FanSided spoke with Big Brother wrestling superstar Jessie Godderz and 98 Degrees’ founding vocalist Jeff Timmons about “The Girl is With Me” music video.
Fresh off his Space Pecs appearance on Big Brother, “Mr. Pec-Tacular” Jessie Godderz recently teamed up with 98 Degrees’ world renowned singer Jeff Timmons for “The Girl is With Me,” a throwback to classic hits of the 90s. The light hearted music video for the new single is evanescent in nature, yet captures a certain universal moment in life. Two friendly rivals trying to impress and win over a romantic interest while sending verbal jabs and not-so-subtle body language for the other to make their exit. In this case, “Mr. Pec-Tacular” and Timmons vie to win the heart of Big Brother’sMorgan Willet in the “The Girl is With Me” music video!
FanSided spoke to the star vocal duo about what went into the making of “The Girl is With Me” single in the studio, inspirations for its amusing music video, and how the whole project began originally from LinkedIn to liftoff.
FanSided.com: I read on PEOPLE that you guys essentially created this whole project off a LinkedIn conversation originally! Which is pretty fun to imagine. Did it originally go, “Hey, you wanna be on Men of the Strip?” and Jessie was like “Nahhh brahh,” is that how the whole conversation started?
Jeff Timmons: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s exactly right! He was like, “No bro,” he was not interested in hosting it. He didn’t wanna do it, rightfully so. (Laughs) I can understand from an outsider perspective what it might have sounded like, to be honest. Even as a host it could make someone a bit trepidatious.
We ended up talking about music, and at first he was reluctant to do it… But then he came back and reconsidered. And of course the rest is history! Now everyone is telling him how great he sounds, and he should be proud of himself because he sounds fantastic on the song!
How did you go into the studio originally, Jessie? Did you take vocal lessons prior?
Jessie Godderz: I had a little bit of a background. Last time, I sang, granted was in high school, but it wasn’t something that I did all four years. I was in choir and in swing choir. So it was a passion of mine and it was fun to do… I also did it for the girls that were in swing choir to dance with them and stuff like that! (Laughs) But after that I really was just singing in the car and things of that nature.
I kind of alluded to that with Jeff, and he knew he had something to go off of. Then when we got into the studio he was able to give me a couple of tips that helped tremendously. There was a little bit of natural talent that I was a little shy about but once we were there for a couple hours it was easier for me to try to belt out a few notes because of Jeff.
I thought the “The Girl Is With Me” music video had this real universal appeal with the whole “competing over a girl in a bar” concept. It also had kind of a 90s feel to it! Was that what you’re going for? Something reminiscent of those days?
JT: Absolutely! I’m glad you thought that! Yeah, that’s kind of what we were going for. I mean my group 98 Degrees is best known as a group that emerged in the late 90s, early 2000s. I think that our fanbase, and obviously Jessie is much younger than I am, and his fanbase owns a more universal demographic with him being a wrestler. He appeals to as many men as he does women with all the stuff he’s done with Pop TV and Impact Wrestling, he’s got a more diverse fanbase than I do.
I have a mostly female demographic but the majority of the fans that we were trying to appeal to when marrying the two of us into one song was that sort of 90s feel. That throwback crowd which is en vogue and has been reemerging since the New Kids on the Block came back and all these reunion tours going on and the I Love The 90s tour. We’re definitely trying to appeal to that demo.
I noticed in the music video Jeff kept trying to charm the girl and make her laugh in the lyrics but Jessie responded by simply flashing his abs…
JG: (Laughs) Don’t let Jeff fool you! He’s in great shape. It was just like “that’s what it happens” (laughs) I think we pulled it off pretty well!
JT: Lyrically, we wanted to pay homage to this early 80s Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson song called “The Girl is Mine” and they play back and forth with guys fighting over the same girl. It’s a bit before your time! (Laughs) But we wanted to do a modern day sort of tongue-in-cheek version where we’re poking fun at ourselves a little bit. But, yeah I mean I think it wasn’t necessarily brains versus brawn, it was two guys fighting for the same girl and arguing over it. As you mentioned earlier, a lot of people can relate to that. I think everybody at one point can relate to it, even friends!
