Pop trio We Three got their shot after their notable stint on season 13 of America’s Got Talent. Their claim to fame at that time was their well-loved audition song “Heavens Not Too Far” but it was not at all how they intended to brand themselves.
Not wanting to be the sob-story, based on “Heaven’s Not Too Far” which was written about their mother’s passing, the group re-vamped their image and has since been a force of encouragement and unity especially in the mental health community. With their latest release and full-length Dear Paranoia, Sincerely, Me they have succeeded in surpassing their first impressions, while continuing to grow as songwriters and siblings.
Guitarist and vocalist Manny Humlie was responsible for the bulk of the songs on the record but it wasn’t always that way. It was something that changed with the variations in style from sibling to sibling.
“Earlier on, we tried writing together and it just didn’t work,” Manny told American Songwriter. “We all had just such different styles and it was just a big mess. I have found such a love for songwriting and earlier on it was more of a therapy thing for me. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s a real passion for me and I want to continue to get better at it. So right now, I pretty much do all of the songwriting and then bring it to the group and we kind of decide what songs need what.”
Manny, being the primary songwriter, said it’s all about vibes for him and that will dictate how he will start a song. Sometimes he will let lyrics lead over music or vice versa, but it’s all about the ability to recapture an emotion and turn it into a song.
“If I’m writing lyrics and they give me a certain vibe then, 100 percent I will start with lyrics but it’s really just harnessing that feeling when I write,” Manny said. “And I think it’s all about being able to conjure up that feeling. And whatever brings that feeling out is what I go for. A lot of the time it’s just a guitar and singing a melody or I go into my vault where I have tons and tons of lyrics. A songwriter once told me if you have a thought write it down, it could be conversational or poetic, it doesn’t matter, at some point that will be food for thought in a song, and that’s been so useful for me.”
With the case of recent single “I Wanna Love Somebody”, Manny found that catapulting emotion in a friend’s words. During a conversation, Manny heard the phrase ‘I think I’m gonna die alone’ and it even though it was something he had heard a million times and nothing really new, it stuck with him, while also becoming a leading lyric for the song. He began to analyze the words and context of it in relation to his own life and the idea flourished.
“I just kind of took it into my own life and tried to analyze myself an put it into words,” he said. “So, I was coming at it from the view of- whether you’re in a relationship or you just got out of a relationship, I try not to pin point it too much though, because I know it’s different for everyone. But it’s basically just saying you don’t feel good enough, everyone is making more strides than you and you’re finding yourself behind, feeling like you’ll be left in the dust.”
Much of the new album is similar in that it reflects a lot on the individual and it’s a definite step forward for We Three. It’s an example of the groups developing family dynamics and ability to work together. The progressive songwriting is an evident milestone for Manny that seems to depart from some of the more somber songs they gained acclaim for in the beginning of their career.
“Heaven’s Not Too Far” was song We Three had written about a year before their appearance on America’s Got Talent. When the show’s producers heard about the chilling story behind it, they immediately reached out to We Three.
“It was written a year before we went on the show,” Manny explained. “I wrote it and put it away and not expecting anything to happen and then we got a call from AGT. They had found out our mom had passed and our story about being siblings in a band and they asked if we had a song that embodies the experience. I looked at my sister and I was like ‘well we have to play that song, there’s no way around it, that song embodies the whole experience’. So, it was just a no brainer. The only hesitation was that we didn’t want to be painted as the sob story and we worried about that.”
Looking at how each song represents a different spectrum of the group’s capabilities and the continued progression from their early days during America’s Got Talent, it’s evident that We Three is anything but a sob-story.
With their full-length under their belt, nearly bursting at the seams with 16 tracks, We Three is rejoicing in excitement but said they’re still growing as a band and family. And it’s not always easy.
“It is a day to day thing. They’re like co-workers so some days you absolutely love your co-workers and other days you don’t want to see them at all,” Manny laughed. “It’s really been learning to give each other space knowing what buttons to stay away from. We’re always progressing and learning what each of us are good at. As we get older, we can say ‘hey you’re really good at this or that’ and I think and that has helped all of us feel more important, involved and helps us get along a lot better.”
As a family and band, Manny, Bethany and Joshua can all agree the end goal for We Three is to keep writing and do everything on a bigger scale, always improving and learning. For Manny it’s more about his love of writing, which began as a therapy for him, but grew into a lifelong passion and adventure.
“I just love writing songs personally”, he said. “We’re writing constantly, it never stops. One of my favorite times to write is after a record. I think certain songs come out and they’re interesting because there’s no boundaries. When you’re writing for a record, you’re kind of trying to write specific songs that fit, but after you’ve done that, you’re just kind of writing for fun and a lot of cool songs come from that time. That’s what I’m doing now during quarantine and trying not to eat everything in the fridge.”