When rumors about his love life are spread all over the Internet or when tweets from snickering fans are given new life online by Teen Vogue or Seventeen, Drew Taggart sometimes sits in his Hollywood home and yearns for a little Freeport.

If he can’t get to Freeport, sometimes Freeport comes to him, as was the case in early January when three of his childhood friends came to Hollywood for a visit.

“We didn’t do anything special. We just went to hang out together,” said Kevin Henthorn, 26, a Freeport native who has known Taggart since kindergarten. “Even with all the craziness of being famous, nothing’s really changed between us.”

“We argued about politics, music, food, stupid stuff… It was great,” Taggart said.

Taggart and Alex Pall make up the pop music duo The Chainsmokers, which blew up in a big way this year. Their song “Closer” sat at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart for most of the last quarter of 2016, and three other songs of theirs have reached the Top 10: “Roses,” “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Paris.” The group recently signed a three-year deal to be the band-in-residence at Wynn resorts in Las Vegas, and in April Taggart and Pall begin a 40-city tour headlining arenas before crowds of 10,000 or more. Tonight Taggart will be at the 59th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, his mom at his side, listening intently to see whether he and Pall win any of the three Grammys they’re nominated for: best new artist, best pop duo/group performance and best dance recording.

Of course, with success comes the hot spotlight of old and new media. Last fall, newspapers and magazines began proclaiming The Chainsmokers pop music royalty. In January, Taggart was named as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” movers and shakers in music. Celebrity bloggers speculate about who he is or isn’t dating.

Twitter was abuzz with the shock and disapproval of fans last October when it appeared that Taggart had dissed Lady Gaga, and Halsey, with his tweets. The episode began when Pall was quoted in Rolling Stone as saying Lady Gaga’s song “Perfect Illusion” was not his cup of tea, or words to that effect. Then Halsey, who sings with Taggart on the hit “Closer,” tweeted that Lady Gaga was an icon. Then, from Taggart’s Twitter account, came a tweet calling Halsey a profane name that starts with a B, for showing support for Lady Gaga. Taggart said his account was hacked and that he’d never talk like that about a “friend.”

“It’s a crazy world, people talking about you and writing stuff about you,” Taggart said. “At times like that, I think about my family, the people who taught me to be considerate, to think about how your actions affect others. When stuff like this is getting to me, I think of (friends and family) and think about what they would do.”

Last September, celebrity websites said that Taggart and his girlfriend had split up, partly because of a steamy performance he gave singing with Halsey at the MTV Video Music Awards. Taggart didn’t want to name or discuss his girlfriend too much, except to say that he wrote some of the hit “Roses” about her. It went to No. 6 on the singles chart this week, with lead vocals by singer-songwriter Rozes. The lyrics are hopeful and earnest: “Well, I’ll be your daydream, I’ll be your favorite things; We could be beautiful; Get drunk on the good life, I’ll take you to paradise; Say you’ll never let me go.”

“My girlfriend is so much cooler than I am, so I just wrote about how cool that made me feel,” said Taggart.

So why is Taggart’s mom going to the Grammys as his date? He’s buying tickets for lots of friends and families, but he had to pick one official “date” as the person to sit next to him, the person the TV cameras will zoom in on if The Chainsmokers, and Taggart, win a Grammy.

“How cool is that?” said his mom, Laura Girr. She’s planning on wearing a gown, and Taggart’s stylist will help her choose one when she gets to California.

Girr, who works as a teacher, said it’s hard to get a hold of her son sometimes, what with time zone changes and his international touring. And in the past year or so the biggest difference she’s noticed is how much people want to know about him.

“His music has always been good and we’ve always appreciated that. But now his face is everywhere and so many people ask about him,” said Girr. “I hope, maybe for other students in Maine, they are able to look at someone doing what they love and realize they can too.”

THE BEAT WAS STRONG, BUT WORDS HAVE POWER TOO

Taggart’s mother and father, Mark Taggart, noticed his passion for music early on. When he was 5, he asked for a drum set and took lesson for years. He was only a little older than that when he started following pop music, who was at No. 1 and who was up for a Grammy. He would ask to stay up late to watch the Grammys, which end around midnight on a school night.

“Maybe that was a little late for him to being staying up, but he got so much out of watching them,” said Girr.

Taggart’s parents encouraged him to explore all kinds of learning. So when he asked if he could try to arrange a semester abroad while a junior at Freeport High, they said yes. He spent a semester in Argentina, where he fell in love with electronic music, with a dance-able beat created with the help of computer software. As a senior at Freeport High School, he created electronic music as his senior project and made a presentation explaining how to do it.

By then, he was certain about wanting a career in music. He applied for a program that specializes in the music business, at Syracuse University, and got in. Then he got an internship with Interscope Records, which lead to him deejaying at dance clubs and creating music for other musicians.

After college, while living in Freeport, a friend introduced him to Pall, who was deejaying in New York City. Soon the pair were deejaying dance clubs all over the city together and doing session work for bands.

Then, in early 2014, Taggart penned a parody song called “#Selfie,” about self-absorbed clubgoers taking selfies in the club bathroom and talking trash about other clubgoers. The video went viral, while the song went to No. 1 on the dance/electronic music chart. The success led to a recording contract, which lead to the hit records this year.

Though Taggart is a drummer and was drawn to create electronic music beats, he’s become fascinated with writing songs. He says he never wrote much in high school or college. He only started writing songs about a year and a half ago, as his music career took off, as a way to document what he was seeing and what was happening to him.

The smash hit “Closer” is based on some of the things Taggart saw and felt at Syracuse University. He said it was a kind of “culture shock” for him to see so many wealthy students in luxury cars, and the way they talked and acted seemed foreign at time.

“Closer” is about an “apathetic relationship” and is based on different relationships he had in college, Taggart said. The song has some complex rhyming and lyrics like these: “So, baby, pull me closer, in the back seat of your Rover; That I know you can’t afford, bite that tattoo on your shoulder; Pull the sheets right off the corner of that mattress that you stole; From your roommate back in Boulder, we ain’t ever getting older.”

“My escape, these days, is writing songs. Writing a song makes everything better,” Taggart said. “I really enjoy just seeing what’s going on and trying to capture one small moment in a song.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @RayRouthier

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