Written By Kelly Holm
The class of 2020 may not be able to physically walk down the aisle in their caps and gowns thanks to COVID-19, but brother act AJR’s latest single “Bang!” still conveys plenty of graduation spirit. With relatable lines about the challenges of #adulting, this catchy tune is the perfect soundtrack for ushering out something old and beginning something new.
“Feel like I’m gonna puke because my taxes are due/Do my password begin with a one or a two/Been a hell of a ride but I’m thinking it’s time to grow,” frontman Jack Met sings. “So put your best face on, everybody/Pretend you know this song, everybody/Come hang/Let’s go out with a bang!”
AJR’s song-of-the-summer vibes with “Bang!” are a long time coming. Brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met grew up listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles, writing together in their Manhattan apartment and busking on city sidewalks.
“We used to write a lot using melodies from songs that… our dad would play us,” Adam remembered. “That was just kind of the way we learned to write lyrics.”
Their first “official” performance, however, was to a crowd of just three people.
“Our manager said… wouldn’t you love to see your favorite band where there are only a few other people in the audience?” Adam remembered. “We said, ‘yeah, of course.’ And those three people have been fans of us ever since.”
Since then, AJR has released three full-length albums and a handful of EPs. It isn’t always easy when your co-workers are your brothers, but a mutual origin means you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses better than anybody.
“You need to rely on people when they have expertise in areas that are different from your own,” Adam says. “Ryan, Jack and I each excel in very different areas.”
The brothers pooled their creativity into the “Bang!” music video, which first appeared in February. Filmed on the set of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” it features a plethora of sound effects, costumes and masks.
“The three of us came up with the idea that [we] wanted it to be casino-themed, around this table with all these different people,” Adam said. “We didn’t want a million different locations; we wanted the song to really shine through… in this weird Wes Anderson way.”
Although Adam remained mum about the prospect of a new album, he promises that more music is scheduled to drop soon.
“We have a few things in the vault,” he says. “Definitely by the end of summer, you’ll have a few new [things].”
If you can’t wait that long, Adam recommends that you check out his personal favorite, the bass-heavy, “Burn the House Down” from AJR’s 2017 album The Click.
“If I write a song/preaching what is wrong/will they let me sing on TV?” AJR muses. “Should I keep it light? Is that right?”
In times like these, keeping it light is necessary to lift a lot of fans’ spirits. Adam, however, is devoting quarantine to working on his PhD, learning to cook and reminiscing about playing at Red Rocks and Radio City. When happy days are here again, he hopes the band can collaborate with Lorde and further explore their love of hip hop.
“Hip-hop is such an interesting genre because… you can say so much more in a song,” he says. “You can be honest in a specific way that you can’t necessarily be in pop music… on the songwriting side that’s definitely an inspiration.”
Is this a preview for what AJR’s next release might be like? Perhaps, but regardless of what genre they’re dabbling in, they want fans to be able to “pull their own stories out of [their] songs.”
“The kinds of things… that resonate the most are when families are able to come together to our shows,” Adam says. “The numbers on a Billboard chart, those don’t really mean so much until we actually see it in the live space… when they’re singing those songs back to us, that means that we’ve touched people, and that’s the point of this for us.”