Despite multiple hit singles and a rapid rise to fame, the three male stars of pop band New Hollow are also exactly what one might expect of any normal teenager: eager to clown around, talk over each other and generally have a good time.
"We didn't really expect that we were going to get famous," says Evan West in a recent phone interview. "It's more fun and exciting than anything else."
The band -- West and Mick Clouse, who both turned 18 recently, and Chad Blashford, 16 -- will be opening for Allstar Weekend on Saturday at the York Fair Grandstand. The group from New Albany, Ohio, rose to national attention in November 2010 with a hit single, "SiCK," and a Thanksgiving Day performance for the NFL seen by television viewers across the country.
All three of the guys are self-taught musicians, something Clouse sums up with a pragmatic philosophy of independence.
"When you learn from someone, they're teaching you how they play," he says. "When you learn yourself, you make your own style."
Beginnings: As West tells it, happenstance played a big role in getting the band together.
"I got my first guitar when I was like 7 ... and I didn't really start playing because my hands weren't big enough until I was 9," he says. "I moved to Ohio, and I met Mick, and we started writing music together."
So where did Blashford come in?
"Chad was our neighbor," West says. "And one day we were like, 'you should play drums.'"
Done deal: a band was born.
The members of New Hollow are multi-instrumentalists, but West and Clouse stick primarily to lead vocals, guitars and keyboards while Blashford crushes the drum kit, handles the backup vocals and occasionally raps. In fact, it was Blashford's rapping that prompted the band to release a cover of the B.o.B song "Airplanes."
"Because Chad is such a good rapper, we wanted him to do 'Airplanes,'" Clouse says. "When we play live, we'll do some covers, too, and change it up so no one gets the same show."
Feeling it: But the band's true passion is for original music -- songs authentic to their own experiences as teenagers.
"We try to write about real stuff that happens to us," West says.So far, that strategy has given them the hit singles "SiCK" and "Boyfriend"; the band's latest single, "She Ain't You," just landed over the summer. And the guys have more music in the pipe.
"We're writing our album all the time; we write nonstop. I've always got a pen in my hand," Clouse says. "We're recording and we're working with some producers (on the album) right after this summer."
Being on the road to perform and constantly pushing themselves to develop new songs has meant a few changes for the guys, who are finishing up their educations with online schooling and learning to handle overenthusiastic fans. West and Clouse insist everyone always falls in love with Blashford -- and swipes his hats -- because "he's the cute one."
"One time, there was this crazy fan, and they threw underwear over a ledge at Chad," West recounts. "It was so cool."
But being on stage, Clouse says, is "a really good feeling. It's a whole room full of music love."
Still, they keep things low-key when they're home in Ohio, hanging out with friends and chatting with fans on Facebook and Twitter.
"We want fans to know that we love them and appreciate every last one of them," West says.
As the bandmates laugh and crack jokes at each other's expense in the background, it's easy to believe it. These three teens are having a fantastic time, and they want to share it with everyone who hears their music.
New Hollow at the York Fair
New Hollow will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, as the opening act for Allstar Weekend at the York Fair Grandstand, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township.
Concert tickets are $24-$29. Fair admission, paid separately, is $7 for adults and $3 for college students with ID and children ages 6 to 18. Children 5 and under get in free. Parking at the fairgrounds is $6.
The band members will stick around for a meet-and-greet with fans after the show.
For more information and concert tickets, call (717) 848-2033 or visit www.yorkfair.org.
-- Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.