Why Don’t We are currently one of the biggest boybands in the world, and following the release of their debut album ‘8 Letters’ in 2018, and the extensive worldwide tour that followed in 2019, the American five-piece are ready to re-introduce themselves to listeners in an exciting and more defined way.
‘Fallin’’ is the first glimpse of what is to come, and hears them tackling an instrument heavy production that interpolates a drum sample of Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’ along with a pulsating guitar riff that is reminiscent of recent 5 Seconds Of Summer material. It’s undeniably the groups strongest release yet, and really captures their individual growth in artistry over the past few years. It’s mature, captivating and genuinely a whole lot of fun.
Steering towards their forthcoming sophomore studio album, Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Daniel Seavey, Jack Avery and Zach Herron are all self conscious of building on that growth, and highlighting who they really are as musicians, which is a lot more than just vocalists.
I recently chatted to Why Don’t We about taking full creative control behind ‘Fallin’’ and this new chapter, how they embraced instrumentation in a way that they haven’t before, and reflect on their worldwide tour last year. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Fallin’’ is an energetic self-penned and self-produced anthem. So can you guys explain how this song creatively came together? Was it a quick song to come together?
JONAH MARAIS: We were just chilling in the studio working on a different song that day that ended up on the album as well, and Daniel had a melody pop into his head on the way to the studio, so he was like “boys, we need to work on this, it’s crazy!”. So me, Daniel and Corbyn worked on it for an hour, and then we had the song. It was a pretty magical moment, and I feel like it really kicks open the door of this album. It’s really what we needed to come back with as it’s our strongest song.
TB: So it seemed like it was a pretty quick song to come together then, was it the quickest from the whole album process?
JM: By far!
DANIEL SEAVEY: There are songs on the album that we wrote on tour 2-3 years ago and have just come back from being finished up. It usually does take us some time to perfect the song, but this one was a gift from god that just dropped into our heads.
JM: It was also the last one to come from the album!
CORBYN BESSON: So when we wrote it, it was a double whammy, as we just finished writing what we felt like was our comeback song, our hit, and we also finished the album at the same time, so it was this crazy combination of both. It honestly felt like a sign!
TB: A bit of a mic drop moment, isn’t it?
DS: Yeah! You know, the whole album is very diverse in sounds. There are a lot of different rhythms happening and inspirations for each song, and ’Fallin’’ really bridged the gap of all the songs. So when that one came about it really felt like it would define the rest of the album for us.
TB: Is the drum beat in ‘Fallin’’ a Kanye West Sample from ‘Black Skinhead’?
JM: Yeah, it is that sample! When we were writing it we thought it would sound crazy with the type of drums from ‘Black Skinhead’, and it fit so well! So in our wildest dreams we would just use the sample from that song, but then Kanye and Daft Punk were actually gracious enough to clear us using it. So that felt so cool and validating that they heard it and cleared the sample for us to use!
What else sonically inspired the light and shade production that this song inhabits?
DS: I had been listening to BØRNS for a while, so I was really inspired by him while we were in the studio, as well as Post Malone obviously. But I was specifically listening to ‘Electric Love’ from BØRNS around the time we made ‘Fallin’’, and it kinda has the same drum pocket, and I was like, “damn, we need to do a song like this!”. I just kept imagining it live, and how mammoth it would be.
I was also listening to Post Malone a lot too, and I just love his verby, spacey sound which is so soothing. It’s kinda got this edge to it too. I think listening to those two artists really just connected the vision in my head.
TB: Last time we spoke, you did say that you wanted to head towards a more instrument heavy sound, and this song even gave me a little 5SOS feel to it. So when you’ve been in the studio working on this next album, were you consciously aware of using more instruments?
JM: Yeah totally! When we can come back and tour again after the pandemic we will definitely be performing with instruments, which I think will bring a really energetic level to the show.
CB: And the whole album is very much more focused on the instrumentation. It’s very tailored around that. There’s a lot of electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and there’s drums. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to play it live like we did in the studio, which is going to be really fun and a total shift in the look and feel for us.
TB: I love that you’re bringing that instrumentation side of your artistry into your art more! Because Daniel, I was talking to MAX a few weeks ago and he mentioned that you recorded some cello on ‘There Is A God’ for him which is so cool.
DS: Yeah, Max is such a nice guy! He texted me kinda right before the pandemic and was just like “Hey, if you wanna come over here is my address, I’d love for you to play Cello on my song”. I was like 10 minutes from his house so I was like “dude, I got you!”. I went over and we just knocked it out. He’s genius, and his whole album is nuts!
TB: I think it’s genuinely so exciting to hear you guys talk about adapting your sound with instruments as they have been there in the past and you’ve done a bit on the live stage, but it’s going to be really interesting to see you bring it to life even more now.
