Former Drake & Josh teen star Drake Bell has established himself as a credible musician, most recently with his Brian Setzer-produced album Ready, Steady, Go!, which features several of his co-penned originals along with covers of classics by the Kinks, the Move, Queen, Billy Joel, and the Stray Cats.
But these days, Drake frequently makes the news for his outspoken criticism of a current teen star, Justin Bieber — often ending up on the receiving end of a barrage of Twitter hate from irate Beliebers. But Drake makes no apologies for speaking out about the behavior of Justin and his most outrageous fans.
"I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one day, and somebody had tweeted me a picture of Justin Bieber that had been Photoshopped with makeup or something," Drake tells Yahoo Music, explaining how the feud began. "And I thought it was funny and so I hit retweet — I just retweeted a tweet — and all of a sudden, the remarks were coming in. My fans are all pretty cool, you know; I've never really seen anybody fighting on Twitter, no death threats, no harsh language, no gay slurs, nothing like that. But when I hit retweet on this tweet, the floodgates were open: death threats, slurs.
"And I'm assuming they're all his fans, so they've gotta be, what? Twelve years old? Ten years old? So it's like, 'My God, where are your parents?' So I started kind of just retweeting some of the ones that were really harsh and saying, 'Hey guys, this is not how we should talk.'"
From that moment on, Drake has had to deal Justin's angriest fans… which made Drake question how Justin interacts with his impressionable young following. Speaking about a "Cut for Bieber" Twitter trend (which was later revealed to be a hoax), in which fans were tweeting photos of what appeared to be girls carving Justin's name into their arms to protest his drug use, Drake has issues with the fact that Justin never spoke up. "I'm like, man… silence. Silence. Wouldn't you [if you were Justin] come out and be like, 'Hey guys, I made a mistake, but this is not how to handle it'? Make a self-harm campaign? Do something? But he's very irresponsible, in my opinion, as far as his fans go."
I haven't listened to much Justin Bieber but his songs must be full of hate and rage because that's what his believers are filled with..— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) July 23, 2012
Drake also cites Justin's response to criticism he received from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney last year as an example of his irresponsibility. "With Patrick Carney, Justin says, 'Oh, he should be slapped around.' Well, he just told 40 million little kids: 'Hey man, when someone says something, go beat him up.' Dude, just be like, 'Ha ha ha, love your music, Black Keys, peace out!'"
When will it end??!! Are we really STILL putting up with this?! pic.twitter.com/vHNvVNIpX6— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) May 15, 2014
Drake, now 27, explains that his desire to speak out comes from his own experience as a child star who grew up in the spotlight. "You know, we didn't get into this business to be role models. We got into it to express ourselves artistically," he admits. "But it comes with the territory. I've been in this business for a long time, I've been doing this for 22 years, and I've always had a young fanbase. And they've been able to grow with me. I think someone with like Justin, it's so quick for him that he maybe hasn't seen what I've seen.
"I mean, I'm very close with my fans. I'm very involved with my fans, so I've seen the influence that I can have on a child or on the mind of somebody. And I'm fanatical with the people that I look up to. So I know that if I ask someone for an autograph and they go, 'Hey, don't bother me,' how crushing that is to me. So yeah, I just think that we didn't get into it to be role models, but there definitely is a responsibility we need to take… We're going to be human and we are going to make mistakes, but you really should understand the power that you have and embrace it in a positive way."