Coup De Main spoke to HOT CHELLE RAE frontman RYAN FOLLESÉ earlier this week on the phone from Canandaigua, New York, about the band's upcoming return to New Zealand this October with special-guest CHER LLOYD, what it was like touring and co-writing 'Thug Story' with Taylor Swift, and the band's current dates with Demi Lovato.
"I think it's always really important for people to feel like they can connect with you. In this day and age it should always be an open book situation..."
COUP DE MAIN: Last time you were in New Zealand, you promised your fans at the Taylor Swift shows that the band would be back later this year. You made good on that promise! That's a rare thing to happen, especially in our country...
HOT CHELLE RAE - RYAN FOLLESÉ: You know what, we don't like to promise things in this band unless they're going to happen, I promise you that. It was definitely important to us to make a return trip - you don't go on tour out there just to play such a short set for so many people and not get to return to play something a little bit bigger.
CDM: Do you have any favourite memories from your last visit to New Zealand?
RYAN: I have a few! I think the second or third show we were in Auckland, that was the first time on that tour that the audience truthfully felt like it was ours. That was one of my favourite memories of the tour, that, and watching a really sweet yacht race down on the harbour and to meet such great fans and to see all the wonderful scenery there. That was one of my favourite moments of the tour, it really was.
CDM: This time round, if you get a day off to do anything you like, what would be at the top of your wish-list?
RYAN: I've heard that bungy-jumping is fairly popular, and I would like to do it. Not off the tower, I'd like to do it off the bridge. That would be a main thing I'd like to do, we're all about 'the rush' in this band.
CDM: What was it like touring with Taylor Swift?
RYAN: It was amazing - we were touring our album 'Whatever' and it's funny, because that is now the current single in New Zealand and Australia. It was great! She's a doll, we absolutely love her. I think that is definitely the most fun we've ever had on tour, and it just totally set us up to come back and play a longer set for people. We have never had more fun on tour, than we've had in New Zealand and Australia.
CDM: I'll be honest, I kept hoping that you'd come out with Taylor and perform 'Thug Story' together, since you co-wrote it with her...
RYAN: I'm so happy you know about that thing! Do you know how excited I am about this right now?! <laughs> I love that you know that!
CDM: What was it like writing the song with her?
RYAN: It was awesome, we kind of wrote it a little bit before, we got this idea together and then we sent her the idea and she was totally keen on it. She was like: "This is really cool, let's get in the studio." So we went to the studio together and started changing tons of lyrics and just feeling it out - that was when I knew, I knew after working with her right then that we were going to be friends. Our friendship just continued on, it was a very, very cool preview to what the future held and we didn't know that at the time. I bet now I could've called what would have happened between us, it's awesome that we ended up working together, it was a nice little glimpse into the future. We wrote the lyrics to apply to her. The very, very first idea that I came up with was: "I'm like eight-foot-four blonde hair to the floor, you shorties never thought I'd dreamed about rapping hardcore." That was the very, very beginning, and then we got into the studio and she was like: "No, I ain't got a gun, no I never really been in a club, still live with my parents, but I'm still a thug." That all just came out right away and as soon as it happened we were like 'wow this is going to happen really fast', the whole thing kind of went down in maybe less than an hour!
CDM: Back to the upcoming New Zealand 'Whatever' tour, what can fans expect from the set-list?
RYAN: For the set that we are going to put together for over there - we kind of got to make our debut when we were there last time, this trip is not about just having a party on-stage like we did last time - it's more about our fans getting to know us, because that's the other half of the band that they didn't get to know [last time]. It's really important, our personalities - all the guys in the band are very funny and charismatic and they're wonderful people. It's important to me that everyone gets to see who we are. That's kind of one of the main points, that, and we're going to be promoting 'Whatever' when we get over there, that's going to be the current single which we just shot, the entire video is going to be based all around our last tour that we did with Taylor and we'll most likely be playing a new song which is really cool.
CDM: Have you started working on a new album yet, or throwing around new song ideas?
RYAN: Yep, we're definitely throwing - actually going into the studio on July 7th in Vancouver to record four new tracks. That will be the beginning of what is going to be the next album.
CDM: How did Cher Lloyd become the support act on this tour?
RYAN: We actually tried to work out a feature with her on our first album but timing never worked out, we're big fans of hers, ever since we first saw her on 'The X-Factor' it was just always on our mind if we were going to go [tour] internationally it would be a great thing to have her be on the tour and we reached out to her and she was very, very excited and accepting of the offer. I think it's the perfect fit for the tour, I think it's going to be just the life that the party needs.
CDM: Do you have a favourite song of Cher's?
RYAN: Oh my gosh, 'Want U Back' is totally, everybody in my band's jam right now.
CDM: Last time you were in New Zealand it coincided with the release of the 'Honestly' music video. How did Ashley Benson (Hanna Marin on 'Pretty Little Liars') come to be in that?
RYAN: We just reached out to her and she was totally into the idea - it doesn't happen all the time when you reach out to somebody and they're excited about the idea, but she was into it, and that made all the difference. When someone just wants to be in your music video that makes it a whole different ball game, it's less of a coincidence.
CDM: And you guys are currently on tour with Demi Lovato, what's that been like so far?
RYAN: It's been great, we actually played last night at Mohegan Sun Arena, and it was definitely one of my favourite shows on the tour. It's been awesome, she's incredibly talented, we've had a blast watching her every night. We're only doing seventeen shows, I wish the tour was longer to be honest, but maybe in the future we'll get to do something else together.
CDM: Have you performed your duet 'Why Don't You Love Me' together live yet?
