"Some radio stations in the UK who found out we were a boy band refused to play [our music]," said member Nathan Sykes. "They were like, ‘We love the song, but we can't play boy bands because we'll lose our credibility.'"
Added Max George: "These are like the most uncool people in the world."
Being a boy band has somewhat haunted the British based-quintet since their formation in 2009. People in the industry have tried to put the group in a box. The guys were even told at one point they'd need to learn how to dance.
"We're like, ‘No! No chance,'" Sykes recalled. "And then we moved record labels very shortly afterward."
But going to the US — and achieving some success — is a dream come true for the group. After releasing two top five albums and five hit singles in Europe, they've duplicated some of that in the US with the party jam Glad You Came, which has spent eight weeks in the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Their US manager is Scooter Braun, who also manages Justin Bieber.
"In America, before they even questioned who we were, they were like, ‘We like the song. Let's play it,'" said Jay McGuiness. "And that changed things for us."
The song has peaked at No 3 and is the first single from the band's self-titled US debut EP. The Wanted drop a full-length album this autumn. The EP features songwriting and production work by Diane Warren, Ryan Tedder, Claude Kelly, Steve Mac and Wayne Hector. And they almost recorded a song written by Adam Levine.
"It's difficult with someone like him, though," George said. "How are we going to record that and make it sound better?"
The Wanted are on the scene when boy bands have made an official comeback, with fellow Brits One Direction leading the pack. But The Wanted — whose youngest member is 18 and oldest is 23 — says the group isn't a typical boy band, mainly because they play instruments. George is on bass, McGuiness plays the drums, the piano for Tom Parker, while Sykes and Siva Kaneswaran are on guitar.
Still, they don't reject the label, despite some of the early predicaments it caused.
"I was nearly ill at the thought of being in a boy band," Sykes admitted. "But then we sat down, had a meeting and we were like, ‘No, this is how we want to do it differently. We want to have a new take on boy bands.'"
"We love all of our fans, but it isn't specially aimed at boy band fans," McGuiness said. "Our music can cross over to everyone, and we try not to cheese people out too much."