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At The Grove
189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles (Mid-City West)
It seems like every few years a new crop of boy bands takes root and infiltrates every corner of pop culture. Los Angeles' contribution to the current wave of boy bands is Midnight Red.
Brought together by A&R executive/Kings of L.A. label founder Pete Farmer and producer RedOne (Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj) in 2009, Midnight Red is comprised of two L.A. natives – Joey Diggs Jr. and Eric Secharia – and three transplants – Thomas Augusto from Arlington, Texas; Anthony Ladao from Seattle, Wash. and Colton Rudloff from Buffalo, N.Y. – who are enjoying the diversity of the city.
"Everyone out here is different, and it's cool. When I go back to Seattle, sometimes people look at me like an alien because of the way I dress," shares Anthony.
"Los Angeles is so culturally rich that you learn a lot, you start making new friends," adds Thomas. "Your eyes are open to something larger when you come from a small town."
"I've met a lot of different kinds of people," says Colton. "One of the benefits of being in a big town is that there is a lot to do wherever you are. I've definitely gotten to experience things that I would never have gotten to living in Buffalo."
The guys and I meet at the Grove for one such event, Sean Kingston and Chris Rene performing a free show as part of the entertainment center's Summer Concert Series.
"I haven't been here to the Grove in a bit, but I used to come a lot," says Thomas. "We've always wanted to perform here."
"It's cool seeing artists shut down the Grove. It gets so packed," says Anthony. "I remember when the Jonas Brothers were here. I was just shopping, and there was so many people that they closed the stores."
Being surrounded by huge crowds of fans is something the quintet got used to when they were chosen as the opening act for the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys tour last summer. After two years together, Midnight Red were releasing a digital EP, One Club at a Time, and embarking on their first mega tour.
"At the end of every day we got to perform at sold-out arenas, and we were well received. It was a dream come true," says Thomas.
"[On a tour like that] you learn who everyone else is. It brings you closer," says Eric.
"We had never traveled together all that much, and then we traveled thousands of miles together. We came back from that tour as something to be reckoned with," says Colton.
"It started becoming more real," adds Thomas. "After that point, we were Midnight Red. I realized that these guys are the ones I'm going to be around for the rest of my life!"
As with all bands, Midnight Red is a tight-knit unit with their own set of family dynamics.
"I remember it was my second day of rehearsing with these guys, and Eric and Thomas got into it. I was like, 'Oh my god, what am I getting myself into?' because it was this crazy childish rant between the two of them," shares Colton. "They still have them, but it's way toned down now."
"That happened today actually," says Thomas.
"When you're together with people a lot, tensions are created no matter what. But we'll talk it out," says Eric. "I don't have friends [everyone laughs]. It is kind of true though. These guys are my best friends."
Joey has introduced the guys from out of state to one of his favorite parts of being an Angeleno: In-N-Out.
"I like going to In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out's in a few states now, but it originated in Cali and I worked there for five years," he says. "It's one of the best burgers I've had in my life."
Growing up in Los Angeles with a professional singer for a father, Joey has his share of significant concert memories.
"Whether it's new school like Kanye West and Chris Brown or it's old school like Jeffrey Osborne and Rod Stewart because of my dad, I like seeing both sides: how the old school handled their business, and how it's done nowadays. Blending the two together, trying to take what's best from each corner and make it one, is pretty fun."
Joey's not the only member who had an interest in becoming a performer at a young age. Eric started singing when he was 6 and dancing at 12. Thomas' family dubbed him the "little entertainer" when he was a child. Colton's passion for singing expressed in YouTube videos led to his invitation to join the band. Anthony distinctly remembers being bitten by the performance bug.
"It was watching an Usher performance, just the way he moved on stage. It made me realize that this is what I want to do with my life. From that moment on, it was all about dancing and music," he remembers.
Anthony's first dance teacher, Bryan Tanaka, was also a big influence, and he's one choreographer/producer that Midnight Red would love to work with in the future.
"I look up to him," says Anthony. "To have him back in my career with the group – that would be pretty cool."
Thomas adds, "Bryan Tanaka's playing with the big dogs – Beyoncé, Rihanna, Usher, J-Lo – so it would be a dream come true. "
"Rihanna would be awesome to collaborate with too," interjects Anthony.
"Yeah, Rihanna would
be incredible," Thomas agrees. "She's a pop star, but she's
edgy in a sense. It would be a cool match for us because I don't think
we're necessarily the typical boy band. We have a little bit of the
rough edges, we're a bit different."