Saturday, November 11, 2017

From boy band to Broadway and back: 98 Degrees performing at Riverside Saturday

Alison Gowans

    Twenty years since they first crooned their way into fan’s hearts, 98 Degrees is back — although this time their music focuses on snow more than heat.
    The four-man vocal band, which includes brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons, will stop at Riverside Casino Saturday (11/11) on the “98° at Christmas” tour, promoting a new album of holiday music, “Let it Snow.”
    The quartet got its start at the height of the boy-band craze with a self-titled debut in 1997, followed quickly by “98° and Rising,” in 1998; the band’s first Christmas album, “This Christmas,” in 1999; and “Revelation” in 2000. After a hiatus, the members, today in their early 40s, returned to the studio to release “2.0” in 2013.
    Drew Lachey told Hoopla the timing just felt right for a second holiday album.
    “A lot of it has to do with the fact we were so proud of our last Christmas album,” he said. “It’s been almost 20 years since we put it out, so it made sense to do this now.”
    The new album shows off the signature sound of smooth vocal harmonies, with a mix of upbeat pop songs like “What Christmas Means to Me,” hymns like “What Child is This” and a cappella numbers like “Let it Snow.”
    “We have kids now, so we put some songs on there for them,” Lachey said. “We have a song list for this CD that reflects where we are in our lives.”
    He said the potential is there for more new albums and tours in the future.
    “As long as we continue to enjoy making music together, we’ll just keep going. As long as we continue to challenge ourselves, and the fans want to hear it, we’ll continue to make music,” he said.
    Their sold-out Riverside performance will include a mix of Christmas songs and some of their non-holiday hits.
    “It’s a different format than you normally do at a concert. It’s more of a Christmas show than a concert. We’re playing more intimate venues than we normally do,” Lachey said.
    He doesn’t mind singing songs two decades old, he said with a laugh.
    “Once you’re performing them in front of a crowd and the crowd is feeding off them ... once the fans are singing along with us, I don’t know how you don’t enjoy performing that,” he said. “And there’s nothing worse than going to a show, and they don’t play your favorite song.”
    Lachey’s career has spanned a wide swath of the entertainment industry, from music to a turn on television’s “Dancing with the Stars” — which his brother Nick also has starred on — to Broadway. He played Mark Cohen in “Rent” in 2005 and Patsy in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” in 2008.
    “Doing Broadway, to me, is the top,” he said, “to be around so many incredibly talented people that give so much to their craft and I have so much respect for.”
    But he said his favorite role so far has been at Lachey Arts, the Cincinnati-based organization he and his wife, Lea, started to focus on arts education for kids through a summer camp program.
    “Most of the band went to the performing arts school here in Cincinnati,” he said. “We are very open about the fact we probably wouldn’t be where we are today without going to a performing arts school. I hope I can help shape some of the young lives that I work with here.”
    His advice for such aspiring young performers?
    “Make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. Don’t do it because you want to be rich,” he said. “If you’re doing it for the joy of performing and the creativity, no one can ever diminish that or take it away.”

    Drew Lachey talks about career of making music