Alex, Andre and Forrest Burnham have been performing together for seven years, which is pretty remarkable because the three brothers from Vermont are, respectively, just 18, 16 and 14.
Early on, Burnham took over their family living room and converted it into a jam space where they honed their skills playing for four to five hours a day. “When we plug in and start playing, we lose all sense of time.”
After almost five years of performing live, a friend hooked them up with NY based producers, Andy Marvel and Freddy Shehadi, who set-up several showcases with various major record labels. Apparently, the record execs saw what everyone else was seeing; a young band oozing with talent and a front man with an unmistakable and powerful voice. With two major record deals on the table, the boys did one final showcase in New York for Island Def Jam chairman and CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid. The veteran record exec wouldn’t let the band leave the room until he signed them, not even after youngest member Forrest beat him at pool. “I happened to be on my game that day both vocally and with a pool cue,” says Forrest with a smirk. High-spirited and confident, Forrest fronts the band as vocalist, with older siblings Alex on guitar and Andre playing bass and keyboards.
The three brothers got the performing gene from their mom, a UCLA music major who studied opera, and their love of rock from their dad, who shared his record collection with his boys on a nightly basis.
Burnham has crafted a debut album filled with catchy rock/pop anthems. It features songs like Tedder’s “Catch Me If You Can,” the Espionage-produced “Look Like Her” (“I have been waiting all my life/for someone to come and put things right”), “Thank You,” a collaboration with producer/songwriter Kennedy, and the power ballad by Burnham that helped get them signed, “Slow Dance.”
Their Island Def Jam debut album represents their first time co-writing with such established producers as OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Brian Kennedy (Chris Brown, Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, Jesse McCartney), the N.Y.-based Norwegian production team Espionage of Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund (Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” and Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”), and James Bourne of Busted (“Year 3000”).
“We started writing our own songs about three years ago,” says Andre. “But collaborating with these great producers has allowed us to take our song writing skills to another level.”
The boys started out by learning to play their instruments at a local music school in Vermont. At the time the two older boys joined the ensemble, there were no singers. Andre said, “Forrest will do it,” and the rest is history. “It was either this, or go play in the sandbox,” he jokes about joining his older brothers in the band. “I’m very competitive, but most of the time I’m joking and being sarcastic. From what I can tell, they don’t mind me getting a lot of the attention. In fact, they’re cool about it. They know their place,” Forrest says laughingly…“But seriously, we’re all equal.”
With Forrest in front, the band boasts brotherly three-part harmonies and indelible hooks, lacing them with lyrics that are universal and ageless… romance, betrayal, young love and, well, girls. “I never actually believed they had cooties, but up until a few years ago, I used to think that they should have their side and we should have ours…but now I’m a BIG fan,” says Forrest, whose vocal heroes include U2’s Bono, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and The Killer’s Brandon Flowers.
“Our music has hooks and choruses that people can sing along with,” adds Alex.
And while their initial audience is most likely teenage girls, Andre is quick to point out, “The Beatles’ fans were teenage girls when they first started out… Just give us another 40 years.”
“We definitely set goals for ourselves,” says Forrest. “One of them was to get a record deal and we’ve done that. Now our goal is to make great music that is timeless and to reach as many people as we can.”
With their good-natured sibling rivalry, each of the three Burnhams bring something a little different to the table. Alex is the designated riff-meister and Forrest is great at finding melodies, while Andre, also known as M.D.(music director), organizes the rehearsals and comes up with lyrical ideas.
“Everyone in the band does a bit of everything,” adds Forrest.
“When we first started playing, it was for fun,” says Alex. “And now it has developed into an insane amount of fun.” “We’re normal kids doing things that all kids do. We just happen to have a record deal,” says Andre.
With the release of their debut album, Burnham is ready to take the next step. It certainly won’t be the last.