DS: In the past it just felt like we were under pressure and had to fit the mould of what the world was used to seeing, and kinda what we thought would just work. I think we kinda hit this point, and our fans even hit this point where they made it clear to us that they just wanna see us being us. At the end of the day, we love music past just singing. We all play instruments, so it became this question of “why are we not playing instruments?”.
TB: There’s a song on your debut album ‘8 Letters’ called ‘Falling’ which explores a similar theme. What would you say is the growth between that song and this one?
DS: Well we wrote this song *laughs*.
CB: And we lost the “g” from this song. It just fell off *laughs*.
JM: We were in such a different place as artists back when we did ‘8 Letters’. We had just signed to Atlantic, it was our first album with the record label, and it was such a different process. It was great at the time as we got to go in and work with some of the best writers and producers in the industry and really pick their brains. And we got to write songs in a really professional setting for the first time, which was really cool. And then over the years we’ve just been touring on that music, and that album took us around the world which was insane. And as Daniel was saying before, over the break we were asking “who is the band we really wanna be”. A lot of self reflection, down time and time out of the spotlight allowed us to think clear minded, not be jaded, or be influenced by any outside opinion. We wanted to be like; “this is the music we wanna make and we’re gonna make it”, and here we are.
TB: I love chatting to artists about what I called “portal songs” which is a song from your previous releases that feels like the segue into the next era, and inspired the lyrical or sonical direction. So what song would you say is the portal song that inspired this next chapter for you?
DS: That’s such a good question because when I think of our old music it really is such a seperate thing to me. I mean for anyone, I think 3-4 years is a long time, and you really do feel like a different person after that.
I mean we even put snippets of songs up on our Instagram 2 years go and people are picking them up and asking whether they’re going to be on the album or not, and I’m like “woah”, even 2 years ago seems like a lifetime ago. So to think about a song off that album that bridged the gap to this record is actually really hard.
JM: I don’t know if there is one that we’ve ever put out that you can even compare to the songs on this record. I will say though, when we played ‘What Am I’ live, we were doing it with instruments, and that felt really genuine to us and was genuinely the highlight every night for us. So that may have inspired the switch up.
DS: It was weird because I remember the time when we were considering the idea of playing ‘What Am I’ live with instruments and it was so nerve racking because for some reason it felt like people wouldn’t accept that we were a boyband, and now really wanted to become a band. But man, actually seeing how the fans ate it up was exactly what we hoped would happen.
TB: Why did you guys feel like they wouldn’t be accepting?
DS: I think there are a few reasons, but it’s mostly just our insecurities, and as artists you just have to search for your own validation. And then in this industry, pop music is really tough because you constantly feel like you have to fit this mould of a certain group, and we felt like we had to fit the boyband mould to really have our voices be heard. To a big extent they were heard. We love the music we created at the time, and I don’t want to discredit that, but at the end of the day it felt like there was this half of us that wasn’t being shown to the world, but it will be now.
JM: We had this chat with Shawn Mendes and it really stuck with all of us. He was like, “you should go do all the promo around the world, and do all this hard work to then go on stage and do what you absolutely love doing every single night in your heart. That is true artistry”, and we were like “yeah, that is what we need to be doing”. I remember that conversation being a bit of a turning point for us.
TB: Last year included a lot of touring that saw you jumping continents and playing to thousands and thousands of fans. So what was one of the funniest, craziest, or weirdest experience you had on the road?
JM: Last time we were in Australia was pretty insane, it was Corbyn’s 21st birthday last time we were there, so we were going out every night.
DS: We did like four nights in a row of going out!
JM: Australian’s sure know how to party!
CB: I got maybe about 7 hours of sleep that whole week. There was a point that I really didn’t know if I was living anymore, or if I was just a program that was walking *laughs*. We actually played on a little barge in the middle of Sydney Harbour on my birthday, and they brought me out a cake and everything, and it was one of those legendary moments that I will tell my grandkids about one day.
TB: You’ve recently teamed up with Head Count to help encourage people and especially your fans to vote with the initiative, Why Don’t We Vote. I know for young people they can feel like their voice doesn’t matter, and that their one vote is obsolete. So for anyone reading this from America, why is it so important more than ever before to speak up?
JM: I mean, this year in America is probably one of the most important elections that we will ever have. There’s a lot up for debate, and there are a lot of world issues that are being talked about. The way that I sort of feel about it is that the youth is the future of America, and of any country, and I think it’s really important that our voices are heard in whatever way that means. I just know that the youth are really good at beginning change, accepting change and pushing for change, especially in nowadays. I think there’s something to be said about young voices, and it’s really important for everybody who can vote to go out and vote for whoever they feel will impact their life, their family, and their community in the best way possible. Every vote does count, and if you don’t vote, then your vote doesn’t count.
‘Fallin’’ is out now!