Wednesday, June 30, 2021

iHeartRadio Countdown: Nick Lachey Stops By To Talk New 98 Degrees Music!


By Mario Lopez

This weekend on The iHeartRadio Countdown with Mario Lopez 98 Degrees frontman and recent winner of 'The Masked Singer' Nick Lachey will be checking in! He'll talk all about winning the hit FOX show, all the new projects that 98 Degrees is involved in, filming season 2 of 'Love is Blind' on Netflix and revealed why he's about to move to Hawaii! Plus we'll countdown the top 20 songs, play some throwbacks, talk music news and more!

Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC And 98 Degrees Stars Dish On Their Surprise Las Vegas Boy Band Battle


It was the battle of the boy bands in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Three of the world’s biggest male pop groups collided on stage in Sin City during a performance showcasing some of their greatest hits on Saturday.

AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys and Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC were in the middle of a musical showdown at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino’s International Theater when Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees crashed the performance

The musicians came together for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation’s “An Evening to Save Lives: Music for Life” fundraiser, hosted by Timmons.

The foundation was started by Westgate Resorts president and Queen of Versailles star, David Siegel, and his wife, Jackie Siegel, after their 18-year-old daughter, Victoria, died of a drug overdose in 2015. The organization works to fight the opioid epidemic by helping reduce drug experimentation, addiction and overdoses among youth, particularly amid an increase in fatal overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before they hit the stage, Timmons, Kirkpatrick and McLean sat down with ET Canada, sharing how as parents, Victoria’s passing and the Siegels’ subsequent work hits close to home.

“We’re all fathers, so we’re all very protective,” said McLean, dad to daughters Ava, 8, and Lyric, 4. “And, something like this is very close to the chest for me, being in recovery and battling my own demons, so to be here to spread awareness and be supportive is what matters most.”

McLean, 43, has been open about his sobriety struggles, freely discussing the topic on his podcast, Pretty Messed Up. Having marked 18 months sober, he admitted being back in the party town of Las Vegas, where the Backstreet Boys wrapped a two-year Larger Than Life residency in 2019, has been testing.

“It was a bit stressful yesterday, being back [and] with things reopening,” he said. “I haven’t been around as many people in a tight space in a year-and-a-half, so I was a little anxious, but knowing that I’ve got a great support group back home [helps.] I just got off a nice sober boys’ trip over the past week, so I’ve been able to build a good foundation [while] not being on the road or here in Las Vegas.”

As for how the pop stars will teach their kids about drugs, temptations and addiction, Kirkpatrick noted the value of resources like the Siegels’ book, Victoria’s Voice: Our Daughter’s Dying Wish to Share Her Diary.

“You can give them tools to research and find out for themselves, because it’s already hard enough with kids,” said Kirkpatrick, who has a 3-year-old son, Nash, with wife Karly. “Thinking back to when I was young and the things I wanted to try and do – you don’t want to be that parent that tells your kid, ‘No,’ all the time because then they’re just going to want to do it. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m gonna let you make your decisions, but these are the repercussions.’”

Kirkpatrick, 49, and Timmons, 48, commended Victoria’s Voice for bringing awareness to how the opioid crisis is impacting youth.

“They have this program called the Victory Clubs and incentivize kids to not only become educated, but educate other people,” Timmons said about the program, which rewards drug-free youth with perks like school parking spaces or movie tickets. “The opioid epidemic continues to grow. There isn’t a demographic that it doesn’t affect, so it’s a universal problem.”

After Soul of Motown, who have a residency at Westgate Las Vegas, opened the concert with hits like “My Girl”, Jackie Siegel shared how Victoria was a huge fan of the artists playing the fundraiser, which took place on the eve of the sixth anniversary of her passing. “She grew up with all the performers. That was her era and I know she’s loving it.”

“There’s been some very iconic performers at the Westgate International Theater,” Jackie also said. “Elvis Presley and many others. But nothing has been as iconic and important as tonight’s Music for Life because tonight, we’re going to save lives.”

