Bound by an unstoppable passion for music, the five members of L.A.-based pop band In Real Life hail from wildly diverse backgrounds. As the first band in history to be voted together by America, Sergio, Drew, Conor, Chance, and Brady made a point of deliberately celebrating their differences as they brought their music to life. “We didn’t start this band in a garage together when we were 12—we’re not even from the same town,” says Conor. “It might seem like that would make it hard for us to find a cohesive sound, but actually it’s motivated us to explore our individual strengths and really play to those, and make something that stands out from everything else happening today.”
Over the past two years, IRL have proven the power of their camaraderie by performing in such far-flung places as The Philippines and Turks and Caicos, constantly turning out an unforgettably feel-good live show. “So many of our favorite moments are created on tour,” says Sergio. “We love being able to travel all over and experience as much as we can in every new place. Now we have all these memories from all around the world, and all the fans that we’ve gotten to meet there.”
As Brady points out, life on the road has also helped intensify the ever-growing connection at the heart of the band. “We’ve definitely gotten a lot closer from all these nights of just hanging out and doing crazy stuff, and you can really hear that in the music,” he says. Along with infusing an infectious energy into their music, that closeness has ultimately helped IRL to strengthen their artistic vision. “At this point we’ve all seen what we’re like at our best and our worst,” says Chance. “We know so much more about each other, and about the kind of music we want to create. We’re in a much stronger position than we ever were before, and all we want is to just keep going.”
For IRL, one of the greatest rewards of touring lies in that direct interaction with their fanbase. To that end, each member has forged a deep kinship with their fans by keeping candid and open about his own unique path through life, including Sergio’s upbringing as the son of Mexican immigrants, Chance’s journey as a young father, and Conor’s experience in being diagnosed on the autistic spectrum at age 16. “We each have a different relationship with the fans, and hopefully we can help people through different struggles by talking about what we’ve gone through in our own lives,” says Drew. “We always try to do what we can to put ourselves in their position, and be there for them as much as possible.”
Conor, 20, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, is the rebel and the rapper of the band. His mercurial wit and emotional grit keeps the band as interesting as his freestyle raps. A classically trained violinist he started playing at six and later became transfixed by the hip-hop grooves and rhymes of Jay Z, Eminem and Nas. When presented with the opportunity to audition for Boy Band, Conor was reluctant at first. “I thought that there hadn’t really been rappers in boy bands, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how that could work,” he says. “But once we started rehearsing, I saw how that could bring something fresh to the group.” In 2015 Conor was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum and his story is extremely powerful. “I will use my platform to bring an awareness to this beautiful disorder and give kids, like 16 year old Conor hope.”
22-year-old Drew grew up in The Bronx, NY, with a single mom, and busked in subways to help make ends meet. The romantic of the group, his personal devotion carries through to his impassioned vocals. In contrast to some of the other members Drew, “always knew I wanted to be on a TV competition show,” he says. The son of musical parents, Drew “loved watching American Idol and The X Factor; I’d stand in front of the mirror practicing my audition. I actually did audition for a couple of shows, but each time I’d freak out and freeze up. I’ve always been nervous performing in front of a camera, and you’ll see that in my audition for Boy Band too. But through the competition I was able to come out of my shell.”
California native Sergio, 18, is the heart of In Real Life; the first one to greet fans and make friends, he is the de-facto mayor of the group. He cites church singing and contemporary pop stars, Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth, among his influences. The son of Mexican immigrants, Sergio is fluent in Spanish and an accomplished soccer player, whose athletic prowess drew the interest of recruiters. After an unfortunate injury in a key game, during recovery he taught himself guitar and found his path to music. “I made the decision to stick to music while watching a One Direction performance,” he recalls. “They were playing Wembley Stadium, and I got chills seeing them. I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”
Chance, 22, from Seal Beach, California, is the heartthrob of the group; both mysterious and tender. A young father to 4-year-old Brooklyn, Chance is always thoughtful and poised. He began singing with his late father, Albert Perez one of his musical influences, “who would write songs that my sister and I would sing.” Chance left school early to earn his GED and joined a band that later broke up. He became a certified emergency medical technician and planned to eventually work as a firefighter. Had it not been for his love of music, Chance would have continued to pursue a career as a firefighter “But now my dream is coming true, and I’ll hopefully be able to take care of (Brooklyn) financially, doing what I love.” says Chance.
Brady, at 18, is the youngest member of In Real Life, though his resume hardly suggests inexperience. Growing up in Shorewood, Wisconsin, he suffered a severe stutter as a child, and attributes the therapy that helped him overcome this to be singing. As the showman of the band, growing up in musical theater, and singing multiple genres of music, Brady has worked professionally on TV and the stage. He was “a little skeptical” about fitting into a boy band “as a musical theater guy, I spent weeks trying to get rid of my vibrato.” But acclaimed uber producer Timbaland — one of the three judges who nurtured the contestants on Boy Band — advised him to keep it: “Timbaland liked that aspect, so it became about learning how to use it in the pop world.”
Album Release 8.23.19
On their debut album She Do, IRL channel their wide-ranging influences into a massively appealing blend of pop and hip-hop and R&B, endlessly showcasing the potent chemistry behind their creative connection. With its full-hearted harmonies and addictive melodies, next-level beats and Latin-inspired rhythms, She Do takes its title from one of IRL’s latest and most sophisticated offerings. Described by Brady as “a slightly provocative song about your affections for a female,” “She Do” unfolds in silky grooves, super-smooth vocal work, and a rap verse from Conor that boldly spotlights his complex wordplay and masterful flow.
In an especially meaningful moment for IRL, She Do features one of the first songs the band wrote and produced mostly on their own: “Don’t Go,” a powerfully hypnotic track built on an irresistible back-and-forth between English and Spanish lyrics. As Sergio explains, the song was spontaneously started in the studio, then completed in a laid-back session at Brady’s apartment. “There was no pressure in the whole process of writing or recording ‘Don’t Go,’” he recalls. “We didn’t even expect it to be on the album—we were just making it because we wanted to, and that’s why it came out so great: it’s just us having a good time doing what we love most.”
Although She Do delivers never-before-heard numbers like "Don't Go" and the stripped-back, achingly soulful “Loveless,” the album’s tracklist offers its share of fan favorites. “Because we’re all coming from such different places, it brings these very different melodies and thought processes out of us when we’re working together,” says Chance. Conor adds: “We each have our own take on what needs to happen in any particular song, and we’re able to feed off everyone’s energy in a way that creates something totally new. At the end of the day, we get the most musical inspiration from each other.”