Yet that’s exactly the position he finds himself in. As a member of the power-pop band The Click Five, whose debut album drops this week, he’s become a megastar to the TRL and Teen People magazine crowd.
The Click Five’s hit single, “Just The Girl,” is a sugary-sweet concoction that booms from the radio like The Knack did a generation ago.
During a recent phone interview, between stops on the Backstreet tour, Zehr said he’s aware of, but not concerned by, a possible backlash from older fans turned off by the group’s matching suits and screaming fans.
“We’ve opened for Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart, too,” he said, “and they draw a much older crowd, of course. But we can still get them because we have our suit thing going on, we have our strong melodies going on and that grabs a lot of different age groups. It could still happen, but we haven’t really had a lot of stumbling blocks because of the whole teen craze thing. We’re really fortunate.”
The Click’s album features contributions from the Cars’ Elliott Easton and Kiss’ Paul Stanley, who co-wrote one of the tracks, “Angel To You (Devil To Me).”
While being featured in teen magazines and being asked his favorite color and favorite type of girls is baffling — “Those kinds of questions are actually pretty hard,” he said — the upside for the band is huge. They sold 20,000 copies of an EP after touring with Ashlee Simpson and their single was the third most-added song in pop radio last week.
Their music isn’t the typical Top 40 blather, either: Their sweet harmonies are matched by hooks and riffs with a gritty edge. Reflecting that sensibility, the band tapped veteran producer Mike Denneen, who’s worked with Fountains Of Wayne, Aimee Mann and Howie Day, among others.
Still, being the darlings of the MTV set wouldn’t be complete without a Hard Day’s Night-style story of adoring fans.
“We’ve had a pretty steady stream of swamping stories ever since the Ashlee Simpson tour,” Zehr said. “The best one was the first one. We were at Universal City. We’d just played the Universal City Amphitherater and finished our set and were going to go sign autographs. We had to walk through this house to get to where we were going to sign, and as soon as we walked in the house, it was like aaaagh! The whole crowd started running towards us. We had to run up these stairs and the crowd followed us and we were pressed up against this glass. Security had to come and extract us from this sea of people. It was just insane.
“When they finally got the crowd contained, we could see our parents were standing there watching us, watching this insanity go on.”
For more information on the band, visit www.theclickfive.com.