Singer-songwriter Victoria Dennis performed “Perfect Storm,” a powerful track she wrote after reading Victoria’s diary entries, before The Voice season 12 winner, Chris Blue, got the audience on their feet with his new single “Moon.”

DJ Lux kept fans dancing with a party-pumping set, which continued with McLean performing the Backstreet Boys’ “The Call”. Kirkpatrick then joined McLean on-stage, noting what the two have in common. “We both had five people in our band, we both were known as the guy with the hair – mine was on my head, yours was on your face – and we both had Johnny Wright as a manager,” Kirkpatrick said.

“My band was known for dancing – you’re known for Dancing with the Stars,” he added, before singing *NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart”.

“That was a great song, but I got one that’s better,” McLean responded, before launching into “I Want It That Way.”

Kirkpatrick reacted with “Bye Bye Bye”, before McLean hit back with “Larger Than Life”.

At that point, Timmons crashed the sing-off, saying, “You guys weren’t the only boy bands during that time!”

“We were the only ones that mattered,” Kirkpatrick fired back.

Undeterred, Timmons performed a remix of 98 Degrees’ late ’90s hit “The Hardest Thing”, before leaving McLean and Kirkpatrick to their song battle.

Instead, McLean declared past rivalries over and announced he and Kirkpatrick have a new single “Air” with their side band ATCK (All the Cool Kids). The group includes McLean, Kirkpatrick, DJ Lux and drummer Ryan Stevenson.

After debuting the track, McLean performed his new solo single “Love Song Love” for the first time live. “There’s been a lot of negative energy around the world lately,” he said, introducing the song, from his forthcoming EP. “We need more love. We need more acceptance. We need more tolerance. We need more compassion. Real love conquers all. Love wins.”

He closed the show with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” before guests hit an afterparty at the hotel’s extravagant penthouse floor, where late Presley stayed during his residency days.

Fans who couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for the fundraiser may soon get another chance to catch at least one of the show’s headliners performing in town again. “Any of you guys happen to catch the Larger Than Life Las Vegas residency?” McLean teased. “A little birdie told me that Backstreet Boys might be coming back to Vegas sooner than you think!”

Baking Up Love wraps up filming, cast set to return late August for movie premiere


BY Matt Sheehan

MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — There’s been a lot of excitement in Morton these last couple of weeks.

A film crew has been showcasing the town in a Pure Flix movie, Baking Up Love.

From the high-school, to the fire house, to the Confectionary, many businesses have been put on display during the movie.

Monday morning, Good Day Central Illinois’ Matt Sheehan was joined live in-studio by award-winning actor and producer Michael Bonini, and actor, lawyer, and WWE Superstar David Otunga to talk about what it’s like to be here in central Illinois.

The cast is set to return to Morton to premiere the film on August 28. It will then release on September 1 for streaming on Pure Flix.

The movie was written and directed by Candice Cain of Gemelli Films. Nicholas Prainito, CEO of Gold Hive Media is the assistant director for the film.

Below you will find a sneak peek of the movie with David Otunga, Michael Bonini, Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees), and Matt Sheehan as an extra.

Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees is part of a night to fight opioid addiction


For more information on Victoria’s Voice visit

98 Degrees Is Ready To Heat Up The Charts With New Music



The temperature is rising now that 98 Degrees is getting the band back together with new music, new videos and new live performances.

The popular late ‘90s band composed of Jeff Timmons, brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre reunited during the global COVID-19 pandemic to celebrate the band’s past and write the next chapter of 98 Degrees.

“We really realized how much we enjoy performing together and singing together, so we decided we wanted to take the opportunity to make new music since we couldn’t do live shows,” Drew told ET Canada.

The process began when all four artists and their production team quarantined together in Las Vegas to rework some of their biggest hits.

“We had great producers that worked with us,” Drew said. “The way that they reimagined them, they heard things in the tracks that we didn’t even focus on. I wish we could take credit for reimagining the remixes, but honestly, it’s the producers we worked with and they just did a fantastic job pulling out things that we’re hidden under there and bringing those up into the focus.”

