The members of Why Don’t We have a secret handshake they do right before hitting the stage. They call it their “confidence solidifier.”
“I can’t go onstage if I don’t shake everyone’s hand,” Why Don’t We’s Daniel Seavey told HuffPost. “There was one time the show started and we hadn’t done the handshake. We were supposed to run onstage, but we finished the handshake first.”
The five-piece group, featuring Seavey (who competed on Season 14 of “American Idol”), Zach Herron, Corbyn Besson, Jonah Marais and Jack Avery, started that handshake after forming their band in the summer of 2016. The guys knew one other from touring as solo acts and decided to meet up in Los Angeles just to see what would happen.
“There was this magic sauce in the air,” Besson recalled. Seavey noted how everything came together very organically.
“Coming into the group, it never was really us like, ‘Oh, let’s just join this boy band,’” Seavey said. “It was more so, ‘We are all friends. We all like the same type of music, so why don’t we just make a band and make good music?’”
Why Don’t We is made up of five guys ranging in age from 16-19, so it would be easy to dub the group a “boy band.” While Besson says they “embrace the boy band term,” they wouldn’t mind being called something else.
“If people want to call us a boy band, that’s cool. I don’t think we necessarily call us ourselves a boy band. We prefer ‘man band.’ Like if possible, in your article if you can convince everybody to call us ‘man band’ from now on, that would be so incredible,” Besson joked.
“No, but we embrace it,” he continued. “Our sound is definitely a little bit different than what you’d expect from a traditional boy band or what’s been termed as a boy band in the past. We’re kind of just doing our thing. We’re doing the music we love — doing it the Why Don’t We way.”
Whatever they’re doing, it appears to be working. The group has garnered 2.4 million followers on Instagram, amassed more than 120 million audio streams globally and racked up 38 million YouTube views for their “These Girls” video.
“It’s so cool. When my mom gets excited about things now, she texts me with six exclamation points instead of just one,” Besson said about their newfound success.
Performing at New York’s Madison Square Garden for Z100’s Jingle Ball in December marked one of the highlights of the past year ― not only because of the concert itself, but because of the other artists in attendance.
“When we originally got to Madison Square Garden that day and got to our dressing room, there was a note left on our table … It was from Taylor Swift and she was congratulating us on all of our success … It was a super sweet letter,” Besson said.
“She invited us to her dressing room after our set. We walked in and it smelled like the most beautiful botanical garden ... Taylor Swift was standing right there, and Ed Sheeran was just there hanging. We were like, ‘Whoa, this is like real life right now.’”
Why Don’t We met Sheeran prior to Jingle Ball at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2017.
“We were on the red carpet, and he stopped by and was like, ‘Hey, Why Don’t We’! And we were like, ‘Uuuuhhhh, hi Ed Sheeran!’ It was a crazy moment. He said he loved our music, loved our sound and that he couldn’t wait to see where our success takes us,” Seavey said.
Then, just a few months later, Why Don’t We’s manager and label, Atlantic Records, called with a nice surprise.
“They said, ’Hey, this guy thinks he may have the perfect song for you guys. And we were like, ‘Who is it?’ And they were like, ‘Ed Sheeran.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, well, let’s hear the song.’ We heard the song and we loved the direction he was going with it,” Seavey said about “Trust Fund Baby.” “We got our voices on it as soon as we could, and it came out amazing.”
The group has already released five EPs filled with plenty of tracks, but the new single, released this week, is by far the favorite. “This feels like the best way to represent how we want the rest of the year to go,” Seavey said.
More music is on the way as the band currently works on a full-length album, expected out later this year.
“If you thought 2017 was a good year for us, then I’m really excited to see how 2018 does because we got a lot more things up to our sleeve,” Seavey said.
One of those things is an upcoming headlining tour, set to kick off in February. Their live set will feature a mixture of everything. The guys are working on dance routines, incorporating live instruments and planning a high-production show.
And you can bet they’ll do that secret handshake each and every night.
“I think the best part of being in a band is having four guys there to be a support onstage and to back you up. If you make a little mistake, you have four other guys to back you up right there,” Marais said before adding with a laugh, “But we don’t make mistakes.”