Christofer Drew's music career flourished on the internet. A decade ago, when he was a high schooler with flat-ironed hair uploading peace-sign webcam selfies, Drew began making music under the Myspace alias “nevershoutnever!” His bubbly ukulele ditties about love took off and skyrocketed him to web fame, bringing in massive Myspace profile song adds, music-player listens, and, ultimately, a record deal.
With little more than Myspace and a MacBook (the 2007 virality starter pack), Drew became an icon for the scene teens, spreading messages of peace and love. A few years later, Drew's project transitioned from an acoustic solo act to a full band. This year, 26-year-old Drew and Never Shout Never — capitalization and spaces added, exclamation point dropped — celebrate a decade of music by hitting the road on a throwback-themed tour, transporting fans back to the days when they could upload NSN's uke songs to their click-wheel iPods and paste the lyrics into their AOL Instant Messenger profiles.
MTV News talked with Drew before hitting the stage at New York City's Webster Hall about the band's beginning, celebrating a decade of music, and the healing powers of the Throw Back Tour. [This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.]
Your initial Never Shout Never persona — the ukulele/acoustic sound with hippie-like, colorful images — was extremely unique at the time and attracted teens on Myspace. What inspired the aesthetic?
Christofer Drew: At the time I was really into cute, almost like children's book artwork. That was the vibe. I wanted to do something that brought you back to this, like, energetic child. It's not really like that as much anymore, but at the time that was what it was all about, just being cute. I've always liked indie bands and I was influenced by them and The Beatles. I just wanted to make something that was my own, and so I put together a mesh of what I thought was cool at the time.
Why did you start your Myspace music page in the first place?
Drew: I just really wanted to play music and do something with it. I'd been in bands all [through] high school and I was writing my own acoustic songs. A buddy of mine turned me on to the idea of home recording. I worked as a lifeguard at the YMCA before school, a janitor at a tennis facility, and as a server at an ice cream place, just so I could save up enough money to buy a MacBook. Eventually I was skipping school to work on my MacBook and then ended up dropping out of school to hit the road. Myspace was very, very good for music at the time. I wrote songs that I knew people would want to start right away on their page. It was just me analyzing what was going on with the internet and doing my best to make things I liked.
You actually ended up being one of the first artists to launch a career from Myspace. Was there a moment in particular when you remember it all taking off?
Drew: It was all very gradual. I had all these ideas for marketing but I really didn't think of it as marketing at the time. I found a great photographer in my area and I started doing shoots all of the time. I kept a steady stream of songs and videos of [myself] on Myspace. I was, like, 16 or 17, so it was this exciting thing and no one had really done it like that before. Record labels were very interested. When I signed to Warner Bros. Records when I was 18, I got one of the best deals to date in the music industry because the whole viral marketing thing was so new.
Your fans online were excited when you announced this year's Throw Back Tour, and some said the songs from this era happily bring them back to middle school. What is it like for you to go back and play the songs that got you started?
Drew: The funny part is that we're in this together. I'm having the same exact experience. ... I'm not playing any sad songs, really. This Throw Back Tour has allowed us to rediscover songs we haven't played in forever and see what those songs mean to us now after everything that we've been through, because we've been through a lot as a band and a lot as people. Singing those songs again, it brings me back to that real, pure state. It's healing, actually. We've been trying to play all of our happiest songs and just all the songs with a message that I feel like now is more relevant than ever. Back then it didn't seem as relevant, but now, where our country's at, where our politics are at, where all these cultural barriers have been put up out of fucking nowhere, things have just amplified.
A lot of other bands who saw big success a decade ago, like Simple Plan and We the Kings, also decided to do anniversary or reunion tours this year. Why did you decide to do it with Never Shout Never?
Drew: We've been a band since 2007, and it's 2017 now, so my whole kind of view was the closing of a decade. I've had a lot of synchronicities in my life telling me that it's time to let go of the past and let go of this last decade and start something new and fresh. This tour just kind of manifested itself. Almost all the shows have sold out, which is so nice. For the people and the fans that haven't listened to us in years and are coming out to these shows, we are reliving this era together. It's been such a great tour, and it gets me excited for the next decade because we're gonna keep making records and we're going to keep having Warner Bros. behind us. We're about to make our seventh record. We have seven or eight EPs. We've put hundreds of songs out at this point, so we're just gonna keep rockin' it. I have a life sentence to this. Our next record, Emerald Sun, is going to be the one that's like a rebirth for the band and just a new beginning, and I think people will be really happy with it.