“There’s a couple of those that dare I say I actually like the remixes a little better than the original,” Nick added. “It’s like, ‘Wow, I wish we did that the first time around.’ But it came out really well, and we’re super excited for everyone to hear it.”

The remixed EP will drop in the midst of the band’s current campaign titled “98 Degrees of Summer”, where they’ll be posting things like old artifacts and never before seen footage every day until Sept. 17.

“It takes us down memory lane, too,” Timmons said. “Some of this stuff we’ve compartmentalized and put in the back of our minds because of the way we looked or the way we were dressed, but it’s been refreshing, and we want to encourage our fans to submit stuff through our socials and we’ll put it out there.”

But it’s not all a blast from the past; 98 Degrees also recorded a new track that is set to drop July 9th. Though the ready for summer song was recorded in a hotel room in the midst of a global pandemic rather than a fully functioning recording studio, the guys all agree, the experience was “like riding a bike.”

“It’s funny because we were working with our production team on another song that we had really fallen in love with and they said there’s this other song that you should check out, which is a similar story to how we first recorded ‘Because Of You’ back in the day,” Nick said. “We heard this song and thought it was a smash and the perfect summer song. It’s got that cool summer party vibe.”

“Everybody is coming out of a horrible year and a half with COVID and we all want to get back to doing things we love with friends that we love and this song is totally right for that time,” he added. “We’re really excited about it, and on a musical level, I think we sound better than we ever have and I’m really proud of who we are as singers and musicians.”

Accompanying the new track will be a music video that alludes to some of the band’s best and most embarrassing fashion moments of the past.

“Most of the outfits we tried to burn and not bring them back,” Drew joked. “But there were a lot of overalls without shirts and things like that. It’s about finding the balance between the modern fashion that is an ode back to ‘90s fashion and what we feel comfortable in.”

“Ironically, our stylist said they didn’t have to go through the old archives or thrift stores because they went to Urban Outfitters and pretty much all that stuff has been recycled and is in style now,” Timmons added.

Looking back at the band’s overarching career, Nick says he “doesn’t regret a thing because our path was exactly how it needed to be.”

“The beauty of it is that we still get to walk down that path,” he said. “We’re still doing it, we’re enjoying it more than ever, and I think we’re doing it better than ever, and appreciating it more than ever.”

Check out 98 Degrees of Summer on the band’s Instagram now, and listen to their newest track, “Where Do You Wanna Go” when it drops on July 9th.

98 Degrees Reveals the Britney Song They Passed On and How They (Mostly) Avoided Boy Band Feuds



98 Degrees' Nick and Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre talked to E! News about their summer plans, new music and how they managed to stay close for all these years.

No need to take the temperature of the room: 98 Degrees is officially fired up about getting back out on the road.

"We were so used to performing together and being together that it felt really strange not to be doing something," Nick Lachey told E! News in a recent interview with the whole group as their 98 Days of Summer campaign got underway (hello, epic '90s throwback pics!). "As soon as we could possibly get together, we created a little bubble in Vegas and went and recorded there and started recording some new music for the first time in a long time. I think we were all just itching to do it because it had been way too long."

They had planned to be performing all throughout last year, fans know how that went.

We were all excited," agreed Jeff Timmons, who founded the group in 1995 with fellow Ohioans Nick and Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre. "We all appreciate each other and the journey we've been through together. But with the pandemic, as crazy as that was for everybody on the planet, you're like, 'Wow.' You really grow more appreciative for the opportunities you have to do stuff like this, especially like this, right? So, we kind of all talked to each other and were like, look, let's not go back and just do the dates that we were supposed to do in the past, let's try to do some new music and put some new stuff out there for our fans.

"I mean, they've been so loyal and they've turned out for us better than we expected after being gone so long and have been more loyal than ever, so we were like, let's give them something that's new and exciting from us."

The first fruit of their creative labors will be the single "Where Do You Wanna Go"—a "summer fun song," Justin described it—dropping July 9. 

"Honestly, I think we sing better and we sound better than we probably did back when we first started," Nick said. "I think we've all worked really hard to be where we're at and we come together really well, we're having more fun than we've ever had. So, I think what we're doing now is better than what we've ever done, frankly. We're excited."

