[INTERVIEW] Totally In Control, O-TOWN Open Up About Their Independence & “Best Work”

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Originally formed as the offspring of the first season of the MTV-produced hit reality TV series, Making the Band, boy band-ers O-TOWN have become a household name, who still draw huge crowds and lifelong fans. Originally comprised of Erik-Michael Estrada, Trevor Penick, Jacob Underwood, Dan Miller and Ashley Parker Angel, in 2000, O-Town would soon go on to unleash their platinum-plus, self titled, J Records debut in 2001, which in turn spawned a succession of chart climbing singles; including, “Liquid Dreams,” “All or Nothing,” “We Fit Together” and “Love Should Be a Crime.”

After releasing their, then highly anticipated, sophomore follow-up, O2, in 2002, sadly the group disbanded. However, O-Town eventually reformed in 2013 as a quartet, after Parker Angel unfortunately opted to turn down the offer to rejoin.

We recently caught up with the members of O-Town to talk about their new music, their lengthy career and much more.  Check out the full O-Town interview below.

Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into this lead single, “OFF” — tell me about this particular track; how did it even come to fruition?
Erik: I co-wrote and cut the original vocals for “OFF” almost a year ago, and it was shopped and cut by several different artists over that time but none of the versions hit home. So, my buddy and producer, Ryan OG, pulled it from the market and decided to cut the guys vocals on it. Once him and I heard the final arrangement, we knew the song belonged to O-Town.

O-Town The OTWN Album cover
Parlé Mag:
“OFF” comes courtesy of your exceedingly overdue, official 4th studio collection, The O.T.W.N Album.  Tell us about the project.
Erik: We have never had this much control over what product we put out in the world. That said, we know ourselves now, better than ever, and I think this album conveys that. The changes in moods from one song to the next, songs about an incredible love found and loves to be lost, messages of hope and, yeah, a few songs about sex, give the album balance in my humble estimation.

Parlé Mag: How would you all say that this album compares to previous O-Town efforts for fans who have been following from day 1?
Erik: I believe it’s our best collective work to date; using the word “our” in the most inclusive of ways imaginable. We crowd-funded this album on Kickstarter and the fans have been supporting us through the entire process. They legitimately helped produce this album, and we could not have done this without their faith in us.

Parlé Mag: It’s been nearly five long years since the last O-Town project, Lines & Circles, why such a lengthy delay between records?
Jacob: We’ve been touring a LOT, and since this album was funded by the fans we wanted to make sure it was our best work yet. Over the last almost 3 years of recording this album, we’ve been able to test the songs out in our live shows then go back and make changes, which is the first time we’ve ever been able to do that.

Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you all — both individually and collectively — either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Jacob: It took all our past experience, both in the band and outside of the band… like our schooling, to be able to do things the way we do them now. These days, we’re self-managed; all the music and artwork is a product of us, including our stage show and choreography. We take a lot of pride in our ability to operate this way, and we couldn’t have done it without the years of work we’ve put in.

Parlé Mag:  Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
Jacob:  We truly love making music and performing together. If we didn’t enjoy it like we do we wouldn’t be able to sustain what we have and become even stronger than we’ve ever been as a team and family.

Parlé Mag: What do you all want people to get from your music?
Jacob: Each song is different, but overall we want you to be able to get lost in the music for a while. To step out of your ordinary routine and make you feel something. Whether its just to bust out dancing, or a memory that a song can bring back to life. We put our hearts into each song and I know you can feel that.

Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of music? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you all “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Jacob:  I think we fit in just fine with a few different genres of Pop, and truthfully, that’s what I feel it’s become. Country, dance, Hip-Hop, rock, they all have their respective forms of “pop” within each genre. What’s great about our group is that within one band you can cover so many different sounds because we as individuals are so different from each other and the sounds we’re able to capture working together.

Parlé Mag: Do you all have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Jacob: We all dabble in writing and acting, and O-TOWN allows us a little bit of time for solo projects here and there. But honestly, I think we’re all having so much fun with O-TOWN right now that our main focus is keeping it going while the fans are there to support us. We never thought we’d get a second chance like this, and we’re making the most of it this time around.

Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your greatest career achievement, at least thus far anyway?
Jacob:  I think we’d all agree that The O.T.W.N. Album we just released is our greatest achievement to date. From being funded by the fans, to creating the live show and the music videos, and all the press performances we’ve been able to do this go around is a blessing we never thought we’d have again. The hard work paying off is the greatest feeling anyone can have. When you put in the work against all odds is when is when the payoff is the sweetest.

O-Town interview
Parlé Mag:  What is one track of yours that you think defines O-TOWN and why?
Trevor:  I believe there are a number of tracks throughout a career that can define an artist. At this particular time and speaking about this album I think “Cut the Cord” resonates the most to me with where this band is at in the current moment. We’ve Cut the Cord from the major label and do everything in house with our band now, which is an amazing feeling. We allowed the fans to fund this album through Kickstarter so they are essentially the label, we’re doing it for them. Cutting the cord has now allowed us to grow in a way we weren’t able to grow before. Every song on this album was written by a member of the band and that’s the first time we’ve been able to say that and I think it’s our best work to date!

Parlé Mag:  “All or Nothing” is a bonafide classic.  Lets go back to that song for a second.  How did “All or Nothing” actually come about? Who came up with the concept? And, please describe for me the overall studio vibe on that fateful day?
Trevor:  “All or Nothing” was a song that Clive [Davis] pitched to us the same day he pitched us “Liquid Dreams.”  Right away when we all heard it we knew that it could be something special. It was written by Steve MAC and Wayne Hector and we recorded it in London on November 16 2000, I know this because it was my 21st birthday. So getting to record the biggest song of our career on my 21st Birthday was pretty cool!

Parlé Mag:  O-TOWN is currently wrapping up the Pop 2000 Tour.  How have you enjoyed that experience thus far?  Any favorite or most memorable road experiences just yet? Trevor:  The Pop 2000 tour has been so much fun reuniting the whole pop era and just having the ultimate ladies night show. It’s always a great moment when we get to do “Bye Bye Bye” with Lance! The crowd really loves it and it really kicks in that nostalgic feeling to overdrive. One of the funny things that just happened actually in our last show in the middle of our 2nd song “Chasin After You,” Ryan Cabrera came out on stage as a Lance Bass cutout and started doing choreography with us ?.  It was a pretty funny moment and none of us stopped we just acknowledged he was there and kept dancing. Those little pranks make it fun and Ryan better watch out we’re gonna have to get him back someday!! (Laughs)

Parlé Mag: Lastly, what’s next for O-Town?
Jacob: We just finished one of our busiest tour seasons ever so now that the album is released we’ll be taking the momentum and going back on the road again next year! This is our 5th year touring together after the reunion in 2013 so our show has never been better and we can’t wait to incorporate the rest of the new music!

Parlé Mag:  Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Dan:  We believe this is our best work to date. Please check it out and tell us if you agree or not at our socials @otownofficial

O-TOWN’s The O.T.W.N Album was released on August 2, 2019.

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Todd Davis

Veteran music journalist and indie publicist Todd Davis, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has contributed to a variety of national, regional, online, weekly and daily media outlets; including The Source, XXL & Billboard, to name a few, is happy to report that he has recently joined the Parlé Magazine family. Looking forward to many great things to come...

Todd Davis has 106 posts and counting. See all posts by Todd Davis

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