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McFly Talks Coming to America, New Music & One Direction
British Pop Group to Play Targeted U.S. Dates for Dedicated Fans
While the British pop-rock band McFly has notched 17 top 10 singles and six top 20 albums on the Official U.K. charts since their debut in 2004, most Americans are still unaware of the four cheeky lads. But that could change come September -- when the band has tentative plans to head to the U.S. for a few targeted shows.
"We just want to go over and do some small shows for the fans that we know we have there," says McFly's co-lead singer and guitarist Tom Fletcher. "We've been wanting to do that for years and years and years and years. But we've just never had the opportunity, or something else has come up."
"We have some fans in America that have been fans for like eight or nine years -- right from the beginning -- so much so that they fly over to see us in the U.K. It's amazing that they are so dedicated. So I think we owe it to them to come over." McFly has been a blip on the radar in the U.S. -- they've never toured here and have only properly released one album: 2006's "Just My Luck." It was a compilation of previously released songs, and was a tie-in to the Lindsay Lohan film of the same name, which McFly had a role in.
Billboard recently caught up with Fletcher on his tour bus, en route to a gig at the Preston Guild Hall in Preston, England. At the time, the band was about mid-way through its Keep Calm and Play Louder tour, which wraps on April 21 at the O2 Apollo in Manchester. The group will play additional festival shows through the summer, before packing up their bags for the U.S.
"(Touring is) the best part of our job by far -- we absolutely love touring," Fletcher says. "And this one's nice because . . . we're not promoting an album at the moment. So the setlist is a real mix. We're doing three brand new songs -- which will be on the next album -- and then some really old ones that we haven't played for years."
Speaking of said "next album," McFly is planning to start recording the set -- the band's sixth studio effort -- in June, but its release will depend "on when we're going to tour and do some international stuff," says Fletcher.
The forthcoming album will be the follow-up to 2010's "Above the Noise," which spawned the act's longest-charting U.K. single, "Shine a Light" (featuring Taio Cruz). It spent 16 weeks on the tally, peaking at No. 8. "Above the Noise" was released in a one-off, 50/50 joint venture deal with Island Records in the U.K. through Universal Music. McFly are "free agents again," says Fletcher, but are "in negotiations" as to whether they will re-up with Island for the next album. They are also currently unsigned in America, something that could be remedied after their stateside shows later this year.
GOING IT ALONE
Unlike "Above the Noise," which was produced and co-written largely by R&B/pop hitmaker Dallas Austin, the upcoming album will be the band's first self-produced set -- something Fletcher is quite keen on.
"It will be the first album where it's 100% exactly how we envision the album to be," he says. "It doesn't feel like a shift in direction like the last album. It doesn't feel like a conscious change. It just feels like a very natural progression. It feels like what we should be doing."
Fletcher says "Above the Noise" was a "big shift for us" and "a big experiment." He explains, "I think it just felt like at the time it would be good for us to progress somehow and try something new. It's important for it to feel fresh for the band as well and for it to keep being exciting."
Among the new songs slated for the upcoming album will be "Red," which the act has been trying out on the road this spring. The tune has been drawing good notices by fans on YouTube, which isn't lost on Fletcher. "I'm surprised that fans latched onto that one really, because it's very different from our normal kind of songs," he says. "And it doesn't really have a big, catchy sing-a-long type chorus. It's quite a progressive song for us."
THE ONE DIRECTION CONNECTION
Certainly, the recent success in the U.S. by fellow British pop groups The Wanted and One Direction have focused attention on what other British acts might cross the pond. Fletcher himself is a fan of One Direction, and wrote the song "I Want" for the group's debut album, "Up All Night."
"When I was in the studio with them, I was like, 'Guys, you don't understand, you're going to be massive,'" Fletcher says. "They're all awesomely talented guys, stupidly good-looking of course, as well. Young. They've got everything. They've got the whole package. But none of them realized it. They're all very humble and down to earth. It just reminded me of exactly of how we were like when we started."
When McFly busted out of the gate in 2004, the four gents -- Fletcher, co-lead singer and guitarist Danny Jones, drummer Harry Judd and bassist Dougie Poynter -- were all in their late teens and found themselves with a decidedly youthful, female fan base. Not terribly far from the demographic that is courted by One Direction. Since then, McFly has grown up and seen their fans become more diverse. Recently, the band has expanded its appeal to a wider (and older) audience, thanks to three-quarters of the act appearing on reality TV competitions. Most notably, Judd won the latest edition of "Strictly Come Dancing" (the parent show of America's "Dancing With the Stars"), while in December, Poynter was crowned champion of the famous-people-stuck-in-a-jungle show "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!"
MCFLY - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Also on tap for later this year, McFly's first book -- an autobiography. "We've been a band for almost nine years this summer, (so) we have quite a few stories to tell," Fletcher says. "It just feels like we're at a nice stage in our career and in our lives. And our audience now is old enough to hear some of the slightly more risque stories."
Fletcher puts it bluntly: "Boys in bands get up to exactly what you think boys in bands get up to."
"Even if you're not a fan of McFly, I think it's just quite an interesting insight into what goes on when you're in a band when you're 15-25, for ten years."
McFly almost released a book early on in its career, but "scrapped it because we hated it so much." Fletcher dismissed it as a "photobook with a few little stories."
"I think (the autobiography is) going to be a very honest tale of what we've experienced over the last eight years."
SUPER CITY AND BEYOND
On Oct. 1, 2010, McFly launched its official website and elevated fan club, Super City. Members pay a fee to receive access to a wealth of exclusive content (video and otherwise) via McFly.com . The band even gave away its then-new "Above the Noise" album to its members as a download on Nov. 1 -- two weeks ahead of its physical release.
After some initial bumps (the site was swamped by so many visitors upon launch, it was forced to shut down for two weeks), the service is running smoothly.
"Our whole philosophy with the site was to (give) complete access to us. And I still don't think we've really achieved that," Fletcher says. "I still think one day that's going to be completely possible -- for fans to watch us as we write songs and hear songs before they've been released and watch us as we're recording and maybe even have a say. That was our whole thing -- fans should have an interactive part to play in a band's kind of life."
Perhaps members can be invited into the studio when McFly records the next album? Fletcher: "Well, absolutely. Depends where we record I guess. Might record in America!" source