And let's remember, it's no small feat to still be psyched about going to work together after 26 years, when so many bands scatter to the four winds after a tiny fraction of that time. (98 Degrees did announce a hiatus in 2003 but, just as they assured their fans, it was not a breakup.)

"I mean, anybody who tells you that being in a group is all rainbows and butterflies is lying to you," Drew said. "It's just like any relationship. You have to work at it. There are going to be times where you need to just step away from it and calm down. But I think ultimately what works for us is we all respect each other, we all respect what each of us brings to the group as individuals and I think that we each share a common goal. And as long as we stay united in that goal and focus on that goal, and we have that in common, then we're good."

Nick compared it to a marriage, explaining, "As long as you respect each other as human beings and as brothers, you're not always going to get along but at least you respect that person enough to say this is not the time for that, take a step back. And it didn't come easily. Like any group, we've taken our lumps and had our fights and arguments and whatever, but you get to a place, especially now later in life when you have better perspective, and we truly appreciate what each other brings to the group and, more than anything, respect our journey together."

The elder Lachey brother, who branched out as a solo artist and TV host during the group's decade-long hiatus, said, "I can speak for myself that I'd much prefer being on stage with these guy. It's much more fun. It's a brotherhood, it's a comradery that we've formed over 27 years, is that what you [looking at Drew] said? Crazy."

They're so close they couldn't quite remember how long they'd known each other, Nick echoing Drew that it was 27 years and Jeff suggesting 24 before Drew remembered that 1995 was 26 years ago. "See, we're not good at math, that's why we sing," he quipped as they all laughed.

But taking their jobs seriously and focusing intently on how to make 98 Degrees great likely saved them some angst in the early days, back when the public couldn't help pitting boy bands—and countless other artists—against each other.

"Who are they?" Drew cracked when asked what it was like angling for a slice of that pop heartthrob pie with Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync.

"Really, we're all type-As so we put so much pressure on ourselves internally, individually and collectively as a group on our own," Jeff said. "While we knew that those groups were out there and that we were being compared to them, we were already in that lane putting a ton of pressure on ourselves."

Being on a different label, Motown Records, while the other two groups came up on Jive, "it really took a little while to figure out how to market and promote us there for a little bit," he recalled. "So, we had some challenges. And all groups and all artists have challenges, but we had some extra challenges that some of the groups didn't. So we already had that pressure on us before we started getting compared to Backstreet and 'N Sync. And then, look, they burst onto the scene, TRL came out and then we pointed out to our label, we're like, 'That's the kind of stuff we need to be doing!'

"So, it was more like joining into that sort of lane with those guys. And the comparison, while we did think we were different than them, we sort of welcomed it because they were selling millions and millions of records and performing all over the world.

Which 98 Degrees proceeded to do as well, starting with their 1997 self-titled debut album, which was certified 3x platinum.

"I think it makes good media to make it seem like there were these hard-core rivalries," Nick observed. "We were friends with those guys. But I'm saying, there was room for everybody. Those were incredible days where you're selling tens of millions of records. It was awesome! It was awesome to be a part of it. We would do shows with those guys and we toured with 'N Sync all over the U.K."

He added, "So, we were competitive, to Justin's point, more with ourselves and I think more about staying where you were. Like, we had established ourselves but there were constantly new groups coming out and it was like, how do we stay where we're at, how do we continue? We have to make the next record better than the last one and continue to up our game because, you know, there was a lot of competition still coming at that point. But as far as those other two groups [BSB and 'N Sync] it was never really like that."

Drew then recalled, "There was a group in the U.K. called 5ive that we..."

Nick quickly cut in with a laugh, "Yeah, we didn't like those guys. Put that on the record."

"We hated those guys," Drew agreed. 

Ok, so they had time for little feuding back in the day. In 2014 on Watch What Happens Live, when asked to name the worst pop group of the 1990s, Nick was pleased that Andy Cohen himself brought up 5ive.

