Ethan Duer is a rising senior at Rider University. A.D. Wells is a rising musical star whose self-recorded album, The West Hollywood Broken Hearts Club, has already reached more than 800 streams on Spotify.
They share in these accomplishments because they are the same person. Musically, the 21-year-old Duer goes by the name A.D. Wells. The Hopewell resident planned for his solo record to be his summer project, completing it in May and releasing it on June 4.
“I was able to accomplish it fast because it was something I was doing on my own,” he says.
The album recorded by his alter ego features eight tracks infused with mellow indie and alternative sounds such as “Crush” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
Duer says he wrote the record in his college dorm room, completing the recording of it in his room at his Hopewell home.
On the tracks that he considers “lounge rock,” Duer can be heard singing, playing bass, guitar, a keyboard, and the keyboard’s drum machine, all of which he recorded separately and mixed together with Garage Band.
His songs explore darker themes of the realities of life such as chasing down a dream and not being able to attain it as well as the concept of running from something.
“I hope for listeners that they will find it relatable,” he says.
The inspiration for The West Hollywood Broken Hearts Club came after Duer visited California for the first time in March. He stayed in West Hollywood, where he witnessed the glamor of Hollywood stardom side by side with the homelessness within it.
“People chasing down something that they can’t find, paired with Hollywood, and paired with my own personal experiences of being 21; that’s where my creativity began,” he says.
His stage name “A.D. Wells” comes from the first initial of his middle name, Alexander, and the first initial of his last name. He says he chose “Wells” because he liked how it sounded along with the initials.
Duer discovered his love of music after attending his first U2 concert with his dad, John Duer.
“It made me realize how powerful music was,” he says of the night that made him decide he wanted to learn music. In the years that followed, Duer taught himself how to play bass, guitar, and the keyboard.
In his time at Hopewell Valley Central High School, Duer focused on athletics, running cross country and track. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he started writing music.
“I was faced with this time where I was yearning for creativity and this sense of self expression.”
Freshman year of college he ran track until stopping due to an injury. He created a duo band with his college friend Tom Long, called Sophomore, which he still is involved with.
Duer, who is an only child, says dad John and mother Rhonda are extremely supportive of his music career.
“Since they believe in me, it makes me believe in myself,” he says.
At Rider, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public relations. He says he will pursue a career in that field alongside pursuing success in the music industry.
“I plan to keep on writing and hopefully keep getting listened to, along with having fun,” says Duer.
He is currently working on a second album, which he hopes to complete by early next year.