In recent months, the ‘90s have been making quite the comeback. From Gen Z discovering the baggy pants and other fashion trends of yesteryear, to Millennials once again gushing about *NSYNC after the band’s brief reunion at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, many aspects of that era are resurfacing.
Adding to the nostalgia is 98 Degrees, comprised of Drew Lachey, Nick Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre, who are hitting the road to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the group. 98 Degrees, who separated themselves from the boy band pack with original lyrics and R&B influences, sold 10 million records between 1997 and 2002, and released a number of hits, including “Invisible Man.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m., 98 Degrees is making a stop at Parx Casino’s Xcite Center, 2999 Street Road in Bensalem, along with fellow boy band All-4-One. Ahead of the show, The Times caught up with Drew, who discussed the all-new tour, forthcoming music and whether or not they’ve adapted to new technology, such as TikTok.
Lower Bucks Times: Tell me about this tour….it’s to celebrate the 25th anniversary of 98 Degrees?
Drew Lachey: We’ve been trying to get this 25th anniversary tour on the books for a while now and we finally had a window of time where everybody was available, everybody’s calendars lined up and so, we’re hitting the road again. We’re doing 15, 16 cities over a couple week period, just trying to get back out there, engage with our fans, and then all gearing up for a new music launch in 2024 and a bigger, longer tour in the spring.
LBT: When was the last time you did a headline tour like this?
DL: We’ve done what we call the “weekend warrior model,” where we go out, we do weekends, and we’ve done that pretty consistently over the last several years minus that one little hiccup in there with that whole COVID thing that happened. But yeah, we’ve been kind of back together and performing pretty consistently since 2013. But it’s been a minute since we were able to get on the road, probably 18 months or so since we’ve been performing.
LBT: What does it mean to see the fans and know that they still want to see you guys all these years later?
DL: Honestly, that’s what it’s all about. It’d be one thing just to go into the studio and record music and put it out and whatever happens, happens. It’s that interaction that we’ve had with our fans for, you know, 25-plus years now that has made everything worthwhile, and that is ultimately why we still do it. You can sit in your basement like a hermit and write and record and do whatever. But our fans have been so supportive, so loyal, that they have become part of who we are. So when you aren’t out performing, you aren’t out engaging with them and interacting with them, you definitely feel like there’s something missing.
LBT: At these shows, have you found that it’s a lot of your original fans, or have you kind of reached Gen Z and the next generation?
DL: It’s a little bit of both. Of course, the majority of the fans are gonna be the same people that voted for us on TRL and waited in line at Tower Records and all those fun things that don’t exist anymore, who would record our performances on VHS tapes. But there are some people in the audience, you walk out there and you’re like, “How did you even hear about us?” And that’s part of the beauty of streaming and having music so readily accessible, is that people from every walk of life, every generation, can literally search one artist and it leads them down this rabbit hole and they discover new music that maybe they didn’t know. Or probably even more likely scenario, their mom or their older sister or their cousin or somebody was a 98 Degrees fan and they were exposed that way. Either way, we love our fans that have been around from the beginning and we love making new ones.
LBT: The show that I’m covering, it’s in the Bensalem/Philly area. Have you guys been there a lot before?
DL: We’ve been to Philly quite a few times. Yeah. It’s always kind of a blur when you go into different cities and you’re like, “Oh, we’ve never played this venue,” and then you walk in and you see the backstage area and you’re like, “No, we’ve definitely played here before.” For us, we spent a lot of time in all of Pennsylvania. We’ve set up camp there for literally weeks on end when we were on tour in the past. So, for us, our Pennsylvania fans have supported us for a long time. Philly has always been supportive as well. Sometimes we had to pop over and be in Orange … what’s the one right over the bridge?
LBT: Cherry Hill!
DL: Yes! I knew it was a fruit. Cherry Hill. We spent a lot of time in that area, but it’s gonna be great to get back. There’s just an energy from this region that our fan base gives us that’s unlike anything else anywhere. So we’re excited to see us have some of these dates in Philly and Jersey back on the calendar. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.
