Saturday, August 30, 2014

EntertainmentWise: "O-Town On Reuniting, 'Making The Band' And Losing A Member"

Before The X Factor or Idol, there was Making The Band. A US TV smash not that dissimilar from the UK's Popstars, it lifted the veil on the rise and rise of boyband heart-throbs O-Town; whose singles ‘Liquid Dreams’ and ‘All Or Nothing’ remain prominent fixtures on many a throwback playlist to this day.
Now, twelve years after the release of their second album, they’re back. Erik-Michael Estrada, Dan Miller, Trevor Penick and Jacob Underwood may have bid a fond farewell to former member Ashley Parker Angel, but they’ve honed their songwriting skills, whet their fans’ appetites and now their big new album Lines & Circles is finally out in the open.
To celebrate, we had a chat with Jacob to find out how it’s all been going.
Congratulations on the comeback. How does it feel after all this time to have new music out there? 
"It’s exciting and anxious but I think also it’s really emotional, honestly. A lot of these songs, we wrote. I remember sitting in my car coming up with the line ‘Playing With Fire’ and humming this melody, and coming home working it out, recording it… and now you see people singing it back. It is emotional."
What’s the reaction generally been like to the new music? Has it been as good as you were hoping for? 
"Better! We are extremely indie right now, we are as indie as it gets, and when we saw the album was No10 on the iTunes pop charts, we were freaking out. It really feels so satisfying to have done all that work and then people like it."
O-Town are back (Photo: WENN)
How different has the whole process been compared to when you first started out? 
"Well back then we had a big machine, the big Clive Davies machine. All the departments, all the marketing… everything that goes into not only the development of the album but the push of the album. Now, Dan’s designed the album cover and every piece of material that’s out, like the T-shirts, Dan did. I manage the band now, so every business deal that we’ve done, I’ve written the contracts and made these deals… So when we finally see the charts and when we see people in the audience, it’s shown us that we did this. It’s more humbling than anything."
Obviously you’re a member down this time around. Is everybody still on good terms? 
"Oh yeah, with Ashley? Yeah, he decided to step away from music. We had the discussion as a group, ‘should we not do this because we're not all five?’. But we did it as a four because there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever wanna do this again, and we’ve been kind of teasing the fans for like three years, and it was kind of now or never. We hit the studio and never looked back. It’s been a really good experience. Not because Ashley’s not here, but because us four were able to get together and work so easily after so many years."
You shot to fame on Making The Band back in the day. The talent show landscape is much different now; do you think you could ever have gone for a show like The X Factor? 
"I get told all the time to go on those kinds of shows but I’m not real big on auditioning. O-Town was the first audition I ever went on and that was an accident! I don’t think I could stand in the line. I don’t know. But it’s fun watching kids from, like, the midwest who didn’t grow up in LA and didn’t have parents that worked in entertainmen. They never had that ‘in’. If they can go on these shows… I think that’s awesome."
Who are you listening to at the moment, in terms of other artists? 
"I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan. I really love everything he’s putting out. Him and obviously Pharrell are putting out some amazing music. They’re awesome. I’m a big Jack White fan as well."
And looking back on your own O-Town repertoire, do you have a favourite song? 
"Good memories of ‘All or Nothing’. I don’t think we could do this now if we didn’t have that as our Number One song. You can come back if you have a Number One. If we didn’t have that song, I don’t think we could do this again. My favourite song now is our next single, ‘Chasin' After You’, I think it’s one of the best songs we’ve ever done. It’s just fun!"
O-Town's new album Lines & Circles is available now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 "O-Town Talk About their Comeback, Social Media and Boy Band Brawls"

