“We can’t choose a favorite experience without thanking the fans for helping us accomplish such crazy things.”
By now, you’ve probably read my review of this trio of brothers’ RCA Records debut EP, All the Lights, which means you know how much I love this disc. You may also be interested to know I can’t stop playing it. Six songs only gets you so far—22 minutes, to be exact—which means I’ve been listening to the songs over and over for almost two weeks.
The band is composed of the three young McDonough brothers—Connor, 22 (vocals, lead guitar, piano, keyboard, drums, production); Riley, 20 (lead vocals, guitar); and Toby, 18 (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard)—yet the album is a far cry from teenybopper pop. Rather, it’s a rich, textured, mature offering from boys young enough to be my children. The fact that they give intelligent and thoughtful interview responses confirms it: They must be reincarnated souls.
On the eve of All the Lights’ April 8 debut, Connor fielded some of my questions.
First of all, you’re far too young to be as talented as you are. What’s your secret?
Well, thank you! We’ve been doing this for a long time. Ever since we were little kids, we would perform plays in our front yard on the stage that our dad helped us build. When we were in elementary school, we would perform in talent shows, and got an early head start on music.
A band of three brothers is unique in its own right. Any musical history in the family?
Surprisingly, not too much! Our dad plays a little bit and a couple other relatives, but nothing too crazy. Our parents are always questioning where, exactly, it came from. [Laughs]
How is it touring with your brothers? Are you closer than most bandmates, or is there such a thing as too much familial proximity?
It’s actually pretty awesome. Of course, we sometimes have our fights and arguments, but for the most part, we get along really well and have a great time traveling the world. I would say we get along better than most band members because we have learned how to work out our differences when we have them.
By my math, Connor co-founded BYE almost nine years ago (with Riley and Toby joining later). How has the band’s sound evolved over the years?
The sound has definitely evolved. I think it really just depends in where we are with our lives that determines what the music sounds like. We have always loved pop music, ever since we were really young.
You’ve had a lot of big occasions in your career: winning the iHeartRadio Rising Star contest in 2014; playing multiple headline tours, including international dates; getting a major-label record deal; and opening for one of my all-time favorites, Olly Murs. If you had to pick the best moment, what would it be?
It’s too hard to pick! We’ve been so blessed with those opportunities and can’t answer the question without thanking the fans for helping us accomplish such crazy things. Traveling internationally was definitely one of the first eye openers for us: This is no longer a jam band in the garage. The second you step off a plane and see a sign in another language, you know it’s the real deal.
You’ve co-written with a number of songwriters. What’s the general songcrafting process for BYE?
We actually write and produce most of our music. The process varies song to song. Sometimes we will write the melody first, whether it comes to you on an airplane or backstage at show. Other times, we write lyrics first if we have a situation that inspires us. For us, each song on the new EP is so special to us, because they really each are a different story. | Laura Hamlett
Before You Exit have announced a couple of tour dates, with more to come.
05.29 | The Foundry @ The Fillmore, Philadelphia
05.30 | Altar Bar, Pittsburgh
Band photo by Taylor Foiles