepy. That's probably the creepiest thing that's ever happened to me.
My roommate just goes, “That was me.”[Laughs]
Christofer: [Laughs] I was kinda was like, whatever. People can be creepy but I'm creepy too so I get it.
Is it hard for you to find girls you like? Like, do you feel like you want to meet girls who don't know who you are?
Christofer: I don't know. Girls are tough! I've pretty much had the same girlfriend up until recently. I haven't really tried to date again just because there is so much going on, but girls are weird. I just want to find a girl that's as weird as me and then we can be weird together. That's my dream – just to find a really strange, weird girl that's attractive and cool. [Laughs]
So tell me about this bidding war? It's so hard for bands to sign to labels and feel comfortable in this big corporate structure. It's a constant topic of conversation. So talk to me about signing to Warner Bros.
Christofer: I started early on when we were getting offers from small indie labels. I always was against signing up until it started getting crazy, major label offers. I was like, dude, let's stay independent. We can release whatever we want, whenever we want. It's just better than way. Universal and Warner Bros. were both pretty intense about it. I was kinda freaked out like, why do these guys want my music?! It was scary at first. And then you started throwing in all these big numbers, and I had to think hard. I went in my room for awhile and talked to my mom about it. I was still opposed to signing, but I felt like it was the best for the future. You can only go so far with Myspace, you know? My manager was like, you'll eventually run out of kids on the Internet to reach. Especially if you are looking for an older fanbase, then you need to sign with somebody that can shop you into that older fanbase.
I went with Warner Bros. because they weren't going to push a radio single and then call it good. That's how Universal usually does their shit. Big single and push it as hard as they can and if it does well, they'll push another single. We went with Warner because it was more of a career label. If this first album bombs, they'll still put out another album. I found that a lot more my style. I'm not in it for the money and all that crazy stuff. I just wanna write songs and put them out and have people listen to them as long as I can. Hopefully that's ten albums deep. That's my goal. I felt that with Universal, if this record doesn't work out, then you're done. I hated that. It scared the crap out of me. We felt Warner Bros was the best just to grow naturally.
If there is anything that I've learned being around music now, it's to fear the all-mighty label. But I think most people can agree that there is some necessity to it. But tell me about your parents. If I told mine I was dropping out of high school, they would've yelled at me for hours.
Christofer: When I dropped out, my parents kicked me out of the house at first. It was really scary because I was living at friends' houses. I was working those jobs. My dad stopped talking to me all together. And then I started touring. When I came back from first tour, my parents just wanted to hear about it. They were really pumped up. They became really supportive.
My parents just got a divorce and my mom's living in my apartment with me. That's an adventure. We just drink wine all day.
And she can make you dinner.
Christofer: Exactly, she makes killer lasagna. All about it. They were really sketched out a first. They had no idea what was going to happen. It was definitely a huge risk. I hated high school, I hated everything, and I just wanted something to be happy about. Something to keep me going. I was always really troubled. I was always the weird stoner kid that never came to school. I'm from a small town. But now they get it, and now they are super pumped up.
Do you parents see the fan side to it too?
Christofer: Yeah, my mom is constantly online. She's like, Chris, see this and this?! Ah, I don't want to hear about that! I just want to watch TV and eat pizza.
So your mom posts on AbsolutePunk, right?
Christofer: Probably not. I would never direct her there because everyone hates me there.
People can be bitter sometimes, myself included.
Christofer: I wish I could be bitter. I wish I could just do that, but I can't, unfortunately.
I mean, if you ever wanted to just start shit, you could do it. [Laughs]
Christofer: You're funny. No no, I'm not into the shit-talking. You can talk shit on every band. No band is perfect. Except The Beatles.
Are The Beatles your favorite band?
Christofer: You know, they're The Beatles. They're everybody's favorite band. They were the perfect band. They started out writing the best pop songs they could ever make and then they invented trippy music.
And they did a lot of LSD.
Christofer: Oh yeah, that's what it's all about. LSD has changed my music as well. I did that once and ever since then, music has been completely difference.
Are you serious or are you kidding with me?
Christofer: Straight up, dude. I've always been the stoner kid. Ever since I was 15 or 16, I've been smoking weed every day. And then I tried it. When I was recording this last record, it changed my entire perspective on music.
I'm a bit surprised you're admitting this to me. What about your fans? With great power comes great responsibility. Do you ever think about that?
Christofer: I told my fans I was experimenting with psychedelics in a blog or something. I'm done now. It was a weird phase I went through. But it's all good. I'm going to keep to my weed and my cigarettes. That stuff's not healthy for you at all. It literally deteriorates your brain. If you do it once or twice, you'll be OK, but any more than that and you'll turn into a vegetable.
And that wouldn't be good. Vegetables are good to eat.
Christofer: Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys. He started doing LSD every day and just lost it. He was trying so hard to make trippy music and not be a sugar-pop band anymore. It's really sad. If you read an interview with him, he's just a wreck.
You can't try too hard, you know?
Christofer: Yeah, you're just gotta let the natural progression.
Let's throw the ball to you. If you want to change people's minds, what do you want to tell them?
Christofer: I'm trying to make music. I'm not trying to go with any scene. I'm not going to try too hard to persuade anyone. I'm going to follow my heart and hope things come out of it. If people don't like it, then that's fine. If people are hating on you, you're doing something right. Maybe give the new album a chance and if you like it, awesome.
"I think my only goal is to be taken seriously as an artist and not just a weird Myspace goober"
This definitely made me see him in a different light. I admit to tapping my feet while listening to What Is Love.
he definitely came off as if he was going for cred when he "admitted" doing LSD. I wouldn't even really call it an admission, it was almost as if he wanted to throw that piece of information in there, and was just going to jump at the first chance he got.