During the late nineties, any evidence of drama in the pop music world was typically swept under the rug in an effort to maintain an image of perfection — until ABC decided to expose everything, that is.
The network’s groundbreaking reality show Making The Band followed the creation of one band under the supervision of then-music mogul Lou Pearlman, the man responsible for the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync. From auditions to recording sessions and performances, North America would tune in weekly to watch Jacob Underwood, Ashley Parker Angel, Dan Miller, Erik-Michael Estrada and Trevor Penick become O-Town.
O-Town hit the top 10 charts with “Liquid Dreams” and “All or Nothing,” singles off of their 2001 self-titled platinum debut album. They followed it up with O2 in 2002, and then seemingly fell to the sophomore curse when they called it quits the next year.
Now, over 10 years and countless of rumours later, O-Town have finally reunited to release their third album, Lines and Circles.
During one summer afternoon, ANDPOP caught up with the four returning members just as one half of the band (Dan and Trevor) were doing their best to navigate their way from Los Angeles to San Diego for a photo shoot.
— —
ANDPOP: There were talks that the band was going to re-group back in 2011. Obviously that didn’t take plan out then, so what caused the delay?
Jacob Underwood: When we started talking about it, [talk was] all it was. It wasn’t like an announcement. It was interesting because everyone called it an “announcement.” All I did was put up a tweet saying, “Did somebody say O-Town?” because I was in a meeting and somebody said “O-Town.” From the feedback that we got from me making that tweet, that’s when it started to become real…It just took us this long to find the right relationships and the right people to work with.
Erik-Michael Estrada: I think timing was a real factor, too. We have our own individual lives, adult lives, you know. It’s kind of difficult for us to just jump back into this kind of project… Dan has a family and everyone has jobs. We kind of had to make a sacrifice and decide to all do it at the right time. That’s really why I personally believe that it took us a lot longer to get us to this point.

…But to get the response [we did after] being gone that long and then being warmly welcomed, I don’t think we’ve ever had that experience ever before in our career…
Erik-Michael Estrada
What do you mean by relationships?
Jacob: We had some of the worst [business] relationships you could imagine, like an old partner who stole a lot of money and is now in prison (Lou Pearlman, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding).
We had agents, we had managers contacting us, and we’d sit down and talk about, entertain [the idea of a reunion], but it never felt like the right match for us. We put it on hold until we found the right team because we know how much that’s worth now.
Your team is missing one recognizable member. What’s it like to bring the band back without Ashley Parker Angel?
Dan Miller: In the beginning we were, we wondered how it would work, but once we got into it – as far as, like, how it would work in the studio or how it worked on stage – everything kind of worked itself out. It would’ve been nice if the reunion worked out for him, but the timing wasn’t right for him. We wanted to move on because it was going to happen now or never. We wanted to make a move or move past it completely.
Out of curiosity, has anyone in group managed to keep in touch with Ashley?
Trevor Penick:  None of us really talk to him on a regular basis but we reached out and talked to each other throughout this process. He actually reached out to us a couple of weeks ago to say congratulations on everything. But if we were to start talking to him, it would be like no time has passed.
It’s no secret that O-Town was the product of a reality show. Ten years later, do you find that there’s more or less pressure now that you’re starting over without all the cameras?
Erik-Michael: The first time we tried this, we were so young and we happened to be put up against the two biggest boy bands in the world at the time; the standard was so high for us to reach. Obviously, we had the television show so failing was somewhat of an option that we tried to eliminate. There was a whole lot of pressure then. This time, it’s just been fun actually. It’s been a blast. Just working with the guys and discovering, you know, the limitless potential these guys have creatively, has been awesome.
What kind of pressures did you face on the reality show that you’re glad aren’t there anymore?
Jacob: I think the biggest pressure was just youth and inexperience. We really cared about the careers we wanted but we didn’t know that much. [We also] had so many big companies have a hand in what we were doing and they didn’t allow us much freedom because, you know, the investment was so great – which we realize and appreciate now. But back then it was frustrating just cause we didn’t know where we fit; we knew we were the “artists” but we weren’t allowed to be the artists we wanted. It was a really educational time for us and we now get to use [those experiences] and parlay them into the next venture of O-Town.
Dan, I saw that you posted a photo of all the VHS tapes that your mom recorded with all the live O-Town performances. Have any of you watched those videos? And what’s it like to have watched them?
Trevor: I watched a lot of it on YouTube and stuff just because it’s kind of like being on a sports team. You want to look at old film and see what was good, what was bad, what you would want to change… So it was pretty cool to watch our old stage shows and laugh at ourselves, and be like, “Oh, we were kind of good!” It was pretty fun.
Erik-Michael: I’m like, “Ughhh. I wish I didn’t wear that. I wish I didn’t do that thing I just did with my hand right there.”

