It’s not a career path he recommends to others. But for Christofer Drew, dropping out of high school in Joplin, Mo. — even though he always attended gifted classes — was the only way forward for his pop-punk alter ego, Never Shout Never.
The waifish intellectual was teased by teachers, bullied by jocks and jilted by the sweetheart he trusted.
“I used to get drug-tested at school every week because people thought I was this weird druggie kid,” recalls the singer, 19. “I just always got made fun of, so by the time I was 16, I’d officially dropped out. Then even my parents said ‘he’s a failure’ and they kicked me out of the house, so I wound up living in my car.”
But living well is the best revenge.
Drew poetically evokes those dark days on “The Past,” an elegiac ballad that closes his brilliant, Butch Walker-produced bow for Warner Bros.’ “What Is Love?”
After several self-marketed EPs, Drew — who headlines the Alternative Press Tour at the Regency Ballroom next week — is proving naysayers wrong with tintinnabulating charmers such as “California” and the handclap-happy “Love Is Our Weapon.”
The title echoes his signature chest tattoo, which reads “Love is my weapon.” It’s also his life philosophy.
“I got that tattoo when I was 17, and it hurt,” says the mop top, who’s becoming a teen heartthrob. “But I wanted to get it, because I’ve always thought that the best way to make someone realize the truth is by showing them love, literally just pouring love from your being. Like, ‘You did that to me, but it’s OK because I am not going to do the same to you.’ Showing love to people who don’t deserve it is the best thing you can do.”
Initially, Drew’s tennis-coach father had high hopes for his son, who showed promise on the court. Sidelined by a shoulder injury, he discovered dad’s old Bob Dylan/Beatles collection and strummed along on guitar.
“I felt like I’d found something that I actually liked, that I could stay with,” he says. “So I just started playing music.” Then he posted his ditties on MySpace.
Still, the dropout ignored his own advice when he recently revisited his alma mater to lunch with his kid sister.
“All my old teachers were there, and they wanted to know everything about me,” he says. “But I said, ‘Honestly, you guys weren’t the best to me in high school. So I don’t really want to talk about this stuff.’ And I don’t ever want to go back there again!”
IF YOU GO
Never Shout Never
Headlining the AP Tour 2010
Where: The Regency Ballroom, 1290 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com