The Click Five | Their Tour Bus Is Cooler than Yours

“I’ll call Paul [Stanley] and leave a message on his voicemail saying, ‘Look, we’ll buy as much Diet Coke as you want, burritos, maybe even some guacamole, just come out and go with us to Metal School at the Key Club.’”

 

Boston old-school power-poppers the Click Five recently spoke with PLAYBACK:stl in the lounge of their super sweet new tour bus. PLAYBACK:stl tried in vain to stop scoping out the quintet’s wonderful toys long enough to ask a few questions about their Atlantic records debut Greetings From Imrie House and current U.S. tour.

Do you guys see each other when the band’s not recording or touring?

Eric Dill (vocals/guitar): Over break we had some time apart and did our thing, but we do still live together in Boston. So we came back to Boston for five days or so to get our stuff together [for this tour].

Time apart for the inevitable solo albums, I guess.

ED: Well, not at this point. It was just some time apart to decompress and enjoy life.

This is your first headlining tour?

Ethan Mentzer (bass): This is our third—sort of.

ED: This is really like our first real one. We’ve gone out for little stints of time, like right after the Ashlee tour…

Ben Romans (keyboards/songwriter): And then we did another mall tour.

ED: That’s not really a headlining tour, but yeah, we did a mall tour.

EM: And we did a couple headlining dates right after the record came out.

What’s a mall tour like?

ED: Mall tours are really fun—oh my gosh! You know what? I keep a picture with me… [Jumps out of his seat to rummage in the back of the bus for said photo]

EM: For me, as a kid, walking around in a mall, you know, 13 or 14, playing guitar—I was like a new guitar player in a band—and I’m thinking, yeah, this would be a good place to have a rock show, but it’ll never happen, ’cause who wants rock ’n’ roll in a mall? And somehow it came up that somebody thought it’d be a good idea to have a rock show in a mall and we were like, yeah! Let’s have a rock show in a mall!
[Eric returns to display the photos, depicting a sea of girls holding up Click Five signs and freaking out. I respond with a genuine “Wow,” and Dill says, “Here’s the real wow,” pointing to a photo of an even more out-of-control mob of fans. When asked if he felt like the Beatles that day, he deadpans, “I felt like the Click Five.” He then laughs, admitting, “I was quite shocked.”]

BR: The most hilarious thing about it is that the malls would insist we’d have security for these shows, which is something entirely new to us. So let’s just say I want to go for coffee, I’m like, “Guys, I think I got it,” you know. I’m a dork, I don’t need security, why would anybody…and they’re like NO! And you go in there and like every move you make they’re like HOLD IT! and they’ll block you…it’s so intense.

At a show like that you’re probably followed around quite a bit…

ED: It’s really fun. The enthusiasm is crazy. And the kids were there for hours. It was like a whole event.

Is this your first time in a big tour bus?

ED: This is the third bus we’ve had. This is the nicest bus we’ve had. Every new bus has been better. It’s definitely no U-Haul tied up behind a van.

Do you have bunks?

ED: Yeah, there’s usually three bunks per these four columns of bunk space, and we decided to get really luxurious and take out one [per column], turning the space that usually has three bunks into two.

EM: Now we can sit up in bed.

ED: You could probably actually—if you wanted to—do a somersault in there. EM: So there’s nine bunks set up right now.

How hi-tech do your toys get in here?

ED: Actually, in our bunks we have our own DVD players, which is pretty amazing. Our last bus, we had a DVD player that kind of broadcast to all the bunks, and the TVs weren’t that great, but now we have these great swivel LCD screens and you can watch whatever’s on up here [in the lounge area], or you can load in your own DVD. It’s awesome. It’s just like you always dreamed back in eighth grade.

ED: These weren’t even out in eighth grade! Yes, but we imagined them in our science fiction futures.

How else will you be alleviating tour bus boredom?

Joe Guese (lead guitar): Watching the Denver Broncos hopefully crushing the Patriots later on…

ED: I’m going to be reading a lot. Reading and playing games.

What kind of stuff do you read? Are you all big readers?

ED: We trade stuff around. Right now I’m reading a Dragonlance book; it’s called Dragons of Autumn Twilight. It’s awesome.

Any nonfiction?

JG: I read a lot of nonfiction. I just got this one called Atomic Times, about some guy who worked on the atomic tests. Stuff like that, 20th century history. I read a lot of music books; I just finished one on Tom Petty.

Does the crew travel with you on the bus?

