Boyband brothers are boys-next-door

(From left) Toby, Riley and Connor of American pop-rock trio

If the idea of a wholesome boyband sounds like a joke, then you have not met the brothers from American pop-rock trio Before You Exit.

Not for them the wild parties and womanising associated with misbehaving boybands like English-Irish group The Wanted. "We're just normal, average teenage boys who want to make a difference and are obviously hoping to influence other people to do the right thing," said lead vocalist Riley McDonough, 17.

Indeed, Riley and his brothers Connor, 19, and Toby, 15, blithely come across as boys-next-door when visiting Singapore for the first time last weekend to perform at The Color Run in Sentosa, a non- competitive running event where they were the only music act.

Recounting their 20-hour flight here from Orlando, Florida, where they are based, the boys demonstrated childhood-type games that involve tickling each other or making up alliterative names that they played on the plane. "He was definitely a 'Cranky Crab'," said vocalist and guitarist Connor with a laugh, taking a jibe at Toby.

Their parents joined them on the trip and their mother, an investment adviser, was keenly snapping away on her digital camera during Life!'s 15-minute interview with the boys at the W Hotel Sentosa Cove.

Before You Exit was formed in 2007 by Connor, Connor's church friend Braiden Wood, who is the guitarist, and classmate Thomas Silvers, who was roped in as drummer. Riley and Toby joined later.

The band is fronted by the three brothers. Wood, Silvers and bassist Chris Ganoudis perform only during live performances.The brothers have a YouTube channel and produce their own videos.

A cover of fellow boyband One Direction's hit song What Makes You Beautiful has garnered more than seven million views. "YouTube enables you to reach out to all these fans even if you hadn't toured in all these countries yet, which is great," said vocalist-guitarist Toby.

 

Yet they were still overwhelmed by the big reception they received from fans in Manila when they performed at a concert and conducted a fan meet event in May.

The group released an album featuring the single, I Like That, earlier this year. They also have two EPs to their credit - Letting Go (2010) and A Short Story Long (2012). "That was probably the craziest fan experience that we had," Riley recalls of the Manila fan meet.

"We've never been to the Philippines before and it was just a meet-and-greet at a mall, but it was packed to the brim with more than 4,000 people."

"I felt really bad when we were there because these girls were dedicated and all they wanted to do was to touch you or get a high-five as you're being escorted through the crowds," added Toby.

"But the security will just slap their hands away, which was really funny."

Asked about the demographic of their fanbase, all the boys turn to look at one another unanimously and chime in unison: "Girls". "It ranges from five-year-olds to 20-plus-year-olds. About 20 per cent of the fans are over 20, so it's cool when you think about the fact that you're playing music for these people who are older than you," said Riley.

With such a young fanbase, do their parents lay down certain rules or establish lines that they should not cross when it comes to their behaviour or interaction with fans?"Our parents are supportive of whatever we do as long as we are not sending out bad messages to our fans," Riley said, recalling how his father, a doctor, used to build stages for them when they performed childhood plays in the neighbourhood.

Before You Exit are focusing all their efforts on their music for now, completing high school and college degrees via online courses. They have toured with pop punk band All Time Low in 2010 and 2011, and recently concluded a tour of America with Australian pop star Cody Simpson.

Despite what the band's name may suggest, they hope to have staying power in the entertainment industry. "Ten years later, I hope I wouldn't be exiting. I hope I'll be doing something like producing songs and making a bunch of videos," said Connor, referring to the band's motto - "Before you exit, make a difference".

They are working on their next album, which Connor admits is always "difficult, trying to make sure you have something that you haven't heard before". "In reality, there are only 12 notes in music, so that is the biggest challenge," he added.

In light of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber's recent bad behaviour, caught on camera peeing into a restaurant mop bucket, where would they pee if they really needed to and could not find a restroom in time?

"A mop bucket," said Riley with a straight face. He then quickly follows up: "Kidding, I'll probably grab a water bottle."

"And I'll find a bush," Toby chimes in.

The boys are "obviously not perfect", in their own words, but they do seem to be making a conscious effort to work towards it. "We definitely don't want to be cursing or be seen doing bad stuff. We don't do that generally," said Riley.


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