INTERVIEW: Nash Overstreet of Hot Chelle Rae

Whether or not you are a fan of Hot Chelle Rae, there is one thing you can’t deny – their songs are unbelievably catchy. The first single from their sophomore album Whatever, ‘Tonight Tonight’, hit double platinum, while the second single, ‘I Like It Like That’, recently hit platinum. Numbers certainly don’t lie.

The band consists of lead singer Ryan Follesé, guitarist Nash Overstreet, bassist Ian Keaggy, and drummer Jamie Follesé. The four-piece band has been paving their way up the charts since their formation in 2005, in addition to their rapidly growing fan base. Hot Chelle Rae doesn’t seem to be slowing down, as they already have a busy year lined up for them.

They are currently on their first headlining tour in support of their sophomore release, and we had the opportunity to chat with Nash Overstreet during their tour stop in Vancouver about the band’s direction, performing live, and hockey.
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asapmusicblog.ca: The first question is inspired by lead singer Ryan Follesé’s Twitter profile, since he wrote that he sings in the shower. What is your go-to song in the shower?

Nash Overstreet: If I was to shower at this moment, I would either ask all you guys to leave, or at least have to put the curtain up… but I am singing… a new T-Pain song that just came out off of his record. I think T-Pain is always fun to sing because you can fake the auto-tune thing, do a little warble thing. In a second, that would be my choice.

A: Getting more serious about things, Hot Chelle Rae’s debut album Lovesick Electric was released in 2009, and the new album, Whatever, was released last year. What would you say is the growth that you guys have had as band between those two years?

NO: I think there’s a lot of confidence, there’s a lot of comfort that we’ve gotten from really going out and touring all over the place, and kind of having bad shows and good shows. Lovesick Electric was very much us really trying to carrel ourselves into something and find a sound, and we were still searching for it and figuring out who we were as people and learning to really write songs almost.

By the time we got to Whatever, we had really kind of settled into who we are, and gotten comfortable with… this is what we love, this is the type of music we like doing, and we’re going to go write songs and write songs and write songs, and not try to do something but just do what we love the most and what comes naturally. And once we did that, it all really fell together and clicked and it was easy. We love Whatever, we love the songs on it, and it’s very much about us.

On Lovesick Electric we would write songs, and be like, I really want to write this song about so-and-so emotion that somebody can maybe feel. On Whatever there’s a lot of songs about, “I did this – let’s write about it!” – and it’s so much real, and so much more from our personal experience. Like getting into a fender bender in the song ‘Whatever’, or ‘Forever Unstoppable’ – if you feel down and you need something to really empower you. Everything is from a page of our lives somehow.

A: There is a quote from you from a previous interview where you talked about writing Whatever, that you looked at all the songs you picked to be on the album as [though] they could all be singles. What is the next single going to be off of the record?

NO: The next single is going to be ‘Honestly’.

A: One of my favourites.

NO: Oh, cool! I’m glad you like it! It’s really exciting for us because we chose it as a single just based on song. But, right after we kind of chose it, and set up the video for production in LA coming up shortly, started playing it on the headlining tour and the response from the audience is insane. The entire song people waving their hands back and forth, singing along to every word, so that’s really encouraging for us that the next single for us is something that everybody else is naturally falling in love with as well.

A: So looking back at last year, you guys opened for the likes of We The Kings and The Script, won the Favourite New Artist award at the American Music Awards, played Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve show… it was really big year for Hot Chelle Rae. I know you just started the tour this week, but what else is in the works for this year?

NO: This is exactly one week from us leaving home today and having been out playing some shows, this is the fourth official show of the tour. So after this, we’re going to go to Australia and play three weeks straight with Taylor Swift, and go do two shows in New Zealand and then we come back and continue the ‘Beautiful Freaks’ tour until early May. Then we might have like… I don’t know, two hours off or something like that, before we come back out. Then we’re going to go to Europe sometime in April, we have like a week off or something like that. So we’re going to Europe for a second, we’re going to go to Japan in June for the first time.

A: That’s exciting!

NO: We cannot wait! Australia and Japan have always been my two “want-to-go-there” destinations, and we went to Australia a year and a half ago and we’re going back, and we finally confirmed Japan. We’re really excited about that. And then this fall, we’ve got a couple of different options for tours, so we’re going to solidify that and kind of sort it all out and make sure we know 100% before announcing it. We’re going to be busy until… a million years from now it seems like (laughs). We love being busy, and we love being on the road. I mean, the more people we can play for, and the more places we can see is what we’ve always dreamed about.

A: I actually saw you guys open for The Script in Seattle, back in September. I was really impressed – you guys just had so much energy on stage.

NO: Thank you very much!

A: Is that a conscious thing when you guys are writing the songs? The live performance aspect?

NO: I don’t think we really think about it. It’s not a conscious effort, it just naturally happens. So if we’re writing a song, and we’re excited about it, and somebody comes up with the line of that verse that just kills you, or an incredible melody – somebody in the room is jumping up and that physical reaction and excitement when we write always translates live even if we don’t really know that it’s going to, or notice that it happens.

I think coming up from Nashville being such a musician’s city, and really having to have your chops up and play your instruments well. You had to put on such a show there to even get one fan, much less thirty or two hundred or however many. So that made us really work a lot to put out more energy than even the crowd was giving back to us, to give them a show, and not just play some songs and bore them. That still stays with us, and we want to sweat it out with the crowd, and go about until we pass out – makes it fun.

A: Changing gears a bit, Vancouver is a huge hockey town, and we just wanted to know if you guys are hockey fans.

NO: Yeah, absolutely! We’ve got the Nashville Predators. I actually played hockey for six years growing up, even in Nashville, which is kind of surprising because that was before the Predators. I would wake up really early and go to the rink and all that stuff. So we definitely love it, and we were actually in Poughkeepsie, New York, near Christmas… I’m not sure exactly when, but sometime in December. They opened up a hockey rink after the show, so We The Kings and ourselves got to go out there and we didn’t have any gear or anything, but we still played a game. It was lot of fun.

A: Do you think you would have considered pursuing hockey?

NO: You know, when I quit playing hockey was when people started really getting hurt, and I was like, “Ok, so this kid just broke his arm, and I want to play guitar…” and that’s when I called it, but I absolutely loved it and it’s the only sport I really kept loving past elementary school. But it got to the point where I had to choose one, because my limbs and fingers and whatever are pretty necessary for playing music.

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We’re pretty glad Nash stuck with music. Check out the second part of our interview, the playlist portion, and see what songs he is currently listening to here.