When Joplin, Mo., native Christofer Drew started crafting tunes under the solo sobriquet of Never Shout Never – which later grew into a band – he was only 16 and was tagged a punk-pop prodigy capable of setting the alternative world on fire. But those flames never blazed. Now, at a wise, old 24, Drew has made his most clever, carefully considered NSN efforts to date. The upcoming album “Black Cat” has sing-song anthems like “WooHoo,” “Post Surrealism” and the irresistible kickoff single “Hey! We OK,” in which he notes he pays the bills with his guitar. He’ll even be teaching songwriting classes on this year’s Warped Tour.
You’re an adult now. How does it feel?
I’m feeling good about it, like it’s prime time. I’ve gotten to know myself a little better, so that’s been a plus – I’m feeling more comfortable with everything, and that was something I was lacking before, when there was all this struggle. Now it’s just kind of a flow. So I’ve definitely lightened up in the last year, for sure.
What were you struggling with?
It was just a lot of overthinking. All the time, there were family things that were stressing me out, and I had a lot of stuff weighing on my heart. And with girls, too – I was always in and out of serious relationships, growing up. Just regular teenage stuff. So now I’ve been taking it a little easier and not trying as hard, and that’s been the biggest thing for me. I’m a lot more chill.
The pressure to live up to everyone’s early expectations must have been enormous.
Yeah. I definitely had a load to carry, ever since I was 16. There really was a lot of pressure, and it was difficult at the time to try and deal with it. And I had some vices that I turned to for a long time, and that helped neutralize any overwhelming feelings that I felt. And for a time it was working out, but 21 hit and I was taking it all a little too far, and not getting enough sleep, and I finally just cracked. But you need that moment to really grow.
You’re taking songwriting more seriously now?
Yeah. Now it’s a whole different ballgame. When I first started out, it was just a way to express myself, and I was coming from a place of innocence, a more deer-in-headlights mentality. But now I see songwriting for what it is, and I’m just trying to write the best possible song I can. Before it was just an expression of emotion, but now I look at it more as an art.
IF YOU GO
Vans Warped Tour
with Never Shout Never, August Burns Red, Black Veil Brides, Blessthefall, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years, Attila, Memphis May Fire, Miss May I, Pierce The Veil, Man Overboard, Family Force 5, We Came As Romans and more
Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View
When: 11 a.m. June 20
Contact: (650) 967-3000, www.livenation.com