"It's so funny you call them out," the singer said. "That's exactly who I was gonna say." Explaining why they had a "big-time beef" with the then-five-man group, Nick recalled, "We were on the Smash Hits tour in the U.K. with a bunch of pop groups at the time, and 5ive for whatever reason just had it out for us. So we used to battle every night." 

Reached for comment straightaway after WWHL aired, 5ive member Abz Love (real name Richard Breen) told TMZ that 98 Degrees "sucked ass" then and "probably still do." But admittedly, he said, if they were giving the American group crap on tour years beforehand, "To be fair, we were the bad boys of pop so we were always looking for trouble. They just happened to be in the way." (Five months later, Abz announced on Twitter that he was no longer a member of 5ive.)

But if you slighted 98 Degrees 20 years ago, prepare to still feel the burn in 2021.

Talking about whether or not any of them had any individual beefs, à la the animosity that once existed between Chris Kirkpatrick and AJ McLean that recently came to light, Drew mused, "I don't think there's anybody that we really hated."

Nick reminded him, "Not in this country."

So, for the most part they kept their heads above the fray in a time when the media coverage could be merciless. But, the guys admitted, they didn't have it anywhere nearly as bad as their female fellow artists.

"I think females in general have it harder as far as scrutiny goes," Drew said. "I think we were able to kind of operate without being, like, 'Oh, oh my goodness, he has a beer belly now?!' You know what I mean? We're not constantly being scrutinized for if we change our hair or if something happens or who we're dating or anything like that. That's just a broader male versus female sexism issue, not just late '90s, early 2000s pop artists."

Jeff concurred. "Frankly, behind the scenes, it wasn't as exposed as it is now with social media and camera phones, and all this stuff that people could get away with in the past, they can't get away with it as much now. They still do it, but it's not as prevalent, hopefully."

And perhaps no one got more crushed between the gears of the machine that was also making her one of the biggest stars in the world than Britney Spears.

"She was a sweetheart," Nick recalled. "We did a lot of shows with her early on, she couldn't have been sweeter. And you saw the talent, I mean we all could see it coming. I haven't seen her lately so I can't speak to what she's going through later in life, but she was nothing but a doll, a total sweetheart, and couldn't have been nicer to us and all that good stuff."

He added, "Being in a group you can kind of shoulder all that pressure on each other, and if you're a solo artist, you're out there on an island sometimes. And it can be a tough road."

Justin remembered, "We were all still in our 20s, too, so I can't imagine the pressure of being a young female and really still not even grown up. So, having to deal with all that pressure all by yourself..."

To which Nick said, "I can't imagine going through some of these experiences at a younger age, it would've been really, really tough."

Despite their paths crossing over the years, they never recorded with Britney—but not for lack of opportunity.

While thinking back on some of the songs they passed up (a little tune called "Bye Bye Bye"; almost "The Hardest Thing," which they only did at the label's request and it turned out to be one of their biggest hits; a collab with a then-unknown rapper named Nelly, leaving them wondering what might have been), Jeff recalled Britney's manager Larry Rudolph showing them "...Baby One More Time."

Originally written by Max Martin for TLC, which turned it down, Britney's team was hoping to capitalize on some proven boy-band success. 

"And [Larry] was like, 'We're trying to get 'N Sync to do something and they won't do it!" Jeff said. "And we were like, 'Well, if they're not doing it...'"

Britney, of course, emerged with one of the biggest songs ever, ranked last year by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 best debut single of all time.

So apparently we made a couple of bad choices," Nick cracked as the members of 98 Degrees, once again, shared a laugh together.

But while maintaining the mandatory chemistry that makes a boy band go round and the requisite enjoyment that they need to keep going after all these years is important, they've also had to readjust here and there to keep pace in a rapidly evolving pop landscape. Social media, which wasn't around when they first came together, obviously helps, both with major announcements and connecting more consistently with fans—who nowadays expect a little peek behind the curtain.

"So we want to be relevant in the music scene today, but we also want to stay true to who we are as artists and the sound that we've created that our fans know, love and expect to hear from us," Justin explained. "So you have to try to, in a sense, reinvent yourself but also keep the magic that is our sound."