Even close friends, sometimes you know that are single will sometimes be fighting over the same girl or trying to impress the same girl. Whether it be a bar or party or whatnot.
Yeah, I liked at the end of the video with the competition between you two eventually there’s two girls… But you still go home alone.
JG: (Laughs) Yeah it got real, real quick for us!
Jeff, how long did it take you to write the lyrics to this song? What’s your writing process in general like for this kind of thing?
JT: You know, there’s all different ways that we do it. I’ve worked with a lot of different people and I’m always excited to work with new people. I’ve produced a lot of music for other artists. But you know, I think traditionally the process is: I’ll come up with a team of two other guys that I’ve been close with for years that I’ve produced a lot of tracks with over the years.
Sometimes we’ll come up with a track first and the beat, and then we’ll write melodies and lyrics over that. Or sometimes I’ll start the melody, and connect the recorder to my phone and I’ll go back to tweak lyrics and build a track around that. So this one, I specifically thought okay, what makes sense for Jessie and I to be on a song? Let’s do a modern day, fighting over the girls kind of song. We had the concept in mind before we did that. One of my co-production partners had already written a track, and it had this great throwback ’90s feel. And then, we wrote the lyrics, and did the concept and left a bit of it open for Jessie to be involved with. That’s one of the things we really like to do is have the co-artist involved with the writing part of the production process.
Traditionally, most producers will wanna be like, “Nah, I wanna do it all!” but I think it adds a little more feel to it, a little more growth to the project when the person involved is also a part of the writing process. So that’s what we did with this one!
I know it’s common in the industry to sometimes be flipping channels on TV and suddenly find someone you wanna work with. Was that how you found Jessie originally? I noticed you mentioned Impact Wrestling earlier. Or was it more like LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” connection feature?
JT: How did we get connected originally Jessie?
JG: Yeah, that’s what it was for me, I just crossed over his profile. I saw he was doing all these different projects, he was doing a lot of moving and shaking. Jeff’s awesome! Jeff’s doing like 500 different things all at the same time while juggling bowling pins up in the air, so I passed by that and saw he was super hard working. I reached out to him and told Jeff I’d love to work with him pretty much in any capacity.
JT: When I explored Jessie’s social media I saw he was very prolific on there, has a number of projects going on, always finds a way to put himself out there and keep relevant. I mean, Jessie’s got a ton of followers on Twitter. I thought man, this could be a really cool way to tap into a new fanbase for both of us!
You brought in Morgan from Big Brother to the music video and she looked like she was genuinely having a great time doing it. Jessie’s obviously known for Big Brother. Is that how that came about?
JG: Oh yeah! So I reached out to one of my friends Rachel Riley and she was busy that day but she said she had another friend which was Morgan. And Morgan arrived within not even 24 hours notice. Like she was super stoked for it, showed up and super professional like she’s been there before. We couldn’t have asked for someone better for the role! It couldn’t have worked better, and it was the first time we all got to meet and hang out. She had a phenomenal time!
JG: It was a lot of fun because we had a lot of input on our characters! So when director Candice [T.] Cain in the beginning stages of the first couple of episodes, she was like, “How do you envision this character? Is this like what you were really doing?” It’s like a college setting with fraternities and things of that nature and I’m one of the lead guys.
There’s a couple of rival fraternities and she kind of just wanted to go in-depth like, “How you would really be like” and like that sort of thing. She got to show one different side at the beginning of the season then a lighter, bigger heart side of us later in the season. And it was in conjunction with that, when I became more of a relevant character in the show, that we were able to also incorporate the song as well. I’m pretty sure episode 8 is the one it’s on. It’s one of the best projects I’ve done to date because I get to show a different side of myself, and people are really enjoying it which is cool. It was a phenomenal experience.