RYAN: We have not gotten to do that yet, we've done it once before, we did it in Nashville at a home show with her, but we have not done it with her yet [on this tour], but hopefully we will.
CDM: Maybe you guys can bring a Demi hologram with you to New Zealand...
RYAN: I think that sounds like the most genius idea I've heard in a while! <laughs>
CDM: Do you think it's more important to entertain while on-stage, or focus on your vocal performance?
RYAN: You've got to somehow balance it. It's really important to entertain, it really is, I mean that's why people come to see you, but they also come to see if you can sing. Especially in this day and age, not everybody can sing live. For me, it's trying to find a balance between the two and being able to mix them. It's very difficult to do that, but when we come back and do a full set I think you'll see that we kind of figured it out.
CDM: In 'I Like It Like That', New Boyz namecheck Miley Cyrus in the line "I'm just tryin' to chill with Miley at the hookah bar" - has Miley responded at all to that?
RYAN: No, she hasn't responded, but we know Miley very well - if she responded it would have been to our faces and not in public. She's essentially sort of a family friend and we know her fairly well, I've been friends with her and Brandi [Cyrus] since grade school. I would love a public response because I'm sure it would be hilarious, but we never got one.
CDM: Your dad Keith Follesé is quite a renowned songwriter - (co-wrote 'The Way You Love Me' by Faith Hill and 'Something Like That' by Tim McGraw) - has he ever given you any songwriting advice?
RYAN: He's given me great advice! It sucks because this analogy only really applies to America, but he told me that in baseball, Barry Bonds never gives up - he's the best hitter in the league, he gets home runs the whole time, but he doesn't hit them every time, one out of ten times he gets a home run, that's how songwriting is. You'll write a song, but you'll be lucky if one out of ten times you write a song it is amazing, and he was right, he was totally right. That's never, ever left me.
CDM: I was looking at the baby photos you guys have been sharing on the band's official Facebook page, is it important to you to share personal insights and let your fans into your world like that?
RYAN: I think it is, I think it's always really important for people to feel like they can connect with you. In this day and age it should always be an open book situation, with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Viddy... you name it, your life is sort of transparent. The mystery of the artist is something that the 70's made, but it's not the same these days, and I don't know... to me, I feel like letting your fans know about you is awesome.
CDM: Where do you draw the line with what you are happy to share and what you want to remain private?
RYAN: Hmmm good question... I don't know specifically where I draw the line, but you got to be... I guess you draw the line where you feel comfortable. If you don't want them to know something and you feel like it's going to affect you negatively, then you draw the line there. But for the most part I'm pretty much open, I pretty much share everything.
CDM: There's a lot of fashion-related posts on your Tumblr, could you ever see yourself designing a clothing-line one day?
RYAN: Someday that would be a dream, absolutely. I love clothes, I love the world of fashion, I'm really fascinated by it. It's something that's always been in the back of my mind, and if time, energy and money permits, I would absolutely love to design a line someday.
CDM: When asking Hot Chelle Rae fans to suggest some questions to ask you, we were sent a LOT of marriage proposals for you guys... do you have any tips for girls hoping to catch your eye?
RYAN: Be yourselves, be spunky, be spontaneous. Low-maintenance is always the biggest plus in the world... that, and as far as looks go, I don't have like a specific type. You can be any look with a great personality and a great ability to adapt and hang out - you can catch any of our eyes! For some reason we get a lot of marriage proposals, like legit! I don't know why. <laughs>
CDM: I've got a few questions from fans that I'm going to quickly go through now... do you find it weird touring with your little brother Jamie, does it affect your behaviour at all?
RYAN: For the better I think, it's really good to have him on the road. Apart from the fact that he's a badass drummer, I don't know that it would be this much fun, I'd probably miss him all the time, he's actually sitting next to me [right now] which makes this really, really funny. It's awesome, we're not those brothers that fight [all the time], we're the ones that do fight but have fun together.
CDM: If you weren't making music, what would you be doing instead?
RYAN: I would be getting Lasik [eye] surgery and probably be flying a plane. I've always loved planes and the Air Force and stuff like that, so if I wasn't so music-obsessed, that would be something I'd be interested in. Or blogging!
CDM: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
RYAN: I was eighteen-years-old, and I probably would have got one sooner but my parents... I wasn't allowed to.
CDM: What is something that you've always wanted to do, but have been too scared to do?
RYAN: What have I been too scared to do? That's a really good question but I don't have an answer. I've never really been too scared to do anything... I know that it's a lame answer. I won't scuba dive or surf. Does that qualify? Is that a good enough answer?
CDM: If you were stuck in an elevator for a day, who would you choose to accompany you and why?
RYAN: I gotta say I'd probably choose my brother, I'd choose him because we get along so well and that would be the only thing that would make it funny.
CDM: Lastly, do you have a message for your New Zealand fans?
RYAN: Yes! We are so looking forward to coming over there and playing these shows - thank you for making it so we can come back. Look out for the 'Whatever' video that we are getting ready to release, there is going to be a lot of footage of all the people that were at the Taylor Swift tour. Be ready! Because when we come over there it's going to be one awesome party and it's going to be a great show. We are so looking forward to playing!
Tickets are on sale now for HOT CHELLE RAE's Wellington and Auckland 'Whatever World Tour' dates - click HERE for more details.
HOT CHELLE RAE ‘WHATEVER WORLD TOUR 2012’ NEW ZEALAND TOUR DATES:
WELLINGTON - TSB ARENA - THURSDAY, 18 OCTOBER
AUCKLAND - VECTOR ARENA - SATURDAY, 20 OCTOBER