Boyce Avenue: Not hitting the streets anytime soon
The band of YouTube fame has established a unique niche in the industry
The world would be an arguably better place if viral music sensations spent more time forming connections with their audience that engaged rather than shocked.
The authenticity of Boyce Avenue, one such homespun group, is a testament to this rarity. According to its YouTube channel, the group is currently the “most-viewed independent band in the world.” And with music videos garnering more than 1 billion total YouTube views and a history of opening for acts like One Direction, the Florida-born trio of brothers Alejandro, Fabian and Daniel Manzano has come a long way from their early days of online fame.
"We kind of started off like everybody," lead singer and youngest brother Alejandro says. “You play in your bedroom; you’re honing your craft. In Gainesville, Fla., we would just go out and play at pubs whenever we could, shows here and there. It seemed like a natural progression of ‘Why don’t we take what we’re doing at these small venues, and why don’t we film and upload it online?'”
The brothers started receiving recognition in 2007 for their soulful acoustic covers as well, making a name for themselves by keeping it subtle.
“A lot of what we do on YouTube has been with a lot of different genres of music, but I think something that we love about the intimacy of just an acoustic guitar and vocal (is) … for the most part, keeping it very stripped,” Alejandro says. “You get to focus on the lyrics and melody more. It became a challenge, whether it was to take a song that we loved growing up as kids or to take a current pop song that has no acoustic instruments in it whatsoever, and try to inject that into it and put our own spin on it.”
With a tour lineup chock-full of its own content, Boyce Avenue is also staying true to its bare-basics theme when it comes to the lyrics it’s penned.
“We like to try, whether we’re doing originals or covers, to have it relate to us,” Alejandro says. “A lot of what we do with originals is based on life experience, whether it was completely personal to us or maybe a close friend that had experienced something.”
Continuously keeping its audience in mind, Boyce Avenue also recently produced its first live album, Live in Los Angeles, with entertainment channel AXS TV to extend the world tour experience to their online fanbase.
And the band’s hands-on approach goes beyond making its own music. In 2011, Boyce Avenue left Universal Republic (now Republic Records) to start its own label, 3 Peace Records.
In addition to having more creative freedom, the band can now mentor signed artists whose shoes the trio was once in.
The experience has helped the brothers not just in leading their artists to success but also in guest-coaching aspiring singers on “The X Factor.”
“It was kinda cool to be able to not only coach (contestants) on certain specific things vocally, but kind of help them connect emotionally with the song,” Alejandro says. “The main reason we were on the show was (because) Simon Cowell called us up and wanted us to help his groups, which makes sense because we’re a group. But it was cool to share some of the wisdom we’ve learned over the years with these contestants.”
Stopping by The Blue Note on Oct. 14 as part of their current world tour, the brothers picked Columbia as a wildcard location.
“I guess it is somewhat of a random market, but sometimes we actually like picking these to see what happens, and to get to perform for people who maybe aren’t expecting us to come there,” Alejandro says. “We’re pumped to see the energy of that city and play somewhere we’ve never played before.”