EM: Yeah, right now we have a stage tech, tour manager, merch manager or seller or whatever, and bus driver.

You’ve opened for several arena tours in the last year. What bill fit the best?

ED: I think the best bills were Ashlee Simpson and the Backstreet Boys.

Were there any awkward fits?

ED: We’d played with Aaron Carter, and all of the audiences tended to be like—

EM: Eight to ten.

ED: Like with one-digit ages. And we love playing to younger kids as well, but there was nobody older, so it wasn’t really what we were used to.

EM: We also play radio shows with a lineup of, like, a big hip-hop artist, a big R&B or dance thing, and maybe like something more folky and acoustic, and then us…sort of an eclectic mix of things that can still be considered pop. But as far as genre goes, it’s sort of an interesting dynamic.

Are those audiences usually open to all of those different types of music?

EM: For the most part they are, just because those shows tend to be really driven by the radio stations—the pop stations. So the people who listen to it kinda know everybody on the bill.

OK, I have to ask. Aaron Carter: Did you see him get high or what?

BR: What? Aaron Carter?

He totally gets high all the time. It angers his parents.

BR: Nah, I never saw anything…

Joey Zehr (drums): Oh, wait—Aaron, Nick’s little brother. Ah, no.

What was the 2005’s high point, touring-wise?

EM: I’d say a couple would be seeing ourselves on MTV for the first time…and Madison Square Garden is one that would stick out; we did that in December and it was one of those radio show deals. That was wild.

JZ: Radio City Music Hall. That was the most adrenaline I’ve ever felt in my body.

BR: Macy’s Day Parade and Christmas in Washington was fun. ’Cause there’s always going to be big shows, but it’s those little shows that are completely different, or not even shows, but events that stand out. Like Christmas in Washington, we played for the President. That was just bizarre.

How many bands were playing that?

ED: Us, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, and…Ciera?

BR: Ciara, yeah. That’s quite an eclectic mix there, too.

BR: Most of it was like a Christmas program, with choirs and things, and we just went out there by ourselves and played a rock song—we played a Chuck Berry song.

EM: We were the only band at that, I guess…Rascal Flatts was, kind of, but they didn’t really do it in a band setup; it was more like a choir backing them.

What’s coming up in 2006 for the band? You were working through a couple of new songs during your soundcheck…

BR: Yeah, we’re working on six…

JZ: We practiced a bunch of new songs like last week for this new tour.

BR: So we’re doing that, and we may get a chance to maybe record some of those. The best thing you can do when you travel this much is not wind up in a situation where you’ve got no time to record. It’s better to have stuff in the can, as much as you can.

Are you working with [Fountains of Wayne producer] Mike Deneen again?

BR: Yeah, so that’s cool. We’re also looking to tour as much as possible; one of our big goals is to get over to Asia, hopefully this spring. We’ve started doing press over there, and we’re the MTV Buzzworthy Band in Asia for “Just the Girl.” You can’t just sit on that, you gotta go over there and do it, so I’m really excited.

Do you have any kind of relationship with these big names that helped you on your debut, like Paul Stanley?

BR: Well I’ve been calling him when we’re out in L.A. I’ll call Paul and leave a message on his voicemail saying, “Look, we’ll buy as much Diet Coke as you want, burritos, maybe even some guacamole, just come out and go with us to Metal School at the Key Club.” I still can’t get him. But he just got married, he’s busy, you know.

JZ: We’re hoping he’s going to come out to our show at the Roxy in February.

BR: We have good relationships with a lot people that you don’t see, too, like people at the record company, our video director—we’ll see him in L.A.—a lot of behind-the-scenes people.

EM: We hang out with our producer Mike Deneen pretty much every time we’re in Boston.

Is that more of an older brother vibe, or a father figure?

JZ: It’s like the cool father vibe.

ED: Maybe the uncle.

EM: I wouldn’t say father. [Laughing]

How much touring have you done outside of the U.S.?

BR: Just Canada. We haven’t gone overseas.

JZ: We’ve been doing radio and press in, like, Malaysia and everywhere else, and it seems like something’s building.

It seems like you would go over really well in Japan, they’re power-pop crazy over there…

ED: Yeah, we’ve been doing interviews with some radio people over there and they’re like, “You guys are so huge over here,” and this and that. And we’ve been doing radio greetings in Indian and Chinese—it’s pretty wild.

Phonetically walking you through it, I guess?

ED: It was like, yeah, a lot of editing on their part.