I feel like it’s the first actual O-Town album because we have our fingerprints all over it. If we weren’t producing it, we’re playing on it, or writing it, we were there to arrange it.
Jacob Underwood
Jacob: They stand around too much. [Everyone laughs]What do you think of modern day boy bands?
Dan: There does seem like there has been a move for the boy bands to do less choreography, which was something that we did a lot of in our first run through.
I think the biggest thing for us this time is that, with our comeback, we’re really trying not to like compare ourselves with other boy bands. I mean, we are a boy band, but everyone has their own niche, and everybody’s trying to do their own thing.
Jacob: We kind of try to mix it up in the show and do a bunch of different things, and bring in a bunch of different things we didn’t do before. Actually, I was just really nervous the first time out when we just did our Europe run and seeing some of those shows on YouTube kind of filled me with some confidence, and filled the guys with some confidence [especially] moving into these stateside shows.
What was the reception like during those first couple of shows overseas and as the new O-Town?
Trevor: It was actually kind of surreal. You know when some people say, “Oh, we got back on stage and it felt like no time has passed,” and it actually did feel like that. We hadn’t done a show together in over ten years. After the first couple of beats of being out there on stage at our London show, our very first one back, it literally felt like old times. By the end of it, we were grooving again. It was awesome to see the fans out there singing our songs back to us again, and they were actually even singing “Skydive,” the song we just released (via their website) like a month before that. And that was a really cool thing as well.
Jacob: The last trip we made was unbelievable for the fact that we hadn’t released anything. We show up, and they’re singing word for word not only our old stuff, but the new stuff, and following us around and meeting us at the airport. It was like when everybody says they wished they could go back to high school. It was awesome.
What was like to see the Internet’s response to “Skydive”?
Erik-Michael: I think for me it was the most gratifying of all of the single that we have recorded. I know “Liquid Dreams” was the first time we were played on the radio – that was a big moment, a huge moment, I’ll never forget that – but to get the response [we did after] being gone that long and then being warmly welcomed, I don’t think we’ve ever had that experience ever before in our career — even with “All or Nothing.” To me, it was just a wonderful experience, probably the stand out from all the singles.
Let’s say we were able to bring social media back to when you first started as a band. Do you think you would have been as successful if you had social media around you during those early days?
Jacob: I think we did – we had like the first form of social media [with the show]. We were the first band to bring our fans into our personal lives in a sense. It was like a first connection. They didn’t just know our music; they knew our parents, they knew our brothers and sisters, they knew what we did last month… Back then, there was this big wall, everything was a big secret, and we tore that down with the reality show by allowing everyone into our personal lives, which is exactly what social media is doing now. We’re utilizing now to full effect because we don’t have a show; we’re trying to build the same connection we had before so we can share that with the fans and keep them in our personal lives.
Dan: Also, I think a Twitter by a 20-year-old Jacob would have been very controversial.
Jacob: Yeah, I probably would’ve been fined or been kicked off Twitter back then.
[Everyone laughs]
Just to touch on your new album, how many songs did you record for this album and how many made the cut?
Jacob: I think we did about 16, 17 or maybe 20 written, but we’ve picked 10 of our favourites. Like most albums, when people heard that we were making a record, they started pitching stuff to us. We were going through 100 songs a week. They seem to be all the same songs that people expect O-Town would do. We started looking through songs, and then started writing once we decided to do an album, and now 80 per cent of the album has been written by us. And I feel like it’s the first actual O-Town album because we have our fingerprints all over it. If we weren’t producing it, we’re playing on it, or writing it, we were there to arrange it. Everything that this record is is a piece of all of us. So it really it the first O-Town record.Just to touch on your new album, how many songs did you record for this album and how many made the cut?
I have one last really weird question. I was just wondering, if there was a boy band brawl, who would you want to see in the fight and what weapon would you wield?
Trevor: I would every band in the fight and the weapon I would choose is a floaty raft on a pool and I would suffocate everybody with it.
Jacob: I would have everyone in the fight, and I would have a peace pipe in one hand and a gun in the other. I would give [my opponent] a peace pipe first, but if that’s not working, I got solutions.
Dan: My weapon of choice would be my supersonic shoes because I would run away. I’m a lover not a fighter. I would run away as far as possible as everyone battles to the death. Then I’ll be the only one left standing—
Jacob: I would join you with a peace pipe.
Dan: —then I would be like, buy my album.
Erik-Michael: It would be me versus Justin Timberlake, and I would use my power of falsetto versus his power of falsetto. Then we would see who has the falsetto-y falsetto. Blow your eardrums. [Everyone laughs] It would be a boy band battle of falsettos.
Dan: That sounds painful.
Erik-Michael: It does sound painful.
Dan: I think Justin would win that. [Laughs]
Erik-Michael: I’m so glad my band has faith in me.
[Everyone laughs]
O-Town’s latest album, Lines and Circles, is available on iTunes now.


