It’s the day 98 Degrees fans have been waiting for: The band’s first new album in more than a decade, 2.0, hit stores Tuesday (May 7). The foursome told MTV News that the album title is fitting as they launch this new phase of their career.
“It’s sort of the next version of 98 Degrees,” Justin Jeffre said about their first release since 2000’s Revelation. “We’re still 98 Degrees, but we’ve stretched as artists and we tried to go beyond. What we didn’t want to do was just do what we’ve already done before. We wanted to go beyond that.”
Jeff Timmons added that, despite their updated sound, the guys haven’t changed much since their 1.0 days. “We’re the same guys. We’re entertainers, singers, trying to evolve musically. Same guys, just a different era and, you know, trying to come up with new, cool stuff,” he said.
Some of that new, cool stuff includes their unexpectedly cheeky single “Microphone,” as well as working with a new pack of hitmakers like Ne-Yo and Bruno Mars to add some new-millennium sparkle to their signature sound. And it’s not just their sound they’re updating, but also what they’re singing about, since most of the guys are married with kids these days. 98 Degrees are all grown up.
“Over the past 13 years since we’ve recorded a record, a lot [has] happened to us individually,” Drew Lachey said. “We’ve grown a lot as individuals, and that all helps influence the music and how we interact with each other as a group and how we interact with our fans. You know, back in the day, you take things for granted, and now, after time, you’re able to look at it with fresh eyes and say, ’Wow, that was a really magical moment. I wish we would have taken a little more time and enjoyed [it].’ We’re just going to be able to go for it and really enjoy it.”
In addition to new music, the guys are also going on a big summer tour, hitting the road on the Package Tour with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men later this month.
“We’ve had a lot of fun together, obviously getting back in the studio, making new music. Trying to figure out what the new sound is going to be has been a lot of fun,” Drew said. “And, of course, now getting ready for the tour we’re going out on this summer is a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.
“We’re a family. As dysfunctional as we are, we are family, and getting back together, we know each other, we love each other — most of the time,” he jokingly added. “So being back together, getting back together is just like riding a bike, so it’s a lot of fun. … The magic never dies.”
That magic, Timmons noted, is “actually better. We have the same sound, we have the same blend, but I think our experiences taught us a lot about how were gonna be as performers, and this new record definitely identifies with the new quality and contemporary sound.”