Back With All The Original Members TROOP Is On A Mission For Total Respect
Having scored five number one overall singles among ten top ten singles on the Billboard R&B charts, in addition to three certified gold and one certified platinum album, Pasadena, California, based quintet, TROOP, an acronym for ‘Total Respect Of Other People’, were a musical juggernaut; a one-time industry behemoth if you will. Formerly signed to Atlantic Recordings, the collective, comprised of childhood friends, Steve ‘Random’ Russell, John ‘Jon Jon’ Harreld, Rodney Benford, Reggie Warren and Allen McNeil, are probably best known for their biggest hit offerings, “All I Do Is Think of You,” a splendid Jackson 5 remake, their spot on The Deele redo “Sweet November,” and an original composition “Spread My Wings,” which has since become their go-to signature tune.
Parlé Mag recently had the good pleasure of hanging out with one-fifth of the collective, Steven Russell Harts, and here’s what actually transpired…
Parlé Mag: First things first, the great news, is that it has recently been reported that former group member/co-lead singer Mr. Allen McNeil has finally returned to the fold, pretty exciting stuff. So tell me, after everything that has already been said and done in the past, how did this situation even come to fruition?
TROOP: Allen took the time he needed to clear his path to see the group again…and we gave him that time to do so.
Parlé Mag: Now that the unit is back fully intact, what can be expected from this eagerly awaited reunion of the collective?
TROOP: You can expect some new music, and concerts most of all.
Parlé Mag: Back in 2014, and after the release of a pair of “dope” singles; the Hit-Boy laced “Forever” and “Not In A Million Years,” that unfortunately flew under the mainstream radar, it was then announced that a brand new LP entitled The Return would be “coming soon.” With that being said, how come nothing has since materialized in regards to a full-length collection?TROOP: Well, we don’t wanna spend all our time recording and none of our fans get to hear it, so we are just waiting for the perfect situation to release our product so that our fans know it’s there.
Parlé Mag: In having said that, it’s been well over eighteen long years since the masses last heard from you all, where have you all been? And, what exactly have you all been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during this lengthy hiatus?
TROOP: Well, we all decided to take time away from all the drama that had amassed and figure out ourselves individually… it just happened that it took all those years to do it. We all lived different lives. me, Steven, I continued writing and producing for other artists that were currently popular at the time, Al Mac recorded his solo albums and so did Jon.
Parlé Mag: Why did you all opt to take so much time off between TROOP records?
TROOP: It wasn’t a choice, it’s just the way things turned out. When you fall out of appreciation, anything can happen.
Parlé Mag: So then, what was it about NOW, in 2017 specifically, that prompted you all to decide to make this “official” comeback?
TROOP: Well, life is short and whatever we are going to do we feel like we need to do it now. The R&B world is suffering bad… we wanna give it CPR.
Parlé Mag: How has not only the business of music in general changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
TROOP: It’s a totally different game now. No labels care to develop artists anymore; they want you to already have everything you need in tow.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
TROOP: We were fortunate enough to record a couple of classic songs early on that keep us alive.
Parlé Mag: In addition to your other endeavors as/with TROOP, you, Allen and Jon Jon have all dropped solo projects. What prompted you all to take this route? And ultimately, were you all content with the end results?
TROOP: I think we all wanted to do individual projects, and there was no better time then when the group was on hiatus. I was very happy with the results of my project; to me, the success is in the accomplishment not the sales.
Parlé Mag: I know that you are also known for your outside works as part of The Underdogs production squad. What are your future plans and/or goals for/with the team?
TROOP: I no longer work with The Underdogs; the company disbanded a few years ago… everyone is working independently.
Parlé Mag: Do you all have any other outside/additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
TROOP: Yes, I give lectures around the country on life and knowledge of self. Al Mac is still recording, as well as Jon Jon.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of R&B? And, as an extension to this question, when it comes to the overall sound-scape of today’s current music trends, where exactly do you all “fit in?”
TROOP: We don’t fit in… what is today’s music scene to fit into? There is only a handful of artists today that even gets recognized. We have to do what Bruno Mars is doing; REAL MUSIC. It always wins.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s)?
TROOP: When TROOP performed for the first time on The Arsenio Hall Show.
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you all see yourselves?
TROOP: In Peace and Appreciation and Alignment with Self.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for TROOP?
TROOP: We are currently attempting to harness once again the momentum that propelled us the first time.
Parlé Mag: Any “parting” words for our readers?
TROOP: Yes… things are not always what they seem to be, look within yourself for the answers.
Readers Also Liked: