VIDEO: The Click Five, "Jenny"
Back on June 20, three tour buses were lined up like impregnable traveling fortresses behind the House of Blues in Cleveland. All were unattended, but the shiniest two were locked, with shades drawn and front doors and windows stuffed with pillows. In one of these two, I assumed, I was to meet the Click Five, a teen-targeted power-pop band comprising five former Berklee College of Music students. With worldwide tours and a Top 20 debut album under their tightly buckled belts, the Click Five, who return to Boston to play a free lunchtime concert at the Prudential Center next Thursday, were in Cleveland as part of a pre-release tour for their second Atlantic Records album, Modern Minds and Pastimes, which came out on June 26. I knocked at the two shiny buses; no answer. I didn’t hold out much hope as I tried the third — it was far less pristine, with unblocked windows and an unlocked door. But when I opened it, I was greeted by the Click Five.
The other buses, it turned out, were for Pink Martini, a world-music/lounge act on the Portland (Oregon) independent Heinz Records. Pink Martini have sold well over a million CDs — three times the Click Five’s total, despite the help of MTV’s TRL, spots on Ashlee Simpson and Backstreet Boys tours (not to mention the JC Penny “Rock Your Prom” Fashion Show), Click Five lunchboxes and hair products (no joke), and “high priority” backing by the once mighty Atlantic Records. The cutesy-quirky Pink Martini were playing the House of Blues’ main stage, of course; the mainstream-ready Click Five were booked into a side room. Welcome, once more, to our millennium’s music-scene-scrambling new world disorder.
Said disorder could also explain why five competent Berklee musicians would stoop to conquer the much derided teenage-girl audience. Of course, there are other explanations. “We all wanted to wear tight pants and pick up chicks,” quips the group’s new lead singer, Kyle Patrick, to the laughter of everyone on the bus. That includes the two “Cleveland friends” who are there when I arrive, sporting skimpy party dresses almost as satiny as their bronzed legs.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep doing the composition thing or if I secretly really, really did love pop music,” says effusive keyboard player Ben Romans, a little less glibly. “I was a nerd, yeah. But that’s why, you see, Berklee wound up saving me, because if I didn’t do music . . . I would be a mess, still not getting laid, you know what I mean? It would be terrible.”
Drummer Joey Zehr went to Berklee after his band in Hershey, Pennsylvania, broke up, in part, he says, with “the idea of a safety-net career — my major was music production and engineering. But while I was at Berklee I sort of realized, ‘Well, it’s not necessarily a safety job, anyway, because it’s still just as hard to make it.’ I think anything in music is really hard. A lot of luck is involved, a lot of right-place-at-the-right-time. It’s not really all in your control.”