O-Town message to the Fans

"When we decided to reunite, we made the conscious decision to do so as independent artists. In exchange for complete creative control, we had to make some strategic compromises; more specifically a limited release of physical copies of Lines & Circles.

Although some physical copies are available as imports, in the short term our fans will have to download our album digitally.

This was not a decision we took lightly but felt that it was the best way to strategically use our resources.

NOW THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. Radio play and an overwhelming unified fan voice will be the only way to change this. So we've created the "Chasin After You" Fan Challenge.


Tweet, Post, Share, #ChasinAfterYouChallenge and we'll award special exclusive gifts and discounted entry into our OFFICIAL OTOWN FAN CLUB to those that go above and beyond.

Let's prove to everyone what we've always known...


Thanks and Love,


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

GetOutMag: Interview with O-Town

Created via the MTV/ABC television reality show “Making The Band,” O-Town, the adorable and extremely talented boy band, enjoyed success and fame back in 2000. Signed to Clive Davis’ label, J Records, the band was best known for its mega hit songs “All or Nothing” and “Liquid Dreams.” The group – composed of Trevor Penick, Dan Miller, Jacob Underwood, Erik-Michael Estrada and Ashley Parker Angel – suffered a disastrous breakup due to a complex contract, their manager Lou Pearlman’s alleged financial “Ponzi” scandal and the effects of 9/11. Their careers were cut tragically short. 
Ten years later, O-Town rose from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix and has reunited (minus Ashley) with a vengeance – and an incredibly powerful new single called “Skydive.” Their new album called “Lines and Circles” will be released on August 24. O-Town has reemerged strong and powerful, with a New York appearance happening on November 4 at Irving Plaza. I was fortunate to have had an enlightening and amusing conversation with Trevor, Erik-MICHAEL and Jacob.
Skydive,” your new hit single, is an unusually powerful and emotional song. You can feel the drama as you’re listening to it. The concept of the song is unique. What is the actual meaning of it?Erik-Michael: Yeah, “Skydive” is about a leap of faith, and we said that from the beginning. Attempting to do O-Town again, 10 years later, took a commitment and a leap of faith from us four, because there was no guarantee that anything was going to work. So we took that leap, and “Skydive” just seemed to be the right song, what we were going through career wise and with what we were attempting to do. It creates a metaphor for our fans, and for those who really didn’t follow us at all, they could feel safe, taking the leap with us too, cause it’s worth taking a risk together. Essentially that’s what the song really talks about.
For the record, has any one of you jumped out of a plane?
Jacob: Ah, Trevor has. I wanna do it, I’m just a wuss!
Has this song gone EDM yet?
Erik-Michael: We wanna maybe do a “Skydive” with an O-Town-like promotion with the fans, but we’re still in the beginning stages of trying to figure that out.
So are you guys on tour?
Jacob: Well, actually, like on and off.
Do you have any intentions of passing through New York?
Jacob: Oh yeah, definitely!
Trevor: We’re not on like a big 40-city tour, just because like Dan in our band is married and he has children. So we made a vow to each other that we wouldn’t do like the whole 50 days in a row on the road away from our families. We’re doing it in little spurts: two, three weeks at a time. In the beginning of November we’re gonna be all through the northeast. We’re doing New York, Philly, Boston. We’re gonna be out there for two weeks at Irving Plaza and a lot of really awesome venues.
Have you guys stayed in touch with one another through the years?
Erik-Michael: Yes, yes! We have stayed in touch over the years. We remained friends. We did have an ugly breakup. We really remained as tight as we could. Right after the band, we scattered and moved everywhere: Jacob moved to Nashville, I stayed in Orlando, Trevor moved back to California. Eventually all of us wound up migrating back to California, and it was then that we decided this could be a prime opportunity for us to kind of put a project together.
“Skydive” seems to be getting great reviews.
Jacob: Our new single is the first like uptempo song that can actually be played in a nightclub or bar and have people dancing to it. It’s not just looked at as an adult contemporary ballad, it’s a song for pop radio, and can be played in a club.
How is it different this time around than the first time?
