In the tradition of groups such as New Kids on the Block, ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, America’s next powerhouse boy band is coming together.
And two Center Grove-area residents have been at the center of the action.
Andrew Butcher and Jon Klaasen were both chosen as contestants on “Boy Band,” a singing competition currently airing on ABC every Thursday. They were among 30 of America’s best young male singers squaring off to form a new musical quintet this summer.
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Though Klaasen was eliminated from the competition during the June 29 episode, Butcher continues on. He and his group of contestants will be featured in Thursday’s episode.
“I’m really excited to get up on stage and do what I do best,” he said. “I’ve done music my entire life, so doing this is just the next step.”
“Boy Band” debuted on ABC on June 22. The singing competition is hosted by pop star Rita Ora. Former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, noted producer Timbaland and artist Emma Bunton all serve as “architects,” mentors who put the contestants in groups and help them develop their talents along the way.
All four will help coach and judge the singers throughout the competition, while viewers vote each week for their favorites. One singer is eliminated each week, and the last five standing will form the titular boy band, receiving a contract from Hollywood Records.
For Butcher, being part of the show has only solidified his desire to be a singer.
“It’s been a lot of fun, being able to do music with guys who are all my same age and have a lot of the same hobbies and talents. That’s been really, really cool. I’ve learned a lot through the process,” he said.
The 17-year-old has been interested in music for most of his life. His foray into competition came in the fifth grade, when he accepted a dare from his father to take part in the school’s talent show.
He was part of the popular local group South Six Five, which performed everywhere from WAMMfest to Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathons throughout the Midwest to the Indiana State Fair.
His musical influences include diverse voices ranging from Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Zac Brown and Steve Perry. He takes all of those different styles and melds them with his own vocal talents.
“My voice is very unique. I can do pop music, but I can also do more folksy stuff and country stuff. So that’s pretty cool,” he said.
The competition separates the singers into smaller groups to compete, and Butcher and five of his fellow singers make up Six Track. They have been working at CenterStaging, a high-profile studio in Los Angeles where they can rehearse their vocals, practice their choreography and receive direction from producers.
Preparation takes up a majority of Butcher’s week.
“We’re pretty much working all the time. It’s hard work, but hopefully it pays off in the end,” he said.
Klaasen, who also grew up in the Center Grove area, has been living in California, where he has been focused on his goal of becoming a professional musician. Five times a week, he live-streams his music from his home in Burbank to reach a growing fanbase.
Reality competitions are nothing new for him. He was chosen to appear on the third season of “The X Factor” as well as the final season of “American Idol.”
Even though his time on “Boy Band” has come to a close, Klaasen has gained much experience and guidance that will help him in his career moving forward.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve made friends that will be lifelong friends now,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful that I got as far as I did. The experience is already helping my social media grow. It’s good exposure.”
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What: An ABC reality competition that features 30 young singers vying to be chosen as the next big boy band.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays
Johnson County connection: Center Grove-area native Andrew Butcher will be performing during Thursday’s episode. Another Center Grove native, Jon Klaasen, we chosen to be on the show but eliminated on June 29.