Interview by Danny Coleman
“If we have to be away from our families we might as well make it count so it’s a collection of our best stuff,” says Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees as he discussed their current, “98° At Christmas The Holiday Tour,” the band reunion, their new release, “Let It Snow” and their upcoming Mayo PAC and Borgata shows here in New Jersey.
Formed by Timmons in 1996 along with Justin Jeffre and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey; these four lads from Ohio broke the typical, “Boy Band” mold and went on to become one of the largest selling acts of the late 90’s until they stopped performing and recording circa 2002.
Unlike others of their ilk, 98° was different in that they were not formed by a label but were signed by one after they formed on their own. With sales of over 10 million records, eight top 40 hits and a trail of broken hearts; they were a force to reckon with until they took a needed yet much longer than expected break.
“When we took the break, we really didn’t know what to expect,” explained Timmons. “Nick had the television show and Drew was on, “Dancing With The Stars” and things just kind of went on from there. We never lost touch with one another and we didn’t have some huge feud, we just went about our own lives.”
The break was more than a decade long and as they grew from young men in a, “Boy Band” into more mature artists; ironically enough it was another band from their past that helped get them back into performing.
“Yeah, wow, an 11 year hiatus,” he said with a tone of disbelief himself. “We weren’t sure what would happen when we got back together at the, “Mixtape Festival” in Hershey, PA back in 2012; we figured we’d try it and if it works we’d see where it went and it went well. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all from the Mid-west but we are all pretty grounded, there’s no egos involved and I think that’s because we all had gone in different directions and grew as artists and people so we were very happy with the reunion and we realized that we still had an appetite for it and wanted to do it. Then our friends in Boyz II Men were on a summer tour and asked us to sign on along with New Kids on the Block and it all came back full circle.”
The band has seamlessly picked up where they left off and the hiatus is in the rear view mirror but was getting back into the swing of things, especially with such signature harmonies as easy as they make it sound?
“When we got back together, as I said we didn’t know what to expect; has the music evolved or would the harmonies be hard to find? It was pretty easy for us once we got acclamation with our tones; it was just trying to find out where our voices fit in the vocal stack. Once we figured that out it was pretty easy to move forward.”
The tour kicked off on November 1 and will come to a close on December 21 and has served as a celebration of both the band’s 20 year anniversary and the holiday season. Timmons says the band is enjoying themselves immensely and experiencing, “A resurgence” in their fan base while making new ones along the way.
December 7 sees the band bring their 90 minute solo performance to the Mayo PAC in Morristown and December 15 they roll into The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Timmons says that they are rather excited to be in the area.
“It’s going to be great to be back in the Northeast,” he stated enthusiastically. “When we were first signed we spent a lot of time in the tri-state area and we really enjoy performing there. New York City, northern New Jersey, Connecticut and then around Philly have all been really good to us so we look very much forward to coming back.”
So now that they are reassembled and have released new music; what’s next after this tour concludes?
“I guess we will take it day by day. I know that we really enjoy performing in the summer so maybe we’ll do a tour then; who knows? We’ve got some things in the works so we’ll be taking it day by day.”
To discover more about the, “98° At Christmas Holiday Tour” or to purchase tickets, please visit www.98degrees.com.
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)