Trevor: I think one of the biggest differences we have, we always talk about the social media aspect. Just having the Twitter, the Instagram, the Facebook and all that – it’s very different. But it also is awesome because it gives the fans a chance to get into our lives, like they did before because we had the TV show, and we were very accessible media wise. I think [that] is the biggest difference. Erik, you wanna touch on the music?
Erik-Michael: Yeah, yeah. The music is different, the players are different. I guess that’s the biggest thing. When we first started – if there was a lack of welcoming from the industry, it was because of the television show, and everyone automatically thinks that we’re manufactured at that point. And the biggest difference this time around is that there isn’t any major player. There’s no Lou Pearlman. There’s no Clive Davis. There’s no MTV. There’s no ABC. We had the biggest entities in the music business behind our last project, and this time it’s really just us. We put in our announcement video when we started the project, and everything we said in that announcement was incredibly sincere. This time around it’s only us. We’ve embraced it. We have 70% of the album that we’ve co-written, and Dan did all the design work for the album, so all of the concepts are coming from us. So everything that you see coming out of “Lines and Circles,” our new album, has all been touched by O-Town. This is the first real O-Town product that people are going to get a taste of.
Any brand new groupies?
Erik-Michael: Not yet, still the old ones. They’re 25 now, 26, so that’s cool.
Erik, if you could trade places with anyone, alive or dead, famous or not famous, for a week, who would you choose?
Erik-Michael: If I could change my life for a week…
Derek Jeter.
Erik-Michael: I would be Derek Jeter right now. That’s a good one, Trevor, I love you for that. I was gonna be Michael Jordan in ‘96, but Derek Jeter retiring, going on his last hurrah, I think that would be awesome. I’m from New York. Of course, Derek Jeter, absolutely!
If you were a superhero, what kind of powers would you want? 
Jacob: Dan would be Invisible Man.
Trevor, if you were a porn star, what would your name be?Trevor: Trevor Penick! You know that game you play on the street, when you pick your pet’s name and the street you grew up on – whatever? My name would be…my porn name would be Lee Centers.
If Hollywood were to make a movie out of you, who would you want to play you?
Erik-Michael: Trevor would be Will Smith.
Jacob: I’ve been told like seriously since I’ve been in seventh grade that I look like a Wahlberg so I’ll say Mark Wahlberg, but I’m sure James Franco can play me.
Erik-Michael: I think I’d have Antonio Banderas play me. Why not? He’s a strapping Latin man. And Dan, you could put Ryan Gosling for Dan.
Jacob: No Dan, you can put David Schwimmer.
As a band, what’s your strongest quality?
Jacob: Our uniqueness. Most bands grow up together in high school or college, they hang out, but if you see us, we definitely don’t look like we hang out. We’re very… we’re four different guys.
Erik, what’s Trevor’s worst quality or trait.
Erik-Michael: Trevor’s worst quality? I don’t know about his worst quality, but his most embarrassing quality is constantly bringing up old things like old mistakes that you’ve made that you’ve totally forgot about – like 14 years ago. “Remember when you totally missed that dance step, 14 years ago?” He definitely pulls that every once in a while.
Jacob, what’s Dan’s worst quality?
Jacob: His pessimism. Dan’s the guy you’re always talking to, “Yeah – it’s gonna be OK man,” “Trust me, it’s gonna be fine.”
Anyone can answer this one. What’s Erik’s worst quality?Trevor: Wait, wait! I don’t get a turn?
Trevor, go for it. Go ahead and answer both Erik’s and Jacob’s worst trait.Trevor: Yeah – leave me out. OK, this is Trevor on Jacob. Call it whatever you want, but one of his bad qualities is also a good quality, and it’s his stubbornness. I think Erik’s worst quality is his “introvertism,” his ability to block out everything that is going on around him and focus on just whatever he’s doing.
Erik-Michael: It’s a good and bad trait, because I tend to block out people when I probably shouldn’t block out people. But it’s something that allows me to focus too – you know, just like Jacob, it’s our strength and our weakness.
Where do you hope to be in another 10 years?
Erik-Michael: Hopefully still making awesome music and touring around. Making money doing what we love.
“Lines and Circles” will be released August 24. The guys tell us the next single will be “Chasing After You,” which is the album’s first track. Start requesting it on your favorite radio stations today! And don’t miss O-Town’s New York City appearance on November 4 at Irving Plaza. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster and the O-Town website.
Source: GetOutMag

