Its just past 3 a.m. Martin Johnson spent the day traveling, meeting fans, and living the life; granted by the pop-rock quartet he fronts. Boys Like Girls caught a 6 a.m., from their hometown of Boston – and were stuck in Philadelphia for the majority of the morning due to plane issues. Upon arriving in Avoca, the four were swept up by a Columbia Records rep and driven to The Woodlands – where I awaited with the rest of the 97 BHT staff for an interview/photo-op date.
But Johnson’s finished with media and other obligations for the night. Yet despite the 9 a.m. lobby call for a flight back to Beantown, the BLG lead singer is fidgeting through his iTunes playlist. At my suggestion, a Goo Goo Dolls live LP from a 2004 concert in Buffalo, NY (my hometown) is selected. Johnson skips through a couple tracks – Martin insists he “only wants to hear the hits.”
The comment is a microcosm of the singer. Call his group what you may, and categorize his music how you will, but one thing is for certain – Johnson is true to his art. We spend most of the time discussing and dissecting not just pop rock, but radio songs, and subsequent hits.
“(I) Love ‘Crush’,” Johnson admits of the debut single from American Idol runner-up David Archuleta. “It’s just a good radio song. He’s got a great voice.”
It isn’t often that you’ll meet an artist who genuinely enjoys the work of their peers. I suppose hanging out in an artist’s hotel room after last call with a few close friends isn’t all too much of an everyday occurrence either. Nonetheless, Johnson loves pop music. He thinks the latest Katy Perry song (“Hot N Cold”) is one of the top three tracks on radio. And Johnson insists that Metro Station’s second single, “Seventeen Forever” is a better song than “Shake It” – so much that he originally suggested to MS’s manager (who also heads up Boys Like Girls) that it should be the debut single.
“Yeah, I ended up being wrong on that one. But still,” says Johnson.
Of course, Boys Like Girls scored a few hits of their own. Johnson – even at this late hour – continuously flaunts his music cognoscitive. He compares the band’s success to that of fellow pop rockers All-American Rejects.
“’Great Escape’ was our ‘Dirty Little Secret’” explains Johnson. “It allowed us to have ‘Hero/Heroine’ and ‘Thunder’ – like ‘Move Along’ and ‘It Ends Tonight.’”
All in the room nod in agreement. Like AAR, Boys Like Girls roughed it on the Vans Warped Tour – one of the many concerts hit hard this summer by rising fuel prices.
“Bands that are starting out right now, it’s going to start to literally be impossible to tour,” the singer told me earlier. “When we did a 15 passenger and a trailer, we were just surviving barely on gas – hoping we could maybe get a hotel room for six people to share.”
Not the case anymore. Funny how Martin once worked in Hollister – listening to the type of music he’s now paid to perform for millions of fans across the world.
And he doesn’t even have to take care of the gas bill.