The NY-based brothers recently released their full-length debut album Living Room, written, recorded and produced by the band in the living room of their New York City apartment.
AJR — New York City's own indie pop brothers — has quickly achieved success over the past two years with their buoyant electro- pop hit single "I'm Ready" and recently released "Infinity."
The numbers: over 13 million plays on YouTube, nearly 650,000 copies of the Gold Certified hit "I'm Ready" sold, features in Billboard and the New York Post, a performance on Live! With Kelly and Michael, and heavy airplay on pop radio's coveted SiriusXM "Hits 1" while climbing the Top 40 chart. Their previous tours included shows with The Wanted, Demi Lovato, and Hoodie Allen, and now 2015 brings the release of their highly anticipated debut album, Living Room.
More amazing? They've done this all on their own.
No pop svengali overseeing their work. No studio musicians filling in the blanks. No Max Martin co-write. Simply a DIY pop group that writes, records, and produces everything themselves all from the living room of their Chelsea apartment.
So let's meet the intriguing NYC-bred Met brothers — Adam (bass/vocals), a 24-year old Columbia University graduate. Ryan (guitar/piano/vocals), a bespectacled 21-year old Columbia student who serves as the band's main songwriter (in addition to AJR's music, he has also co-written Andy Grammer's hit single "Back Home"). And Jack (vocals/guitar), the 17-year old force-of-nature who splits time between lead vocals and attending high school in NYC.
From an early age, music became the brothers' passion. "After realizing that the three of us could sing, we immediately started harmonizing, taking cues from classic bands like Simon Garfunkel and The Beach Boys," Adam remembers. Eight years ago, AJR got their musical start busking in Central Park and Washington Square, singing Jackson 5 covers, and later, their own material.
They took those busking earnings to buy musical instruments, equipment, and Pro Tools. Over time, they realized that they could get the sound and reverb they needed right in their living room with a $99 microphone, which is where they still record today.
As they were practicing, some interesting sounds started to mold into the very songs they've released. "We were combining older music, from the ‘50s and ‘60s, with more modern music," explains Ryan, who dubs their sound as both "electric indie-pop with folksy influences." "When we play in our apartment, you can hear it in the entire hallway," says Jack. "It's actually surprising that we haven't gotten complaints."
Their single "I'm Ready" was something Ryan actually wrote while stuck in his Columbia dorm room during Hurricane Sandy. "Instantly, I thought it was a hit," his brother Jack would later recall.
The band's big break soon followed in the fall of 2013. Sitting in a psychology class at Columbia with Adam, Ryan tweeted out a link of an early version of their video for "I'm Ready" to dozens
of famous recording artists. Apparently, some of those celebrity tweeters heard a hit as well, including Sia, who tweeted back and, eventually, formed a bond with the brothers, spreading the word to her own network about their music.
From those first few mentions, "I'm Ready" took on a life of its own. The "Spongebob Squarepants"-sampling pop track, which Billboard favorably compared to The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel (for the harmonies) along with Fun. and Imagine Dragons (for the electro-pop influences), started getting play on Sirius XM's "20 On 20."
What came next? The band was named iHeart Radio's Artist of the Month for Top 40 in January 2014, and a MySpace "One to Watch" in February. Having already formed their own label, AJR Productions, the band finalized a partnership with Warner Bros. Records in March. "I'm Ready" officially impacted pop radio in April 2014, earning them acclaim across the board and even international attention, leading to a Double-Platinum certification in Australia.
The release of "Infinity" soon followed – accompanied by a performance on Live! With Kelly and Michael – simultaneously depicting their past adolescences while exposing their lyrical creativity. The music video, debuted via iHeart Radio, combines colorful animations of romantic hardships with reality, with illustration and direction by Jason Merrin. As Idolator put it, the single is "a nostalgic look back at the innocence of childhood…AJR's latest showcases their songwriting skills and knack for melody."
Now AJR are gearing up for a huge 2015, that will see them out on tour and releasing their eagerly awaited debut album, Living Room. The full-length album, out March 3 via AJR Productions/Warner Bros. Records, is a 13-track album that features both "I'm Ready" and "Infinity." As one article described the early results: "Pop melodies with vintage barber shop vocals [and] edgier electronic samples and ‘spokestep' [aka dubstep breakdowns derived from vocals]."
Ask AJR about their rise to fame—and their apparent lack of band turmoil— and the band points to the one thing that's always united them.
"The fact that we're brothers is essential to our process." says Ryan. "Because we are so close, there is no ego battle. We are all on the same page as to the vision for our band, and the ultimate goal is to create the best possible music."
Catch up with AJR on Social Media:
AJR official website.
Follow AJR on Twitter: @AJRbrothers
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