Things got started several years ago when Jeff, a native of Ohio, moved out to Los Angeles to pursue his singing career. He formed a vocal group and when one of its former members, who was also a classmate of Nick and Justin's from the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, suggested Nick would be the perfect counterpart, Nick packed up his things and headed west. Justin was next to join the group, followed by Drew, then working as an emergency medical technician in Brooklyn. In between doing everything from landscaping to working as nightclub security guards, the guys honed their singing craft in talent shows and auditions.
Their big break came backstage at a Boyz II Men show when they met manager Paris D'Jon, a co-manager of multi-platinum R&B artist Montell Jordan. After a local radio station asked the enthusiastic group to perform on the air, Paris started talking to them and realized how serious they were about becoming professional vocalists. Before long, they were on the road with Montell and receiving raves for their dynamic live shows. Ultimately, after a record label buzz started bubbling, 98° unanimously decided to sign with Motown.
The rest of the story:
For the harmony-driven Ohio foursome 98°, it's not hard to get noticed. After all, for the past year, brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre, and Jeff Timmons have been busy wowing crowds worldwide due to the success of their self-titled debut album. Their new album, which finds the group collaborating with music's biggest producers, is sure to have them heating up the charts again. With their pop appeal and soulful harmonies, Motown's 98° are on the steady track to stardom with their sophomore release, 98° And Rising.
Though they did some writing and producing on their self-titled debut, which spawned the gold hit "Invisible Man," the guys stepped up their songwriting and producing efforts on their follow up CD. "We had more of a hands-on approach," Jeff explains. "We've had so much influence and control from the very beginning," adds Justin about their involvement during the marathon recording process, which took place during a two-and-a-half-month period in locales including New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. "It's got a lot more diversity and the songs are on a whole other level. There's something for everybody."
With a host of major producers - including The Trackmasters (Mariah Carey, Will Smith, LL Cool J, and Mary J. Blige), Pras of the Fugees, Keith Thomas (Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight), Anders Bagge (Robyn and Ace of Base) - contributing to 98° And Rising, the album spans the worlds of hip-hop influenced R&B and pop to Euro-dance and beyond. Drew explains, "It was an enlightening experience making this album. Working with such an electic group of producers opened us up musically."
The first song recorded for 98° And Rising was "True To Your Heart," an upbeat duet with Stevie Wonder. Also appearing on Disney's Mulan soundtrack, "True To Your Heart" has a distinctively old-school Motown flavor. For these lifelong fans of Stevie, getting the chance to do a duet with the music legend was a dream come true.
Drew and Justin even got the chance to sing lead on 98°' collaboration with The Trackmasters, the party jam "Do You Wanna Dance"
And for the group's fans who are familiar with their reputation as premier balladeers, 98° And Rising is full of romantic songs. "No matter what, the ballads are definitely our strong point," admits Justin. "We are always suckers for great love songs." "Because Of You" and "I Do (Cherish You)," a remake of Mark Wills' country hit of the same name, are two of the album's most tender tunes. Along the same lines is "Still," an acoustic guitar-accented homage to true love co-written and co-produced by 98° and Sean Hosein and Dane Deviller, the team who did "Invisible Man." A special highlight for the guys is their a cappella performance of the Michael Jackson classic "She's Out Of My Life." "That's how we started singing, so that's definitely a sound that we're very comfortable with," says Drew of the spare arrangement. "I get goosebumps every time I hear it - the harmonies on it are amazing."
The album is just the culmination of a whirlwind year filled with major achievements. Since the July 1997 release of 98°, they've been featured on national shows from CNN/Showbiz Today to E!-TV, NBC Weekend Today to Soul Train, and their most recent coup landing a spot on The Tonight Show to perform "True To Your Heart" with Stevie Wonder. "That's the biggest adrenaline rush I've had since I've been doing this," admits Jeff. "I couldn't help but think, 'What am I doing here?'"
Their debut album's first single, "Invisible Man," packed a punch all over the world, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, and took the album gold in Canada and the Philippines, where they have a seriously devoted following thanks to their massive touring. They've visited Canada, Germany, Holland, England, as well as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. And these sports fanatics were also excited to be chosen to sing the national anthem at the Chicago Bulls/Utah Jazz Game Five of the NBA Finals as well as at a Superbowl half-time event.
THE GUYS OF THE BAND:
Jeffrey Brandon Timmons, aka Sugar, was born on April 30, 1973, in Canton, Ohio. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He stands 5'8. Tatoos that he has are 98* and the jaspanese characters for heaven and good luck. Some of Jeff's favorites are: SONG: "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday" by the Boyzllmen FOOD: Seafood and Steak COLOR: Orange and Blue SPORTS TEAM: Dallas Cowboys MOVIE: "Shawshank Redemption"
Andrew John Lachey, aka Sprout, was born on August 8, 1976, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He stands 5'6". He has brown hair and hazel eyes. His tatoos includes Arm band with a "L" His Favorites includes: Song: "Purple Rain" by the Artist Formerly Known as Prince
Movie: "Braveheart" Food: Pizza Drink: Orange Juice Sports Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Nicholas Scott Lachey, aka Hollywood & Slider, was born on November 9, 1973, in Harlan, Kentucky. He stands 5'11". He has brown hair and baby blue eyes. His tatoo's includes Sun with a "98" in the middle, arm band with a "L" . His favorites include: Song: "Cherish the Day" by Sade Food: Skyline Chili, steak, seafood, and barbeque
Drink: Yoo-Hoo Color: Red Movie: "Die Hard" Sports: Football and basketball
Justin Paul Jeffre, aka Hydro, was born on February 25, 1973, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. He stands 5'10". He has brown hair and blue eyes. His favorites includes
Song: "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding Food: Pizza, Skyline Chili, and doughnuts Color: Blue Sports Team: the Bengals Movie: "Friday" and "Braveheart"