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not a Liquid Dream: O-Town's Back, Baby. But Where’s Ashley?

The last great boy band of the early 2000s, O-Town, is back with Lines and Circles.

Erik-Michael Estrada, Dan Miller, Trevor Penick, and Jacob Underwood, all now in their mid-30s, wade back into the boy band game, after a 30-second ‘N SYNC reunion at last year’s VMAs and the great Backstreet Boys cruise of 2014. Though they shed one member along the way (the requisite heartthrob, Ashley Parker Angel, declined to be part of the comeback), Underwood says it was only a matter of time before the band got back together—but first, they had to find the right management.
That was a big part of it, finding the right team,” he says. “Once we felt like we had a good team around us and we were all somewhat close in area, it just felt like the right time. And then it hit 10 years so we felt like it was now or never.
O-Town was the product of ABC’s Making the Band, a pre-American Idol reality show that whittled down hundreds of boy band hopefuls to five future “superstars.” Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind LFO, ’N SYNC, and the Backstreet Boys (and a Ponzi scheme enthusiast largely remembered now as one of pop music’s sleaziest swindlers) was the show’s puppet master, overseeing every audition to handpick his next hitmakers. The experiment was a success: In 2001, O-Town went platinum with their eponymous debut and “Liquid Dreams” and “All or Nothing,” their most popular singles, hit no. 10 and no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, respectively.
But then the dream ended. O-Town’s sophomore record, O2, delayed numerous times before its release, moved far fewer units than the band’s debut and, by November of 2003, the group had been dropped from J Records and disbanded. The era of denim-on-denim boy bands was over—until, with the rise of another group of reality show-made teen pop idols, One Direction, it wasn’t. 
The voices harmonizing on Lines and Circles are huskier than they were 11 years ago—but the quartet is still, undeniably, a boy band in all their hook-laden, lovestruck glory. “Skydive,” the album’s lead single, is an early-aughts throwback with a modern sheen, a theme worked heavily into the album to please old fans. It seems to have worked: While touring Europe for the first time in 12 years this past summer, O-Town was greeted in droves by die-hard loyalists at airports and venues.
Erik, Trevor, Jacob and Dan talked to The Daily Beast about their return to music, bad fashion choices, dirty lyrics, and returning to the stage without Ashley Parker Angel.
The first thing I wanted to say is, for the record, Erik, I like the album cover you came up with. 
DAN, TREVOR, JACOB: (Laughter.)
ERIK: Yeah man, my ass was too big. 
What are your plans for this reunion? Do you want to tour America? Or maybe line up a cruise boat like the Backstreet Boys?
JACOB: Yeahhh, let’s do a cruise!
TREVOR: Yes. Please.
JACOB: You guys plan it, we’ll go.
DAN: We’re just trying to take it one step at a time. The 10 years away gave us good perspective. We realized as quickly as it comes, it can go away so we’re just trying to have fun this time and embrace everything in the moment. Right now we have a bunch of shows lined up. We did a bunch of shows in Europe. And whatever comes in the future, we’re looking forward to.
You guys disbanded after only your second album and then we pretty much didn’t hear from you again until now. What was life like as you fell out of the spotlight?
TREVOR: It was pretty much what it was before we got into it. It’s not like we were the biggest thing in the world for like 15 years and then we had to go into obscurity. It wasn’t that hard for us to just go back and be normal again. It wasn’t that hard for me, I don’t know how it was for the other guys—I assume it was the same. We went through an audition and then we worked for four years and then we each went and did our own individual things.