How do you generally prepare for an acting role? I’m sure you prepared differently for “The Girl Is With Me” music video than New Dogs, Old Tricks, for example. Do you have a certain method or ritual that you always practice in the morning or just go straight in?
JG: Yeah, I mean I’ve been wrestling since 2009. And I’m sure Jeff has a lot of input to add on this. Like live television and a live performance is completely different than when we shot the music video. I was super nervous because obviously, I was out of my element. Jeff helped me get over that, plus we were over there for quite a while. I think we got so wrapped up into it, we wanted to put the best sound out there, so we continued to hammer it out. And all those nerves went away! Especially, because of Jeff.
What I did to prepare for it? I knew that I wanted to do the best I could in that and then let Jeff take it from there. But when it came for acting stuff, “Mr. Pec-Tacular” Jessie Godderz can’t be “Mr. Pec-Tacular” Jessie Godderz if he’s not in shape. So it’s not just a one day thing. I gotta stay in shape 365, 24/7, 7 days a week. All the hard work towards that has been done. I can eat normally, just show up, maybe put some spray paint and look TV ready, when it comes to any kind of acting gig.
But I don’t go through a regimen of like calling myself names or memory exercises or anything like that if that’s what you’re getting at. (Laughs)
In PEOPLE, you two compared diets while shooting the music video, that Jeff couldn’t eat pizza and stuff like that. Is it true? No pizza?!
JT: Well yeah, I mean obviously, Jessie is a professional! He’s competed in professional competition. I’ve had like beach muscle that I’ve tried to maintain since like high school football and college football and stuff like that. I’m not anywhere close to the kind of physical specimen-like shape that Jessie is. But I did want to know what diet he’s on! I’m at least ten years older than him and unfortunately, part of being in the entertainment business is the way you look. And it’s a big part! Above and beyond talent or anything else.
People first judge you, the way they see you, on the screen or in videos and live performances and concerts. So my ground in general we try to maintain being in good physical shape. But I wanted to know what he does! I mean I lift weights and I’ve been sort of on the acting/keto diets for many, many years. But I was like, “Man how do you get to look like this?” So he’s on the opposite side with a high carb diet sponsored by a high carbohydrate supplement company. And he looks amazing! So, I was just like, “How do you do it? What do you do?” So we got into that a little bit and routines but I certainly have a lot to learn from him.
I mean I don’t think my body is capable of looking like that! (Laughs) But he gave me some great advice and great tips along the way.
Steven Tyler about staying in shape to Sunday Times Magazine circa 2007:
I have to watch what I eat because I have this ongoing nightmare that I’m going to put on weight and end up looking like some of the other rock stars of a certain age who bounce around the stage. You look at them and think, “Oh my God, what happened to you? How did you let yourself get like that?”
JT: Well you have to, and not only that when you tour and get older there’s so much wear and tear. We’re about to go on a 39-city tour and you can’t afford to eat bad or not take care of yourself. You can’t afford to not take care of your body. Just the show itself, if you’re putting the right energy into it, and effort into it to relay the show the way you want it. And to have the impact on the fans the way you want, you have to put a lot of effort into it. It’s a very physical thing believe it or not, there’s a lot of cardio that goes into it, then traveling and all that stuff. Steven Tyler is definitely right!
Your fans forget for the most part that you’re still a regular person at the end of the day. They create this image of you based upon when they became fans, and they expect you to resemble that when they see you. All of that ties into that you’re still a product that gets sold out there, and luckily for Jessie and I, we get to be creative and do entertainment for a living. It’s a small tradeoff to live your dream and have a lot of fun in the process!
Jessie, do you still compete in bodybuilding competitions now while you’re on the road with TV and wrestling and everything?
JG: As of right now, no. I haven’t had any competitions for a while. But I have kicked around the idea. I mean I’m not too far away from being able to step up on stage with what I’m naturally able to just carry myself at. The hardest part is just the nutrition part of it. You really have to hunker down. Jeff definitely knows it.
