It’s not every day that you go to meet a band at the Empire State Building’s 86th Floor observatory deck, but that’s exactly what happened when I and a select number of other journalists and photographers were invited to spend some time with Hot Chelle Rae on July 19, 2012. The Nashville-based pop/rock band was in New York City for a concert and to perform on NBC’s “Today” on July 20, 2012.
[UPDATE: Because of breaking news about the movie-theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, “Today” postponed televising Hot Chelle Rae’s performance until July 23, 2012.]
Hot Chelle Rae — lead singer Ryan Follesé, guitarist Nash Overstreet, drummer Jamie Follesé (Ryan’s younger brother) and bass player Ian Keaggy — all grew up in the music industry, since their fathers are well-known musicians and songwriters. The band is best known so far for the song “Tonight Tonight,” which was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. in 2011. Hot Chelle Rae has been steadily touring, including stints as opening acts for Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato. (Lovato has been juggling her 2012 North American tour with her duties as a judge on “The X Factor” U.S.) Here is what Hot Chelle Rae had to say during a brief press conference that the band had after posing for photos at the Empire State Building.
What’s it like touring with Demi Lovato? And why do you guys end up touring with all these attractive women like Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift and Cher Lloyd? [Says jokingly] Is it in your contract with your agent?
Overstreet: Why do you think? We do it on purpose!
Ryan Follesé: We only submit the good-looking ones. It’s awesome touring with [Demi Lovato]. It’s been really great. We have such a shared fan base. And it’s nice to be here in New York again. I’ll say that much.
Do you have any cool touring stories?
Overstreet: [He says jokingly] We play Sorry and Scrabble. Just edgy, cool games.
Jamie Follesé: Going out on Pacific Harbor with Taylor. That was probably one of the coolest things.
Who are your celebrity crushes?
Ryan Follesé: Besides the obvious?
Jamie Follesé: I’ve got a new one. Her name is Analeigh Tipton. She’s in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” I love you!
Overstreet: I want to get Demi and Taylor in one room and see them fight over all of our affections. And then all four of us will date the winner!
Ryan Follesé: I like that. I like the Olsen twins.
Do you feel protective about Taylor Swift’s love life? She’s rumored to be dating Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver).
Ryan Follesé: She is?
Ryan Follesé: It’s time to send some text messages!
Overstreet: Well that [Schwarzenegger] last name, so I’m kind of scared.
What’s your favorite Hot Chelle Rae song to perform?
Ryan Follesé: It kind of changes all the time, but I’d say in the spirit of being here for the “Today” show, I’d say “Tonight Tonight.”
What else can you say about touring with Demi Lovato?
Ryan Follesé: It’s awesome. She’s so down-to-earth. She’s so mature as a vocalist. We had the pleasure of doing a duet with her on our [“Whatever”] album. We have a song called “Why Don’t You Love Me.” We’ve worked with her before, and now being out on tour with her is a new side of it.
Do you think you’ll be on “The X Factor”?
Ryan Follesé: I’d love to!
Overstreet: I wish! We’re almost too busy to do anything but play shows. We’ve been bouncing. On the Demi tour, we’ve been from upstate New York all the way to Southern California. It’s been amazing crossing the country, seeing all of our fans, and all of our fans seeing us for the first time sometimes. It’s been a blast. We love it.
Since you’ve been so busy touring, how is that affecting your songwriting?
Ryan Follesé: There’s less of it.
Overstreet: Lots of “no sleep.”
Ryan Follesé: We do write songs on tour when we have time. These guys are always messing around with computers and putting tracks together. We’re always writing on headphones and stuff like that. We’re definitely trying our hardest to set aside time. We actually just recorded the first couple of singles of what will be our next album.
Are there any collaborations that you’re planning for your next album?
Ryan Follesé: We’re working on them. We’ve already put out feelers, and we’re already talking to people, but … it’s totally top-secret. It’s not set in stone, and I wouldn’t want to lie.
Overstreet: We’ve got some wish lists going on.
Since you’re friends with Miley Cyrus (who’s engaged to actor Liam Hemsworth), do you think you’ll perform at her wedding?
Overstreet: [He says jokingly] Yeah, we’re actually going to be the band for the wedding. We’ll make a movie around it. It’ll be great.
Ryan Follesé: Yeah, instead of writing songs, we’ll be practicing our ukulele. It’s going to be really amazing.
Overstreet: I played at a wedding a long time ago, and I never want to do it again.
You’re doing a headlining tour of Australia and New Zealand from mid-October to early November 2012. What are you most looking forward to on that Down Under tour? And what can you say about Cher Lloyd, who will be your opening act?