DAN: There was an adjustment period though because it’s like, no matter how far we move away from the band, it wasn’t like, “This is Dan.” It was always, “This is Dan from O-Town. This is Erik from O-Town.” But even though it had been at some point, nine years since the group had been together, it was like always gonna stick with you, so it was like the same questions over and over. I actually enjoyed getting away from the spotlight and celebrity but at the same time, you had to come to grips with the fact that it was never going to leave completely. Like even though you weren’t on TV every week or on the radio all the time, people were always gonna recognize you [and] associate you with the group.
Music has changed so much in the past decade, where do you see O-Town fitting in now?
ERIK: I think the best way for us to stay relevant is to stay true to ourselves. That being said, I know all of us have acquired new tastes in music. Our tastes are just, across the board, super eclectic, so I think staying true to ourselves and saying, “All right, this is what we do. Let’s see how we can add a contemporary feel to all the music that we have,” keeping that music fresh is exactly what’s gonna keep us relevant and keep us around. All four of us pretty much have a good pulse of what’s hot and where we wanna go. I think that’s the one thing that’ll help us stay around this time around.
Do you guys see yourselves in bands like One Direction, which were also brought together on a reality show?
ERIK: Oh, absolutely. That’s why people will be like, “Oh, you guys are from TV, like One Direction!” We had our opportunity and now they have their opportunity and we definitely see a lot of ourselves in them as they experience this thing on that major level. We look back and are like, “Wow. We experienced that.” And now they get to go through it and grow with their fans, just like we got an opportunity to grow with our fans. And hopefully 10 years later, they can get together and put out an album that they can be proud of just like we’re proud ofLines and Circles.
Is there any advice you would give modern boy bands?
JACOB: I’d say just enjoy every day. Like we are examples of how it goes as quickly as it comes and you never know what’s gonna happen to your life, but day-to-day if you’re enjoying it and really experiencing the moment without looking too far ahead or too far behind.
What has getting back together been like without Ashley Parker Angel?
ERIK: I think it changed the focus a bit, where we knew that—you know, let’s be honest, when we first started, he was the face of the band. We were selling records to young girls, it was clear that he was, you know, the fan favorite back then. But we knew that moving forward without him, we have to stand on something a little more solid. We had to make sure that the music was really there, fun and introspective at the same time. And I think that’s the biggest difference now: We’re relying solely on our album and our live performance. There is nothing else that’s driving this group.
When was the last time you guys spoke to him?
ERIK: He texted us about a few weeks ago, just to kind of give us a congratulatory text on “Skydive” and the video. It was a classy move on his part. But I haven’t spoken to him physically in quite some time.
DAN: I went out to lunch with him recently and it was just like old times. I think he just wasn’t interested in being in the band right now, it was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. And the four of us were.
Is he an underwear model now? That’s what I gleaned from his Instagram photos.
ALL: [Laugh.]
TREVOR: Yeah, I think he is pursuing modeling, I think that’s what I gather from all his Instagram photos. I think that’s what he’s trying to do.
DAN: I think you might have to ask him what’s going on with the underwear pictures.
What are the other main differences between the O-Town of now and a decade ago?
ERIK: We’re wiser now, I think that’s the number one thing. We have that opportunity right now to do what we did when we were younger but with the minds we have now and the work ethic. Everyone has improved, thankfully. The bottom line is it comes down to having improved as a person, so the amount of input and contribution from every single member of the band has just been in spades. That just was not present before at all and it truly is this time around. I mean, Dan has done all of the design work for the album, including the butt shot, Jacob with the management and Trevor with the live performances, and myself with songwriting. All of us have contributed so much to it. That’s the major difference.