Is there a new single or video planned?

BR: Our new one is “Catch Your Wave” and…

JZ: I think we have a lot of distance to go yet with “Catch Your Wave.” We really haven’t started to press it yet because of the holidays, so I think now—

BR: It’s go time.

JZ: Yeah, so over the next couple of weeks we’re gonna really try to make it happen, and then ride it for as long as we rode “Just the Girl.” That’s the best-case scenario. If not, then we have a bunch of contenders for the next single.

Has your management pitched any kind of reality show for the band? There’s seems to be a lot of potential for a real-live Monkees, five-guys-on-the-road kind of thing.

JZ: There was a lot of talk—

ED: No, we’re not gonna do a reality show.

JZ: But there’s been a lot of talk. A lot of people presenting ideas…

BR: We got pitched a lot last spring, and we haven’t heard anything more.

ED: There was some excitement in the beginning, but we’ve kind of closed the door on that idea.

What’s the best part about touring?

ED: Playing the shows. Seeing the fans and playing shows for them.

JZ: Interacting with fans and stuff.

What do you miss the most while on tour?

JG: Family.

ED: Family and friends.

EM: Space. BR: And routine.

Doesn’t touring become a routine?

EM: It depends. Every day can be pretty different—like, the length of your drive, what’s going on during the day, are you doing radio stuff or doing press stuff…

JZ: Really, there’s not a lot of downtime, so you don’t feel there’s any sort of routine because you don’t have any downtime to separate work and whatever.

EM: A thing I really like about touring is just getting to see all of the places we go. We’ve gone to like 46 of the States, and we’ve gotten to do some of the touristy things when we have time. There are certain cities that we’ve made it a point to like, all right, we gotta check this out. We’ve gotten to see a lot of things that, at least for me, I probably would not have otherwise done.

Have you been up in the Arch?

JG: I’ve been up in the Arch.

EM: You can go in it?

BR: Oh, man, I’d freak out.

EM: Is it open now? No? Oh, man.

If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?

ED: Probably designing video games or working as an industrial distributor. BR: I think that Joey and I would have a theater company—or rather, we’d be homeless trying to have a theater company, and that would be just miserable. But we’d be trying. We’d be like jesters on the street.

JZ: Or I’d give up and go do yard work for my dad. I’d probably live in his basement.

JG: I’d probably be a teacher, since I came from a family full of teachers. But not music—I wouldn’t teach music. Probably a history teacher.

You all met in college. Did you all graduate?

EM: Four of us graduated from college—three of us graduated from Berklee, and Eric graduated from Purdue. Joe didn’t graduate from Berklee only because it would make the band more successful. And here’s why: If you look at Berklee’s alumni list, people who are like famous or successful musicians that came out of there, I don’t think any of them actually graduated. And if you look at the people that have, I don’t know if you can find any that have really been anything big. Joe dropped out once, and then I talked him into going back, ’cause he was just kind of like hanging around Boston, you know, working a job he didn’t really like, and I was like, “Dude, why don’t you go back to school?” So he went back, and didn’t like it the second time, so he dropped out again. So, because of that, that’s our good luck charm because he dropped out once for himself and once for the rest of us.

Do you still get stage fright?

ED: For myself, I only get nervous if I’m not sure of what’s going on.

So if you prepare and ready yourself, you’ve really got nothing to worry about.

EM: I get nervous pretty regularly, just because—

ED: I think he’s kind of nervous right now, actually…

EM: Once we get in a routine of like, if it’s a tour and we’re doing a show every night, and they’re all similar, I don’t tend to get as nervous. I try to get excited and like hype myself up, and that gives sort of that same feeling. But when we do new things, like some of the TV stuff we’ve done, like the first time we were on TRL, and Christmas in Washington. That was something totally different. I think all of us were nervous for that.

ED: Shows like Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Regis & Kelly, things where we only have one shot at it, there’s a little nervousness at the unknown there.

EM: With Regis & Kelly, for some reason, I don’t think I was nervous for that one.

JZ: Dude, on that that one, I threw in the white flag as soon as we started playing, ’cause like I sit down to play on the show, and all of a sudden all I could hear in my in-ears monitors is Kelly Ripa going, “Regis, I love this song!” They totally forgot to turn down their lapel [microphones] and I was like, screw this, this is gonna be horrible. All we could hear was Kelly. She sang our entire song while we played.

ED: Which was cool, in a way…

JZ: But it was like, oh, wow. I mean, it still turned out OK, but you know…

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