Overstreet: I think the coolest part about Australia is that we get to go back for the second time this year. It’s going to be our first headlining tour there. It’s been amazing. We’ve already got a bunch of tickets that have been swooped up left and right. And Cher Lloyd, we’ve wanted to work with and tour with for a really long time. And this is finally happening, so we’re really stoked about it.
Ryan Follesé: You get to play that full-length set, and instead of them just getting a taste of what you do, in our headlining set, they’ll get to know us a little bit more. It’s more intimate. We do acoustic breakdown sections. And we’re really, really candid on stage. It’s part of our show. We’re excited to finally share that with Australia.
Jamie Follesé: We get bring production for the first time anywhere.
Has Demi Lovato mentioned “The X Factor” to you at all?
Ryan Follesé: She hasn’t.
Overstreet: She hasn’t given us any inside scoop. I want the inside scoop, but I’ve got nothing. The only thing I’ve heard is that it’s a lot of fun and that Britney Spears is really nice and funny in person. You always wonder about somebody like Britney. Demi, we’ve toured with, but meeting Britney, she’s is like an icon. So to hear that she’s doing well and is cool and is comedic and having fun with it is really cool. But we have no inside secrets or anything.
What advice do you have for newer bands who are touring the U.S. for the first time?
Ryan Follesé: How long do you have?
Overstreet: Seven days in a week does not mean you can play seven shows in a week. You will die shortly if you try and do that. So space yourself out and pace your shows.
Keaggy: Stay in the band as long as you can.
Hot Chelle Rae has been very outspoken against bullying. Can you talk a little but about why this issue is so important to you?
Ryan Follesé: I think it’s because cyber-bullying is such a crazy, crazy extreme these days. I know that just us growing up in the era we grew up in, it was tough, and we definitely got bullied, but now, it’s so easy it hurt someone on the Internet because there’s Twitter and there’s Facebook — stuff that we didn’t even have [when we were younger]. High school was tough for all of us, and I can only imagine how tough it is these days.
What do you have to say to any bullies out there?
Overstreet: Stop. You’re going to have a bad time after high school, because it’s going to get real, and it’s not going to matter anymore.
Keaggy: Just know that the guys who are bullied end up in bands.
Overstreet: And with your girlfriends.
In 2011, Hot Chelle Rae won the American Music Award for Sprint New Artist of the Year. Where do you keep your American Music Award trophies?
Overstreet: It’s still at my manager’s house. I haven’t been home to get it.
Ryan Follesé: Mine is still in its box.
Overstreet: I don’t even know what that box looks like.
Keaggy: Mine is at a legitimate location sitting on a piano, right where it should be.
Jamie Follesé: The box is so nice. It’s a really cool piece by itself. I’ve got the award on my mantle, but the box hasn’t left my coffee table. It’s chillin’ there, taking up space.
We hear that a lot of entertainers give their awards to their manager, agents or parents.
Keaggy: This is my first [award]. They’re not getting it!
Where would you like to go in New York City that you haven’t been to yet?
Ryan Follesé: This [Empire State Building] is obviously beautiful. It’s the only sight we’ve seen. We have a show tonight and then tomorrow, we’re getting ready to rock on the “Today” show. All the focus is on that.
Did you see Empire State Building’s photo display of celebrities posing for pictures at the Empire State Building?
Ryan Follesé: Yeah, it’s cool.
Do you know if Hot Chelle Rae will be added to the gallery?
[A publicist nearby says, “Yes, they’ll be up there.”]
Be honest. Who’s the messiest guy in the band?
Ryan Follesé We’re all awful.
Overstreet: Well, actually, Ian’s bunk, whenever you go by there during the day, there’s, like, six bags that I’ve never seen before. There’s no possible way that you go to sleep at night in that bunk.
Keaggy: I put myself in my bunk during the day, so I can get to it. And then it’s not in everyone else’s way. It’s actually a courteous thing.
Overstreet: Ryan’s got groceries. There’s a lot of stuff everywhere.
Ian, who’s your celebrity crush?
Keaggy: Carrie Underwood and Charlize Theron. I’ve actually never really dated a true blonde.
What’s it like when you go back home to Nashville? Do people you know expect you to buy them rounds of drinks?
Overstreet: We’re too bad about that anyways. When we’re drinking, we always think it’s great to buy everyone rounds.
Jamie Follesé: [He says jokingly] Being 20 years old, I love to buy Coca-Cola.
Are you going to watch the Olympics this year?
Overstreet: When we can. Absolutely.
Jamie Follesé: If we ever watch TV again.
If you could do one Olympic sport, what would it be?
Ryan Follesé: International football.
Overstreet: Hockey. All day, every day.
For more info: Hot Chelle Rae website