The mind set when it comes to bodybuilding, is you need to start living your life around eating. As opposed to eating around your life. Which the vast majority of America and everybody else does. That’s just the tradeoff, you know, because it is your job. So, I haven’t competed recently but I have kicked around the idea of maybe doing a competition in the next couple of years.
You’ve wrestled primarily in Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground the last few years. Do you see yourself going to the WWE, maybe joining NXT like some of the other Impact Wrestling stars in the future?
JG: I definitely see myself continuing wrestling. What outlet or company that will be in, I haven’t quite decided yet, but I do know that probably sometime in the future, I’ll be stepping back on the canvas. I haven’t decided which way I want to go yet, to be completely honest with you. But obviously it’s a dream! Once you have that, a live crowd is so much different than on being on something that’s televised. Obviously, I’m sure Jeff you know. Just to position yourself for the camera… It doesn’t really seem like much but what you shot for those thirty seconds that you set up for three hours for, is how you’re going to be showcased.
A live event, as soon as you step out there and then all the way through the performance, we even go back out the curtains. You’re on! Like you’re entertaining, every single step, everything that you do! There’s nothing like it!
It’s one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever had in my life, where I do one thing in the ring and the entire crowd either boos or cheers. It’s like a euphoric like skin goosebumps moment and that doesn’t go away. Wrestling will always be with me. I’ll definitely be doing it soon. But for what organization I gotta weigh my options and make sure. That’s why I took this hiatus because I’ll be done with projects as of right now. They took precedent to knock them out of the park.
I saw you compete actually in 2014 with Impact Wrestling in New York. I thought you, Robbie E, and DJZ looked like legit stars right there! You guys gave a great show!
JG: Oh wow! A true BroMans fan! Yeah, DJZ just had his birthday this month on Oct. 5 and he was happy to see on Oct. 2 when me and Jeff’s music video came out! (Laughs) We still stay in contact, those guys were great! That was a great little stable that we had between the three of us and we all brought different traits and abilities to the table.
We had a certain shine and I think that’s why that it had such a lasting impression. I still get tweets and texts or emails and things like that because of it. You know, you gotta make the best of it and we had something that we definitely believed in and we just took off with it. Those characters were awesome!
JG: It’s one of those things, where I’m always surprised to see what Big Brother and CBS have for me. That one really blew me away! If you had told me ten years before that something like that was gonna happen, where the competition was going to be completely based on something I came up with and a character that I made in 2009… I wouldn’t have believed you! I always show up and they always surprise me, and they love working with me and obviously vice versa. It’s my first family!
They helped launch my wrestling career, they’ve continued to bring me back, it’s just a great relationship. It’s almost like I’m a staple now of the show, late in the season, which is pretty cool. I have no say in it if that makes any sense, they just call me up and then go from there.
JT: Yes! We just had a show on Oct. 12 at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach then we had shows at Epcot in Orlando, Florida. We embark on a Christmas tour that starts Nov. 1 and goes to Dec. 23. We did our inaugural tour last year and we didn’t know what to expect but it turned out great! And we decided to do it for a second year and hopefully we’ll get the same response as we did last year. I’m still fortunate that we’re still able to tour and have people come see us after all these years.
Do you think you might bring Jessie along on-stage and perform “The Girl is With Me” live?
JT: You know I’d love to do that! I hope that he’ll make it to one of the shows, so we can call him up on stage and do a little bit of it.
Are you planning to team up in the future to release another single?
JT: I think we both expected that there would be some reaction but were pleasantly surprised at the extraordinary amount of feedback we got. I’d love to work with Jessie in any capacity. He’s such a great guy, such a hard worker. The project has been a joy to be a part of and I’d definitely love to do it
JG: I definitely concur, if I get the opportunity, we will definitely run with it!
Jessie, how do you feel about singing live?
JG: Singing live? Well there’s only one way to find out, I’ll tell you that much! (Laughs)
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