Friday, February 17, 2012

Timmons: 98 Degrees reunion possible

By Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) 

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The band might have disbanded, but for Jeff Timmons, once an artist always an artist.| Zoom
MANILA, Philippines - It’s been a decade since the American boyband 98 Degrees bowed out from performing as a group, but its founding member Jeff Timmons is not crossing out the possibility of a reunion onstage.
98 Degrees, whose other members were brothers Nick and Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre, reached multi-platinum status in the late ’90s as it popularized songs like Because of You, The Hardest Thing, I Do (Cherish You), Thank God I Found You, Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche), My Everything, True To Your Heart and Invisible Man. It was among the frontrunners of the boyband craze, joining the likes of N*Sync and Backstreet Boys.
“There’s always a chance,” Jeff tells The STAR in a phone interview, which was arranged in relation to his Manila concert with British boybands A1 and Blue come Feb. 25 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Because the communication lines with his former bandmates have remained open all these years — in fact, they just bonded a couple of months ago in Las Vegas — naturally, getting together onstage has had been a subject discussed.
Jeff, nevertheless, admits that among them four, it might not be that easy for Nick, in particular, to join in. “Nick is a celebrity so 98 Degrees and the music are probably the last thing on his mind. But he’s an artist, so you’ll never know what will happen. There’s always a chance (for a reunion).”
Jeff Timmons, founding member of 98 Degrees, will join British boybands A1 and Blue in a concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 25.
It was Jeff who founded 98 Degrees in the mid-‘90s. “I originally started the group when I was in college. It was by happenstance. I was at a party in college, some girls just wanted to hear some singing. And we sang for these girls, and I saw their reaction, and I thought ‘man, I should start a singing group.’ I was supposed to be a lawyer or a psychologist since I was in college then. But when I saw the reaction of the girls, I thought maybe that was the way I should go, since they thought we were cool.”
98 Degrees made its breakthrough in the music scene in 1998, consequently releasing four albums that all went platinum. Jeff remembers very well the other highlights of the group’s career — sharing the stage with some of the A-listers in the industry from Mariah Carey to Stevie Wonder; hearing the songs they made being played for the first time in a radio station in L.A.; and hanging out with some beneficiaries of Make-A-Wish Foundation, whose dying wish was to meet the group in person. “To be part of something like that, that’s the best I’ve done in my whole life,” says Jeff.
Then the tragedy of September 9, 2011 happened. “We were very popular, we were touring around the world. Our last performance was with (the late) Michael Jackson. Then 9-11 happened. That was how it ended for us. It was a clear sign for us to go home to our families and gather our personal lives. The facade of being a famous singer was, all of a sudden, small. When that kind of stuff happens, you realize, maybe there are other things more important,” Jeff shares.
No doubt those times, when the band was at its peak, brought them a cache of incredible experiences, but Jeff has since moved on, without regrets or intense longing to relive it. “When you’re going through life, and developing things, yes, you’re going to miss things like performing with somebody like Stevie Wonder, etc. But no, I think I’m happy with my new course and my new life.”
Jeff (rightmost) with (from left) Justin Jeffre, Nick and Drew Lachey.
For the past years, he released a solo album, starred in a VHF reality series, put up his own multimedia distribution company, and was “just making music and creating all the time, and if I could create (or) make a living out of it, raise my kids, be a dad, be a good husband, I think those are the important things for me.”
Jeff hopes, though, to share some of what he has been working on when he performs at the Feb. 25 Big Dome concert mounted by Wilbros Live, apart from singing the 98 Degrees favorites of Pinoy fans. He’s also looking forward working with the concert’s Filipino musical director, South Border’s Jay Durias.
Jeff fondly recalls that with 98 Degrees, he had been previously here for a concert three times already. Among his most memorable moments was “traveling around the Philippines, riding the jeepney and all that stuff. Everybody’s got to try the jeepney. You have stickers, art and graphics on them. It’s amazing.”
He adds, “The Filipino fans are great. But one thing is for sure, Filipino girls and guys can sing. It was a dilemma for us when we went to a restaurant and they were passing around a microphone, and we were like, can we hang out with these people? They’re singers! It was a very eye-opening experience.”
When asked if he thinks the boyband craze will make a comeback, Jeff says he believes so, adding that “I think there will always be fans of young guys, who look good and who can sing.”
Looking back on the success he enjoyed as part of 98 Degrees, he says it was something that wasn’t unattainable. Any budding artist can make things like that happen for them. “It’s not a goal that can’t be reached. It’s something that can be done by anybody. But you also have to put your work into it. Do your best, be humble, be appreciative, strive to be at your best from the very beginning.”