When The Chronicle spoke with Tennessee natives, Hot Chelle Rae, it was evident how unique and down-to-earth the four band members seemed. Everything from their name to their sound is one-of-a-kind. With a surprising array of influences from Sheryl Crow to Muse, the foursome clearly knows how to put on a show. They expressed how grateful they are for the opportunity to be doing what they love, and how excited they are to be touring with Third Eye Blind. The future certainly holds only bigger and better things for the catchy tunes these guys keep delivering.
The Chronicle: How did you guys first start out as a band?
Ryan Follese: Nash Overstreet, my guitar player and I, started this about five years ago. We started writing songs together and eventually wrote so many songs that we needed to find a bass player and a drummer. Nash grew up with the bass player (Ian Keaggy) and the drummer is my brother (Jamie Follese). After Nash and I started playing together for a certain amount of time, the half kind of became a whole. What used to be called “Miracle Drug” is now called Hot Chelle Rae.
The Chronicle: So how did you come up with the name, Hot Chelle Rae?
RF: The name is kind of the weirdest story. There was actually a girl named Chelle Rae, on MySpace of all Web sites, and she was stealing the identity of another girl. And, she was stealing all these models’ pictures and in these models’ pictures she was hanging out with Pete Wentz, Snoop Dogg, etc. We didn’t have anything going for us at the time, so we were kind of like “Hey, you like our music, so would you mind giving our demo to somebody?” It turns out that she wasn’t who she said she was. And, we used her name in the band name.
The Chronicle: So, who has influenced your band’s sound?
RF: I think we have a pretty long list of modern influences and a pretty long list of classics. Obviously, the Beatles, Queen, the greats and Michael Jackson and stuff like that. Currently, we like a lot of stuff. We like everything from Muse, we love Muse actually–probably one of the band’s favorites. Sheryl Crow, everyone from Pete Yorn to Pete Wentz. It’s kind of all over the place.
The Chronicle: Any fun or interesting memories from the road?
RF: Well, there’s lots of fun ones. We love to play pranks in our band. We especially like to joke with the bass player (Keaggy) a lot. And as far as crazy stuff goes, our first show at the Roxy in Los Angeles, we walked into a room full of half naked women because there was a heavy metal video shoot going on. Then, we walked up the stairs to the green room and there was Ron Jeremy at the top of the stairs in the green room, and then right after the show our bass player got offered cocaine. So, I would say it was a complete Roxy experience. Did not take the cocaine. Let’s let that be known.
The Chronicle: What is your favorite song to perform live?
RF: I think I have two. I like to perform “I Like to Dance” a whole lot. Just the energy of that song live is just really, really fun to perform. And then I really like the song that’s going to be on our record, it’s called “Bushes.” It is probably my favorite song to perform.
The Chronicle: How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
RF: Our music has evolved in a lot of ways. Like our influences, we kind of started out all over the place. Nash and I consider ourselves song-writers before anything. So it is a good thing and a bad thing. You can kind of write whatever music you feel like writing. Being in a band, you gotta have an identity. And it started out just us writing different styles of music. And then eventually it evolved to us going, “We have written 60 songs here. What do we like to play? What is our favorite thing to do?” And it evolved in the sense that we honed in on what we actually love to perform.
The Chronicle: What has been your biggest challenge as a band and how did you overcome it?
RF: I’d say the original biggest challenge was finding a bass player that would actually stay with the band. But, as far as big challenges, I’d say the biggest challenge in the music business is getting turned down by everyone. All the time. Or being told to your face that your music is not original or being told to your face that you are not going to make it and that it is a stupid idea to pursue a career that is a dead end.
The Chronicle: How has it been traveling with Third Eye Blind?
RF: We’ll see. We’ve only played with them once. But, I imagine from that first show’s experience that it is going to be absolute madness. It was crazy. We played Mississippi State. I have been to enough colleges to know that it is fun. The party is awesome. It was incredible. It was like a show, but it was also like a humongous party.
The Chronicle: Have you learned anything from Third Eye Blind?
RF: I’ve learned that Stephen Jenkins (Third Eye Blind frontman) is an amazing frontman. And as far as in my life, Third Eye Blind has such a direct influence on us in that we are all ’90s kids. They have had a huge influence on us. They were pop music to me in the ’90s.