by Chelsea Gunter, features staff writer
98 Degrees broke into the music industry in 1998 with its debut album “98 Degrees and Rising,” which included the hit singles “Because of You” and “I Do (Cherish You).” The band earned multi-platinum records, sold more than 11 million CDs, earned eight Top-10 singles and a Grammy nomination.
After 98 Degrees separated, Jeff Timmons, the founder of the group, began working on his solo career. In August 2004, he released his first solo album, “Whisper That Way,” which gave him Top 20 hits on both the Billboard and Radio & Records charts.
Jeff Timmons spoke with the Collegiate Times over the phone. He discussed his past with 98 Degrees, his career after the group
and his album that was released for free last December.
COLLEGIATE TIMES: How are you today? Where are you today?
JEFF TIMMONS: Good. I’m in Laguna Beach interviewing with some tech guys about my upcoming CD.
CT: The 98 Degrees official Web site was last updated in 2004 claiming that 98 Degrees is not breaking up. Is that still true? Can fans expect a reunion?
TIMMONS: Yeah. We did not break up, but we all decided to go in a different direction. I had a family and two kids that I wanted to spend time with, Drew was on “Dancing with the Stars,” Nick was involved with his “Newlyweds” reality TV show, and Justin decided to go into politics. We all wanted to do our own thing. I don’t see us
getting back together anytime soon, but it could happen.
CT: Then you began working on your solo CD, “Whisper That Way,” which was released in 2004. Why did you decide to stay involved in the music industry?
TIMMONS: I love music. I was originally involved with a band in Ohio until I decided to pursue music in L.A. I love being in the studio. I fell in love with it. I wanted to stay involved because I still wanted to try music, experiment and write. My love for
music never stopped, even when we got off the road.
CT: How do you feel about your first solo CD?
TIMMONS: I feel like it was an accomplishment because I did it by myself. I wrote some songs with my friends and it was a young effort. It was not very polished and it wasn’t the same big time production I was used to. I wasn’t satisfied. Most artists believe that there is always something you can do better. I over did it and I didn’t officially know what I wanted to do with my music yet. It was a great experience, and at the end of the day I like
how it helped me become a better producer and artist.
CT: After you released your first solo album, you participated in the VH1 reality TV show “Mission: Man Band” in 2007. The show attempted to form a new group with various members of successful pop acts in the past. How did that experience go for you?
TIMMONS: VH1 as well as MTV used to be powerful tools within the music industry. They used to decide who made it and who didn’t. As a group or an artist you needed their support. To be honest, I never wanted to do it. Reality TV is never reality. However, VH1 agreed to a lot of stuff for my upcoming CD so I got involved.
None of us were intending on forming a group. We were all there in order to work on and promote our own projects. The guys I was working with are all talented and dedicated artists
who sold millions of records as well.
While the show was not successful, the experience was fantastic. It was a difficult situation that tested me as a person. You can only get stronger from adversity and being with those guys was
CT: What made you decide to release another album?
TIMMONS: “Whisper that Way” was good but not good enough, so I decided it was time to get back into the studio.
CT: How do you feel about your new album?
TIMMONS: It’s been a very difficult process, but I’m very happy with my songs. It’s a totally different album. I worked with my old band writing songs. It was like a party where things weren’t over thought. We worked on a lot of club songs with a variety of tempos. I am happy and proud of the work. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be releasing the album for free.
CT: Why did you decide to release the album for free?
TIMMONS: It is extremely expensive to get your song on the radio. I have a lot of friends in the radio business that will play it. However, I’m totally non-traditional. I wrote my own album and most people don’t do that. All the traditional boundaries are coming down now. I want my music out there and I want to get more fans. In the future this might be the way that music is released. Selling CDs is too expensive and record companies won’t reduce the prices, so people get online and download the music instead. This is a way for fans to get the music. If they choose to download my
music then it gets out there and people get to see what I’m doing as an artist. If I give it away for free then it’s not about the money, it’s all about the music.
CT: Releasing a free album must be expensive. How can you afford to release your music for free?
TIMMONS: I can’t. It is not something I can make money off of. But, I just pay for the Web site tracking fees so fans can download my music.
CT: Do you miss 98 Degrees? Have you found any challenges as a solo artist?
TIMMONS: You’re always going to have challenges. Our group had a million challenges. We were a very hands-on group. The challenge of what the label wanted to sound like was a problem. I used to originally miss it. We had fans and sold millions of records, so we lived the dream and traveled across the world. But there was no time off. As a solo artist, I like it better. If I was in a group I couldn’t give my record away for free.
CT: You created a multimedia distribution company called iamMedia. What made you decide to form this company?
TIMMONS: Originally I was going to record companies, but it’s getting harder to distribute CDs in stores. For example, Wal-Mart isn’t happy with the music business so they’re about to get rid of CDs altogether. I wanted to make records more available in highly trafficked stores like grocery stores or gas stations, so I partnered up with a guy who distributes to these types of stores.