Raise the temperature on romance with ‘boy band’ 98°
98°, comprising Jeff Timmons, left, Nick Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Drew Lachey, heads to Asia for five concerts after performing on Maui and Oahu.
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Every kid reaches an age when they want to be seen as an adult. Whether the transition is leaving behind the kids’ table at Thanksgiving, casting your first vote or having your first legal sip of liquor, the moment is relished.
So it’s no surprise that a bunch of 25-year-olds would hate being labeled a “boy band,” as 98° were when they became worldwide stars in the late ’90s.
“We definitely didn’t consider ourselves a, quote-unquote, boy band,” Jeff Timmons said in a recent call from his home in Las Vegas. “We thought of ourselves as a vocal group — a four-part harmony, doo-wop-based, chamber-based group.”
Pop music is about trends, though, and acts get lumped in with others they have little in common with all the time, so 98° was assigned to the boy-band box with ’N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, O-Town and the rest. As much as they weren’t crazy about that label, Timmons and band mates Nick and Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre kept their perspective and are even good with being put in that class two decades later.
“None of us have any complaints, man,” Timmons said. “We’ve been able to live the dream, and have records on the radio and to have a fan base 20-odd years later, so anything they wanna call us, as long as they think we’re nice guys, I’m not opposed to any moniker or label whatsoever.”
So they are happy to come to Maui on Thursday to perform soul-tinged hits such as “Because of You,” “The Hardest Thing” and “Invisible Man.” Check that — they are “extremely excited” to be coming to Hawaii to perform for the first time since opening for Janet Jackson at Aloha Stadium in 1999.
Timmons said he’s not much of a beach person, despite having lived right off a beach in Southern California for a while, but Hawaii is “the one place I actually enjoy going to the beach. There’s just something about it — the serenity, the vibe. It’s so relaxing.”
After a show in Honolulu on Friday, the group will do five concerts in Southeast Asia, where they tasted some of their earliest success.
After signing with Motown Records in 1996, the quartet had trouble breaking through in America, Timmons said, and decided to see whether the rest of the world would take to them.
“We went overseas — the Philippines,” he said. “They really just made us feel like rock stars and gave us the confidence and record sales.”
The group also found some success in Canada, Timmons said, and implored Motown not to give up on them.
“‘Look, don’t drop us,’” Timmons recalled saying. “‘We’ve broken in Canada now, we’ve broken in Southeast Asia. Give us another chance.’ … That would not exist today. If you don’t make it right away, you’re done.”