Added Nick, "Yeah, I think you get in trouble trying to chase something you're not, tying to chase a trend or trying to chase a sound, and there's probably even times where we've gotten caught up in that a little bit." For their latest, "Where Do You Wanna Go," we really tried to approach this as, hey, let's make sure this is true to who we are and kind of in our wheelhouse. We all feel really good about where it ended up and excited for everybody to hear it on July 9th."

Another little something that's different from when they first started out: Nick, Drew and Jeff now have 10 children among them, plus Justin has nephews who are old enough to have witnessed a few 98 Degrees concerts in their day.

"Do they sneak into the corner and listen to 98 Degrees on their phone?" Drew said with a smile of his two kids with wife Lea Lachey. "No, I don't think so. But they appreciate what we accomplished. At least my kids are getting to the age now where they understand it. Jeff's kids are obviously that age as well. Nick's are probably still—"

"My oldest definitely understands, like, 'OK, people know who my parents are and know who my dad is,'" Nick said of 8-year-old son Camden, the eldest of his three children with Vanessa Lachey. "And I always tell him, I say, 'I'm just dad. Don't think of what I do.' But I do think at some age they start to, and he's starting to get to that point where he's putting it all together."

Drew said, "Some people have parents that are doctors, some that are custodians, some that are teachers. Every person has a job and a story and ours is just a little different."

And jumpstarting 98 Degrees in 2012 also meant a lot to Nick because his kids could then see for their own eyes what Dad did for a living. "Otherwise, they just have to take my word for it," he joked. "And now they can actually come to a concert and see you do what you love to do. And hopefully it inspires them on some level."

Or, as father of five Jeff might put it to his brood, "I swear we were cool at one time!"

Catch 98 Degrees' new single "Where Do You Wanna Go" and the premiere of the song's music video on Friday July 9th

98 Degrees star Jeff Timmons acting in local movie, teases new music


By Matt Sheehan

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — 98 Degrees fans have been excited to learn founding member, Jeff Timmons, has been in central Illinois the last few days shooting a new film.

“Baking Up Love,” which is set to air on Pure Flix Sept. 1, is about an international bake-off at Morton’s Pumpkin Festival.

Timmons told Good Day Central Illinois’ Matt Sheehan about his character, Pastor Mark.

“I’m not traditionally known as an actor,” Timmons laughed. “Hopefully people give me a break when they watch this, because I’m with some great actors.”

Timmons said he heard about the film through Candice Cain, the Owner and President of Gemelli Films.

“She’s had enormous amounts of success,” Timmons said. “She literally baked up this movie and brought it to Morton. It’s a cute movie with some very great actors and I’m honored to be in it.”

Timmons said being in Morton reminds him of growing up in small town Ohio. He said the people in central Illinois have been extremely welcoming and kind.

“They’ve been amazing, that’s what you get in the midwest. I’ve lived in New York, L.A., and now Las Vegas. There are nice people everywhere around the world, but there’s nothing like the Midwest,” Timmons said. “Mayor Kauffman has been amazing, really instrumental in putting this all together.”

Timmons said his popular boy band, 98 Degrees, is back in action making music. They took an extended break from about 2003-2012, and then came back for a reunion. A reunion that hasn’t stopped.

“We all had families and different things,” Timmons said. “I’ve been doing more behind-the-scenes things. We’ve been back touring and having more fun than ever the last few years. The pandemic impacted us, just like it impacted everyone else. We had 50 some dates to go on the road, and our fans have been turning out in droves. We’re gonna get back on the road and do some new music, too. We’ve got a great manager, Johnny Wright. He’s known for managing Backstreet and Justin Timberlake. He’s helped inject and reinvigorate our career with some great ideas.”

Timmons teased the new music and performances 98 Degrees is working.

“The first one is the New York State Fair. It’s lovely to see people out, without masks on, and back to normal life. We’ve got quite a few we’re gonna be announcing soon. We always do stuff with Disney at Epcot. We also visit the smaller towns too. That’s really what made 98 Degrees. The secondary, tertiary markets. We’ll be doing everything here and there,” Timmons said.

