Less than 98 degrees.

The last time I saw Jeff Timmons and his fellow bandmates of 98 Degrees, it was almost 10 years ago at their album promo tour in Penang. I was at the second floor, crouched under someone’s legs just so I could take some shots of them with my old analog camera, which were not exactly the best pictures in the world either. When the concert was over, we had a hoorah at the front stage, where we were literally fighting over their posters, and I went home with a poster with a huge chunk of it torn off at the upper right corner.

Ah, those were the pop band crazed days. The late 1990s. Everywhere you look there was a new boy band or girl band popping up like mushrooms after rain, and following close behind their heels were a throng of girls with spine-curling screams at their good looks and short skirts. The bodyshakin’ 911, the Backstreet Boys who will never break your heart, the boys from N Sync who are tearin’ up your heart, the Spice Girls who tells you what they want, what they really, really want, and also the not so invisible men of 98 Degrees.

Admit it, you had one of those days yourself too. It would be a total sham if you consider yourself a music fan without going through that phase, no matter how short it was.

Fast forward to today, I have outgrown boy pop, as did the rest of my generation, though still enjoy it from time to time. And 98 Degrees have stopped being a band and gone on to do their individual projects, like most of the bands in their generation. The limelight was entirely on Nick Lachley and his publicised wedding life with Jessica Simpson, from the moment they said “I do” to the day they got a divorce.

A little left from the spotlight was Jeff Timmons, always standing a little behind Nick in the group posters, and singing second verses after Nick’s firsts. I never knew what Jeff Timmons was up to from the 98 Degrees hey days till now. So, when I found out TraXXFM was having a welcoming dinner for Jeff Timmons to join their road tour, the first question that popped into my head was, “Why the heck is he doing here?”

Meeting a musician is not really that fun and exciting unless it is someone you are really thrilled to be in the same room with. He may not be Ben Gibbard or Damien Rice, whom both I already have perfected questions dying to fire at them. I wanted to drill Jeff deep, give him a hard time with the whole boy band business, but alas, I did not have all the time in the world with him to ask him anything and everything. But as a journalist, it will always bring a sense of accomplishment in you when the interviewee patted your shoulder and said, “Great questions. Thanks for the interview.” Maybe he is being polite. Maybe he would take whatever attention he needs, seeing that he is not that popular anymore. But it is still a comforting sound for my part.

98 Degrees have been laying low since 2002, and you released a debut solo album, Whisper That Way, in 2004. The last time you visited Malaysia was in 1999, almost ten years ago. What prompted you to visit us now four years later?
I am planning to have a world tour in January 2009, so I decided to stop by Malaysia first to get things into gear before the New Year begins.

What is the purpose of your visit to Malaysia this time around?
Basically, this your is just for me to meet my fans. After being away for so long, I thought it would be nice to see them again in person. Other than that, I am looking forward to visit the places of interest in Malaysia. Before this, I do not know much about Malaysia, so hopefully, this trip will fill me in on the details. I am really excited about this tour.

Do you have any expectations from your fans in this trip?
No, not really. I am new on this solo-wagon, so I am open for any kinds of feedbacks from my fans. I will just wait and hear what they think of the songs in my solo album, and hopefully, with their comments I can grow more as a music artistes.

98 Degrees was big on being an a capella group. How is it like for you now that you don’t have your bandmates to back you up in performances?
Obviously, there is a big different in performing with a band, and solo. Last time, I have Nick, Drew and Justin backing me up, and sometimes I can afford to slack off a tiny bit. But now that I am solo, I just need to step up and do my all while performing. All eyes are on me and only me now, so I have to pay more attention so I do not screw up.

Are we going to expect 98 Degrees to make a comeback anytime soon? It’s sort of a “now or never” thing. I mean, Backstreet Boys, Take That, Spice Girls and even NKOTB has done it. N Sync has always said they would do it but look at them now, they have broken up anyway. So, what is the verdict for 98 Degrees in this whole comeback business?
We’re definitely coming back. I can’t put a date on it yet, but we have been talking about it on and off. I mean, just last weekend, I was on the phone with Nick and we were talking about putting the band together again. And I don’t think we’re waiting too long for it, because we all have our own projects to work on, but we are hoping to get back into the studio together to make a new record.

Is there going to be a slight change in your music by then?
I think so. I mean, music changes everyday and we can’t really stick to the same stuff all the time.
(Ah well, not that I’m holding my breath: musicians say that all the time and in the end, it’s still the same sound)

You were in a recent reality TV show called Manband. It’s basically a combination of four “has-beens” band members – himself, Chris of N Sync, Bryan of Colour Me Badd and Rich of LFO – coming together to make a new band, Sureshot, and revive the boyband era. How did you think that work out for you guys as a band member?
Well, to be honest, not much really. I mean, the show did well, but for us as a band, it didn’t really do much changes. Sureshot hasn’t done anything since that TV show, and even in the show some parts have been edited. Besides, we all have our own bands to go back to, so I didn’t really expect we would come together and do something serious anyway.

Are you guys really that desperate to revive the “boyband” in you guys? Is “boyband” really that dead for you?
I don’t think boybands are dead. I mean, look at The Jonas Brothers. As long as there’s a young crowd out there looking for music like that, that genre will never be dead. But for us, I think it’s way over and we should move on. I mean, back when 98 Degrees were still together, we were not actually a boyband either. We were already an older crowd and I wouldn’t say we were doing boyband stuff either. (Oh yes, you would). We did mostly ballads. So, we’re definitely through with jumping out of balloons on stage and all that. 98 Degrees have never done that, so I don’t think we’ll be doing that anytime soon.

++
Jeff Timmons will be in Malaysia via TraXXFM from October 13, 2008 till October 24, 2008.

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5 Responses to “Less than 98 degrees.”

  1. Corinne Says:

    This was fun to read! Thanks.

  2. Alejandra Says:

    He’s fun and his interwiew is amazing!!!!

  3. Ramo Says:

    Awesome interview!!! I hope the band does come back cause theres no one else that can sing like them.

  4. Kate Says:

    Jeff has more talent than Nick! Jeff’s voice is wonderful, his body is better, his muscular arms are bigger than Nick’s!!!

  5. Jackson songs listen Says:

    Just wanted to say I just ordered this Thriller Album, to bring back Michael in our memories. I grew up with MJ. He is the Best! We will certainly miss you.

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