LBT: And you had mentioned new music in 2024. Can you talk a bit about that?
DL: Yeah, so we’ve already been in the studio, we’re already recording. We got a couple songs already done. So this release is gonna be five new originals and five remasters of hits. So kind of ala Taylor Swift because if Taylor’s doing it, everybody’s gonna do it. I mean, why not? If I was selling out stadiums then I’d be re-releasing everything too. So I think that’s going to be kind of the mix, five and five. But we’re really excited for the new music. We got some stuff that’s really, really great already done. We’re continuing to write and record. So, at the end of the day we’ll be like, “Alright, these are the five best new ones and these are the five that we’re gonna remaster and rerecord.”
It’s fun being back in the studio, but the process has changed a little bit. It used to be, all four of us would sit in the studio together and we would really just grind through it and just be there for days and days and days. Now, technology is great. Everybody’s got their own little home studio and, once the kids are down and the wife is watching Real Housewives or somewhere else, you sit down, you go to work in the basement and you record and then send it to the producer, and the next thing you know, you got a hit song. So the process has changed a lot, which makes it easier for us being that most of us are family men and we live in different locations, to kind of do this and still stay creative. But when you’re doing that, you still miss the camaraderie and the energy of singing together. So, that’s another reason why you gotta get on the road, you gotta be in the same place.
LBT: Speaking of new technology, have you guys adapted at all to social media, specifically TikTok?
DL: Begrudgingly, yes. I think anybody in this industry has to adapt to it somehow. Especially the music industry and TikTok. TikTok has become such a driving force in promoting new music and creating hits for that matter. Somebody spends 10 minutes swiping on TikTok, they hear the same song 47 times in a row. That’s power rotation in the old days on radio. You can’t beat that. So those sounds, those songs are gonna become part of the pop culture landscape. We’ve learned to embrace it. Instagram is a little bit easier for us to embrace than TikTok. But we’re slowly but surely getting there.
LBT: And I feel like as a whole with this next generation, I mean, I was born in ‘92 and stuff that I grew up with, like the butterfly hair clips and the big jeans, the boy bands obviously, it’s all making a resurgence. Can you speak to that a little bit?
DL: Oh, absolutely. And I’m 100% for the non-skinny jeans and the bigger T-shirts and stuff like that. I think there is definitely a nostalgia going around right now. I mean, everything is cyclical. Fashion comes back around, music comes back around, everything comes back around eventually. So I’m not surprised, but I think it is kind of interesting that it is this era and for me, it’s funny because now I see my 17-year-old daughter wearing all this stuff that my wife wore back when we were first together. So it is kind of a little walk down memory lane, but I love the fact that people are kind of rediscovering boy bands and pop music with this twist, everything has a little twist on it. Next thing we’re gonna have, what is it, the little…what were the little animals that you had to keep alive on the key chain?
DL: Yeah! Those are gonna be coming back next. It’s all gonna come back around.
LBT: Was there anything else upcoming or just anything in general that you wanted people to know about?
DL: Yeah, just in general, if people are interested in coming to see the show, whether it’s in Bensalem or somewhere else, go to 98Degrees.com. You can get all of our ticket stuff. You got the VIP meet-and-greets, all that fun stuff is on there. And if you’re just trying to figure out who 98 Degrees is and what we’re all about, you can follow us on our socials.
But for anybody that’s seen the 98 Degrees show, they know that it’s just a fun party. And this is a completely new show. Yes, we have the hits, but people that have seen us in the past, it’s not the same show. We went back into the rehearsal studio and we created a whole new show with new songs and new music and new layout and everything. So, for people that are coming the first time, you’re gonna enjoy it. For people that have seen us before, it’s a whole new spin.
Tickets are available at axs.com/events/481112/-tickets?skin=parxcasino.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com