DAN: The music industry is always going to be shady. It’s always gonna be a tough business to stay in. But what’s changed for us is, like Erik said, the knowledge that we gained and the bad experiences that we were able to build on in the past to make sure we protect ourselves no matter what going forward.
Was working with Lou Pearlman one of those bad experiences?
JACOB: We could categorize working with Lou Pearlman as both bad and good because we learned what not to do and how to spot faulty characters. And then the experience of working with Clive Davis was a great one. We learned about big business and how the big labels do it, and how it runs, a big machine. Those aren’t bad experience but it definitely shaped how we view the industry now and where we see that we fit and the role that we play.
What was life like at the height of O-Town’s popularity, when “Liquid Dreams” was on the radio? You guys were so young and fame came about very quickly for you because of Making the Band.
TREVOR: We were definitely, like 21 years old, 20. It was a whirlwind. Literally, we had something to do every single day. We toured and did 300 shows in a year, we had like four days off the whole year in like, 2001. It was just a whirlwind. It’s hard to remember…We all have great memories of it and remember small, little things but it’s hard to remember specifically a lot of what it was because it was so crazy.
ERIK: I think it was intense at first because it was a television show. That television show really sparked the whole process, it just created such a high standard for us. We had to work so hard just to even think of matching that standard. Like Trevor said, it was a blur.
Now for the fun part: Let’s talk about the clothes you guys wore back then.
ALL: (Laughter.) Oh no…
Honestly, as far as boy bands in the early 2000s go, your clothes weren’t as outlandish as, say, ‘N SYNC’s. But I did see a photo of Dan wearing a see-through mesh tank top and there were some studded belts, baggy pants…
DAN: I’m not sure what you’re talking about with this mesh tank top thing. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
TREVOR: We were kind of the last boy band through that window in the 2000s, and because we were always compared to ‘N SYNC and Backstreet Boys, it was intentional on our part to be a little bit less cohesive than they were, a little bit less matchy-matchy. We’re all individuals, so we were trying to have a little more individual style. But unfortunately, along that way, we had some mesh tank tops and we had some baggy denim Sean John jumpsuits—
JACOB: Sean John!
TREVOR: There were some bad decisions. But let’s be honest, Melissa, we don’t exactly have pictures of you in the 2000s, I don’t think you’d be impressed with what you wore either.
[Laughs] Fair point. Although denim-on-denim is actually making a comeback, like what you guys wore on your first album cover.
JACOB: Yes it is, totally. Totally.
ERIK: Just not two sizes too big.
JACOB: Exactly.
So I listened to “Liquid Dreams” again for the first time in a few years and noticed it’s a pretty dirty song for a boy band.
TREVOR: Well we know the whole time exactly what it meant. But when we first started, our main core audience was 14, 15 years old and there’s no way we dropped records saying “It is what it is.” For those who knew, they knew, and for those who were young and didn’t know, they clearly found out when they were old enough to find out. [Laughs] But if you look back at the anthology of O-Town, we’re pretty much a dirty band. We sang a lot of risqué songs that were kind of like under the radar ’cause of how cleverly they were put together, but I meancome on. “Fitting Together Nicely,” “Every Six Seconds”? The list goes on and on.
“I wanna go inside every corner / Girl, you really turn me on / I wanna go knock, knock our bodies to the beat”? That’s intense.
DAN: We’re actually talking about going inside of a dance club and knocking on the door. Like, “knock, knock” trying to get in.
TREVOR: [Laughs] We weren’t talking about that. “Fitting Together Nicely” was about being physically with a girl and “Liquid Dreams” was about nocturnal emissions, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it.