The crew of Baking Up Love is set to return to Morton August 28 to premiere the movie for central Illinois.

98 Degrees Talk Return to Spotlight, Nostalgia and the ‘Stupidest Line in the History of Music’


By Tim Chan

On the heels of their ’98 Days of Summer’ campaign, the guys talk new music and lessons learned from their two decade-long career

Leave it to 98 Degrees to reform and announce a new project in the middle of a summer heatwave.

Jeff Timmons, brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre are returning to the spotlight as a band for the first time in eight years for the “98 Days of Summer” campaign — and with it, the guys say, has come a newfound appreciation for music again.

The campaign, which launched this month, will feature 98 days of throwback photos, video clips and unreleased music on the group’s social media channels, culminating in the release of a remix EP titled Summer of 98, with new songs and remixes of the group’s most popular hits.

The idea came about after the guys spent much of 2020 in a Covid bubble together — time they eventually used to write and record new music. As part of their return, 98 Degrees will release a brand new single titled “Where Do You Wanna Go,” on July 9th, making it their first original release in more than eight years. The group will also make their return to the stage in August, performing at the NY State Fair.

Before New York though, the guys were in Los Angeles, where they spoke to Rolling Stone about nostalgia, the current state of pop music, and why you can’t call their latest return a comeback.

A lot of groups say they’re going on hiatus, but that’s really code for “break up.” Did you always intend to get back together?
Drew Lachey: Well we’ve been touring together and going out on the road and doing stuff here and there over the years, so for us, it’s never been a matter of like breaking up and getting back together. This is just the newest venture that we’re going on together.

Jeff Timmons: Well we had a 12-year hiatus [laughs].

The group was inactive from 2001 to 2013 before reforming in the summer of 2013 for The Package Tour, a joint outing with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men

Timmons: We never really officially broke up. It was just at the time, we all had different things going on. In my personal life, I was starting a young family, Nick had just gotten married and we were all going in different directions. And then 9/11 sort of set that mark for us. We were together finishing a long tour, 9/11 happened and then everything was in flux. Nobody knew what was going to happen. And so we were all like, ‘All right, let’s go to our families. All of us just went in different directions and stayed there for over a decade. But it wasn’t like a breakup or anything like that.”

What’s the motivation for getting back together this time around?
Nick Lachey: I think we still probably appreciate more than ever, the music we make together. We all love each other and still sing together and have developed a brotherhood, a true camaraderie. And we’ve all gone on to other things on our own, but there’s really nothing like getting together on stage and doing what we do, what we started out doing. We still love it. And it’s just all about the timing working out. And the time is definitely right right now.

How has your outlook on the music industry changed since you first started?
Timmons: Back in the day there was so much pressure, we had Nsync and Backstreet [Boys]; those guys were on fire at that time. And we put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves. So while we did appreciate everything that happened, I don’t know that we were taking everything in and enjoying the moment during that time. Now that we’re much older, we’re just kind of relishing in the moment and enjoying ourselves. The fans seem to be enjoying it more and they can kind of feel the energy from us when we’re up on stage. And I just think like, ‘Man, this is the kind of thing we should have been doing and embracing the first time around.’

Nick Lachey: We don’t put the same kind of pressure on ourselves and we’re enjoying it. We’re kind of smelling in the roses now whereas in the past, it was always, ‘What’s next?” We were caught up in this rollercoaster. And I think now we’re all more mature and have better perspective versus the kind of place that we were in back then. When you get older, you get smarter… hopefully [laughs].

Drew Lachey: Also now they appreciate how amazing I am, which they didn’t do in the past [laughs].

That’s not going to translate well in print.
Drew Lachey: Nothing about me translates well [laughs].

You’ve talked about this before, but has your opinion changed over the years about being categorized as a “boy band?”
Justin Jeffre: We tried to see ourselves as being in a separate world [as those other groups] but it was easy to put us all together.

