Before You Exit: Brotherly love, and loving the sounds

Becky Harms with the brother band Before You Exit.

Becky Harms with the brother band Before You Exit.

By Becky Harms

The Jackson 5.


The Jonas Brothers.

What do these famous bands all have in common?

At first thought, not much. Yes, they’re all bands, but they were popular decades apart and have very different musical styles.

So, why group these three bands together?

Well, for starters, they’re all boy bands. But not the stereotypical ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, One Direction type of boy band that we’ve all come to love (or maybe hate).

What makes these bands unique is that they’re all bands made up of brothers.
Before You Exit, a group of three brothers from Orlando, Florida, could very well be remembered alongside those three names one day.

LSY! caught up with Connor, Riley and Toby McDonough backstage during their Dangerous Tour in Pittsburgh, where they explained what makes their band unique.

“When other bands bond they (say), ‘We’re like brothers,’ but we actually are brothers and you can’t take that away,” said Riley, the 18-year-old lead singer.

“We grew into it. It’s not like we were all just put together,” added Toby, 16, who also sings and plays various instruments for the band.

But the fact that they’re all brothers is not the only quality that separates them from other bands.

Even those made up of all brothers.

They add three part harmonies to almost all of the choruses, creating a unique blend of all three voices that make the hearts of teenage girls melt.

Alone, each one has an incredible voice.

But together, they are able create a sound that is completely different from other boy bands and makes all the girls in the audience scream.

The amazing trio of voices isn’t the only thing that gets the crowd excited.

“It’s energetic and upbeat, and we’re always trying to jump and get everybody interacting with us,” Toby said.

Toby McDonough of Before You Exit with Becky Harms. (Photo by Natalie Brophy)

Toby McDonough of Before You Exit with Becky Harms. (Photo by Natalie Brophy)

And that definitely works.

During the concert, it was obvious that the crowd was having just as much fun singing and dancing along to the music as the brothers were performing on stage.

“We try to have the best time we possibly can and we always feed off the crowd and their energy,” oldest brother Connor, 20, said.

Their concerts never fail to please the crowd. But their incredible energy isn’t the only thing that gets their fans’ hearts racing.

The music they write has a powerful message along with catchy, upbeat rhythms. They always seem to find just the right way to portray their idea in each song.

And, believe it or not, the lyrics come quite easily to the brothers.

“A lot of times you’ll be accidently singing a song title or a song that you’ve always wanted to write about,” said Riley.

They have creative lyrics that touch subjects many fans can relate to.

“We start taking personal experiences that we go through and mold them into the song,” Connor said.

The lyrics in each song allow fans to easily connect to the band after realizing that they’ve gone through a similar situation—creating a strong bond between the band and their fans.

Connor said that his favorite lyric, from the song “Soldier,” written by Riley, is “You’ve got holes in your jeans, and a few in your heart.”

“It’s so hard to pick a favorite lyric. You have so much connection to different lyrics,” Riley said.

But it’s not only in their own songs that the boys reach out to their fans.

They cover songs by popular artists and add their own twist to it that shows their talent in a different way.

They have covered many songs from mashing together two popular Justin Bieber songs to songs by Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Fun.

How can the brothers come to an agreement on a cover?

It is actually very simple.

“It’s one of our favorite songs at the time and we’ll go into each other’s room and be like, ‘Dude, do you like this song?’” Toby said.

One brother may say to another “I love this new song,” and they agree to cover it. Another may add, “Oh we should put it with this song because they would go well together,” and from there they create their own individualized versions of popular songs.

And they nail each cover every time.

“We switch it up, whether it be harmonies or different instruments and hopefully we’ve done a good job of it so far,” Riley explained. “When we do our covers we also try to make sure it’s not just a karaoke version.”

The covers are not only a different, fun way for the band to express themselves, but also to reach out to even more fans and hopefully gain a few more in the process.

“Covers are a really cool way for us to get out there for more people,” Connor stated. “It’s really cool for us to get out other ways.”

Before You Exit hopes that one day Rascal Flatts, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars or John Mayer will cover one their songs. That would be a new way the band could branch out and attract a wider audience.

“We’re so grateful to have so many people supporting us all along the way and we have many more to come. It’ll be great to see where it goes in the future,” Connor said.

Although they have so many adoring fans, they are not immune to criticism and hate, especially through the computer on websites such as Facebook and YouTube.

The best advice they give is to not read into it.

“People are always hating out there on everyone. I’ve seen the most talented people on YouTube get hate,” Connor said. “It’s just people sitting on their computer taking shots through their keyboard.”

“And also you can’t hate on the haters because that makes you a hater,” Toby said. “So don’t hate. Appreciate.”

Living on the road, writing music, having adoring fans and dealing with Internet hate can put a lot of stress on the young McDonough brothers. To release all of the stress and pressure the band said to just take deep breaths.

“Don’t take it so seriously,” Riley said. “Have fun and do what you love. If you’re all stressed and tense you’re not going to be the way you would normally.”

Riley and Connor McDonough with Becky Harms. (Photo by Natalie Brophy)

Riley and Connor McDonough with Becky Harms. (Photo by Natalie Brophy)

The band has gone from playing a concert for three people to playing for a room packed with screaming fans singing along to every lyric. They have worked hard to get this far and have gained a fan base full of love and support.

What’s the secret for how far they’ve gotten?

“The big thing for us is to be grateful for where we are and enjoy the moment. If you’re always looking up trying to get up there, you’re never going to enjoy the moment that you’re in,” Connor stated.

“We’re just pushing until we run out of gas,” said Toby.

One last thing that sets these guys apart from other bands is their name, “Before You Exit.” For Connor, Riley and Toby, the name has a very special meaning.

From the beginning, it has been their goal to make an impact on the world, which they have certainly succeeded in doing so at this point in their careers. They want to inspire people to do great things during their time on Earth, before they exit.

Which prompts the question: What do you want to do before you exit?

(To find out my answer, check back later this week. Here’s a hint: Ever heard of a promposal… Riley?)

Becky Harms in a senior in Live! Starring … You!’s program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo.

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