The summer of 2016 hasn't even arrived yet, but it's already heating up... literally!
Fans of the late '90's/early 2000's vocal groups, 98°, O-Town, Dream, and solo artist, Ryan Cabrera, are in for a special treat, as all four chart-topping artists have just announced that, together, they'll be embarking on a magical tour (and a spectacular reminder of some of our childhoods!) this July!
Now’s the time for us to get out there and let loose and have a good time with the fans who’ve been there for us for years.
98°, whose major success stemmed from hits like 'Because Of You' and 'The Hardest Thing,' are touring for the first time in three years after selling out venues on 'The Package Tour' with Boyz II Men and New Kids On The Block in 2013, but this is the first time in nearly two decades that they'll actually be headlining the bill again.
Jeff Timmons, one of the group's founding members, and pioneer of their return, tells AXS content contributor, Ashley Marie Lewis, that there's nothing but excitement engulfing every artist who'll be gracing the stage on the cleverly titled My2KTour this summer.
JT: We hadn’t been out for a long time before [The Package Tour]. Seeing the response we’d gotten from that and being with each other," he says, is what inspired them to independently organize this tour. "We’re headlining. It’s been over sixteen years since we headlined a tour. We’re gonna dance a little more, we’re gonna do more covers, and most importantly, we’re gonna have a lot more fun. Now’s the time for us to get out there and let loose and have a good time with the fans who’ve been there for us for years.
AML: So, the big question is... How did 98° reconnect with O-Town?
JT: I was working with Nick Carter [of the Backstreet Boys] and Erik Estrada from O-Town. We were talking about Dead 7 [a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller that was penned and produced by Carter, featuring an array of members from the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, O-Town, and *NSYNC] at The Roosevelt Hotel on The Strip [in Las Vegas]. One of the girls from Dream runs food and beverage [at the hotel].
Of course, it's nearly impossible for musicians to converge without the topic of touring entering the playing field... and that’s exactly what happened. When they decided to set out on the tour of a lifetime, it was a no-brainer to inquire if Dream would be interested in reuniting, too. Timmons says that they eagerly jumped on board, stating that the girl group, best known for their debut single, ‘He Loves U Not,’ had already been in discussion of getting back together with all of its original members.
AML: But didn't the competition between these ‘boybands’ to outrank each other on the charts spark bitter rivalries over the years?
JT: It’s like a fraternity. We were influenced by Boyz II Men. I was in sports in my hometown [of Canton, Ohio] and heard Boyz II Men and was like, ‘I want to be in a group like this.’ I’m happy to be a part of that fraternity. There was never a rivalry between Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, No Authority… We had a mutual respect for those guys. [When the topic of a rivalry would come up], we’d give a nod and say, ‘we appreciate you.’ I had a blast with them. I was a member of their group [when they filmed ‘Dead 7’]. They’re all-around funny ass guys.
While many groups lose touch as they go their separate ways during a hiatus, Timmons states that 98° made sure to never break the bond they shared, calling to check on each other and their families, even while its members were embracing busy schedules of their own outside of the group.
JT: We’re kind of like brothers. There’s a certain camaraderie there that you can’t even explain to your family.
But fans have his wife, Amanda, to ultimately thank for the group getting back together.
JT: I reluctantly hosted The Chippendales back in the day. My wife talked me into it. It’s not just about stripping and grinding on girls like back in the day... She was like, ‘Get out there. It’ll put your name out there.’ [We thought] it might sort of ignite something else, and that’s what it did. The Chippendales was a catalyst for getting 98° back together.
Mrs. Timmons’ encouragement for her husband to flaunt his toned, sculpted body for The Chippendales didn’t only bring new music back into the ears of the quartet’s fans (98° released their fourth studio album, ‘2.0,’ in 2013, debuting ‘Microphone’ as their most recent single), but also inspired him to organize a similar entertainment group, ‘Men Of The Strip,’ which has had incredible success, and will be taking residency in Las Vegas, along with some stops in Canada, later this year.
While his athletic physique may be jaw-dropping, it's still no match for his powerful vocals that blend so perfectly with his soulful brothers, Nick, Drew, and Justin, who, together, create a sound that many other artists only aspire to have.
JT: Although we’re not putting out new music now, it’s all about the music [and the] harmonizing. What you hear live in concert is actually us, no tracks. We sing everything live and there’s a personal experience.
Timmons, however, is still writing on his own, preparing to release new music for a TV show on the Science Channel, and has no doubt that the four will sit down and brainstorm together eventually.
It's no surprise that, even after all of these years, he's just as humbled from this opportunity to hit the road with his best friends as he was sixteen years ago when 98° was at its peak in the industry.
JT: I feel lucky. When I intended on putting this group together, I thought we could go out there, we could have fans, we could make money. We had fans that were nine years old to twenty years old, [and now fans that are] twenty years old to forty years old… If you put that into perspective, you’re really lucky to have any of that going on. People are excited about you and it’s really a blessing.
A blessing, indeed... and an even bigger one for the fans.