Nick Lachey: Obviously we got swept up in it and no regrets because there was a lot of success. But it was never our intention to be part of the “boy band” movement. We really kind of modeled ourselves after Boyz II Men growing up, but I guess that [the boy band label] was just kind of what happened, and we were along for the ride.

Nsync, BSB, and 98 Degrees were the “trifecta” of big pop groups in the Nineties and early 2000s, and we really haven’t seen that degree of momentum since. Are there any younger artists that you see yourselves in?
Timmons: The Jonas Brothers are really cool. I love that they all do different things and you know, they kind of evolved from being a boy band into being like solo rock and R&B singers, and doing that song I loved, ‘Cake by the Ocean.’ They’ve been pretty interesting to follow. But there aren’t very many groups that are out there harmonizing and have those capabilities of singing a cappella. I’m sure One Direction had that ability, or The Wanted. But you know, the way it is today, you become a “brand” so fast, that it’s easy to get pulled away. So it’s really hard to find our version of ourselves in the groups today.

Drew Lachey: I think the new Bruno Mars song [‘Leave the Door Open,’ with Anderson .Paak], when I first heard it, I was like, ‘That could sound like us.’

Nick Lachey: I think Bieber’s great and I’m probably stating the obvious. But I appreciate him and respect him for all he’s been through in his life, and just coming out on the other side and still doing really, really well. And Billie Eilish, I’m like, ‘Whoa, what a talent she has

Nostalgia is so big right now with the recent Friends reunion, all the TV and movie remakes, and now, the return of 98 Degrees. Are you nostalgic people?
Nick Lachey: It’s kind of exciting to do a project like [“98 Degrees of Summer”]. It almost forces you to go back and relive all those memories and y’know, go through the old trunks of memorabilia and the action figures that were made of you.

Drew Lachey: We have 20+ years of experience, I mean, we have bad photos for days.

Nick Lachey: I also take a lot of pride in the fact that “I Do” has been a wedding song for so many people. You’re part of somebody’s life every time they put on their wedding video. And that’s a cool place to be y’know?

Any songs that you’d rather not sing again?
Jeffre: Back in the day ‘True to Your Heart‘ was one of those were maybe it felt kind of cheesy and stuff, but now when we do it, the crowd loves it.

Nick Lachey: I’ll tell you something interesting: we didn’t want to record ‘The Hardest Thing.’

Nick Lachey: I just didn’t like the song. It was the last song we recorded for the album and we weren’t really into it, but the label was like, ‘We really want you to record this song.’ And it ended up getting more airplay for us than any other song.

Jeffre: As soon as I played that song for my brother, he was like, ‘That’s the hit.’

Nick Lachey: But there was a line in there about ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and I was like, ‘This is the stupidest line in the history of music.’ And [now] it’s the line that people talk about all the time.

We’ve seen a lot of groups come up in the last few years that put out a few albums and then disband. What do you attribute your longevity to?
Drew Lachey: We’re four Midwestern guys, all from Ohio. We grew up with a similar work ethic and a similar focus and drive. I think what we went through together, you know, nobody else can understand or appreciate it. I mean, I’m sure the other groups have their similar bond, but these are the only three other guys who know exactly what my life was like and how it kind of went on. So I think we have a unique bond that we appreciate much more now. But I think we also just love making music together, and we’re excited to still be doing it. And we can’t wait for the fans to hear our new stuff.

Nick Lachey: I think the thing that defines us is work ethic. There were probably more talented groups out there, but we just flat out refused to go away. I mean, I think that you can have talent, but there’s a lot of talented people – you got to be willing and ready to work. And you know, we got in our cars and drove to L.A. and sang on street corners. And that’s still something I’m so proud of us for doing.

Jeffre: Part of our success, to have longevity, was that we always tried to treat people well. Somebody may have just been a P.A. back in the day but they may now be in some very powerful decision-making place years later. And they remember how you treated them.

Nick Lachey: But most importantly, don’t sleep with the program director’s girlfriend.

Is that a hypothetical?
Nick Lachey: Well…we’re adults now. But we can say that it is [laughs].