“Be who you are and don’t let anyone else tell you who to be”
Whether you’re on the soccer team or in the school band, it can be so easy to give up when things get tough. But Forever In Your Mind’s Emery Kelly, Ricky Garcia, and Liam Attridge are shining examples of what can happen when you refuse to let hardships get in the way of your dreams.
In 2013, Ricky Garcia auditioned for The X Factor in Denver, Colorado. The Texas native advanced to the Hollywood rounds, but the 14-year-old could barely sing, let alone talk, once he arrived. “It was so nerve-racking,” he says. But then he met another finalist, 15-year-old Emery Kelly, who’d auditioned in Long Island, New York. “I met Ricky and we became best friends,” says Emery.
The next day, both were cut from the competition. “I was devastated,” says Emery. “But then they called our names and I looked at Ricky and we were so excited.” Emery and Ricky comprised 2/3 of a new group that the judges put together called Forever In Your Mind. “I believe it was fate,” says Ricky. “Because we were walking around the day before and everyone was saying, ‘Hey, you two would look good in a band!”
Forever In Your Mind didn’t make it past the first night of live X Factor shows. And while the majority of groups in their position would call it quits, FIYM forged ahead, rehearsing, recording, and singing for anyone who’d listen. Their fan base was growing, and the guys were prepping for their biggest show yet – an opening slot on Digitour, where they’d perform for an audience of 10,000.
Just days before their scheduled performance, the third member of the group abruptly left. “In my mind, I’m thinking, how are we going to do this?” remembers Ricky. “It’s so easy to just quit. But me and Emery stuck it out together. We had each other’s backs at that moment. We knew we had something special.” Emery remembers the devastation. “It was a sad time,” he says. “But you can’t give up. We had hope – and that hope was Liam.”
Enter Liam Attridge, Emery’s cousin who’d ironically attended X Factor auditions with him in Long Island and even appeared on camera. At the time, Liam was starring in a community theatre production of Spring Awakening, but he wanted to be there for his cousin and agreed to accompany Ricky and Emery on guitar. So he took a train from Long Island into and met the guys at their hotel. “It was after midnight,” he says. “I’d never met Ricky before – we became instant best friends.”
The following morning, they started rehearsals. “It was kind of like fate,” says Emery. Liam went from performing for a couple hundred grownups inside a theatre to singing for thousands at a major league baseball stadium. “It was really a defining moment,” he says. Emery and Ricky knew what was next and their longtime manager, Joby Harte, called Liam and officially invited him to join the band.
Liam booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, packed two suitcases, and was on his way. “We’re brothers,” he said. “They’re the sweetest guys. I can’t imagine being in a band with anyone else.”
That was two summers ago, and this summer will be Forever In Your Mind’s hottest one yet. Nine months ago, they signed with Hollywood Records, the same record label that launched the Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato. And while they may live in Hollywood and be signed to a label of the same name, the guys are anything but. “What’s cool about how me and the guys operate is that we stay true to who we are,” says Emery. “We don’t like to put an image out there or have a façade – we like to be who we are. We all inspire each other in different ways.”
And now, they’re inspiring thousands of fans all over the world, not only with their music and personalities, but also with their perseverance. “It’s persistence and knowing that this is what you want,” says Liam. “People will start to see that spark and they’ll start supporting you because of it. You just follow a dream and it can come true – it will come true.”
Photos by Joe Magnani
Styling by Robiat Balogun
Grooming by Charles Baker Strahan