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Issue 1084

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Boyz II Men: Love Is All You Need

Boyz II Men @bluesandsoul.com
Boyz II Men @bluesandsoul.com Boyz II Men @bluesandsoul.com Boyz II Men @bluesandsoul.com Boyz II Men @bluesandsoul.com

When you think of ballad Rn'B there is one group that always comes to mind. Now near to twenty years in the business, Boyz II Men have provided the soundtrack to so many of our intimate moments. Along the way single handling stimulating the world̢۪s population growth...

Whether it be setting the mood with a new love or simply chilling alone with a tub of Haagen-Daz, The boys from Phili have dropped some of the finest love songs to travel the airwaves. Classic’s like ‘End of the Road’ ‘I’ll make Love to You’, ‘Seasons of Loneless’ and my favourite ‘Hey Lover’ have been endlessly covered and remain as strongly appealing as the day they were released.

With beginnings in New Jack swing their shift to ballad music quickly curved a distinct blueprint for other 90’s Rn'B artists to follow. Such is the appeal, that the multi-Grammy winners have sold over 60 million albums worldwide, making them the most successful Motown signing group ever. Crazy impressive when you think of the prolific artists that have past through the legendary label. Yes much of their music is silky cheese in all its glory but you’d be a blue-faced liar not to admit enjoying at some point the guilty pleasure they orchestrate. Now after the pending release of their current project fittingly named ‘Love’ and a new album set for late 2010, I caught up with three out of four - Shawn, Nathan and Wayne for an early morning interview to chat all things Boyz II Men

Looking at your phenomenal success as the best Rn'B group ever, do you feel a lot of pressure on your new music, or is it just a case of you guys have nothing to prove?

Shawn: No, exactly this is the easy part of our careers. The part where we enjoy what we were able to accomplish. Now we just enjoy being creative artists. There was a time when we use to have to appease the audience of the time. But now 20 years and like you say 60million records later the audience is built. Anyone who comes along after that is a beautiful thing.

It must be really though to know that the only artists to sell more then you are Michael Jackson, The Beatles or Elvis.

S: Yeah (laughs) - you take what you can get.
But really its one of the crowning achievements we have in our career. When we were teenagers we didn̢۪t really understand the magnitude of what it meant but now we are older we definitely appreciate it a lot more.

You guys have known each other for a long time, from school. It̢۪s obviously a strong friendship outside of music.

S: Absolutely, you can̢۪t help it when you̢۪re been recording for so long together. We have managed to go through things that only we would understand. Not even our families have gone through half the stuff we̢۪ve gone through. So the group is not only our job, it̢۪s also something very sentimental to us.

Knowing you̢۪re so close who̢۪s the most difficult to buy a Christmas present for?

S: (Laughs) To be honest, we haven̢۪t bought Christmas or holiday gifts in a while considering that everyone has kids now. We kind of just give each other pats on the back and say happy holiday. But when we did it was fairly simple like a safe gift. Everybody likes a diamonds right.

As you̢۪ve toured exhaustingly over the years and being away from home for so long have you developed any sort of big interests outside of music?

Nathan: We all have different things. For the last 13 years I̢۪m actually a certified scuba diver. I̢۪ve dived in Hawaii, all the Caribbean and anywhere the waters warm. Other then that I̢۪ve taken up photography. Something else that̢۪s creative.

Anyone else?

S: Na, I just make children (laughs).

Well a lot of people do to your music

S: Yeah (laughs). I suppose you could call me a tester of the music. I play the music and see if it̢۪s baby making worthy. And yeah that̢۪s pretty much my job outside of Boyz II Men.

Exactly. You̢۪ve performed to thousands of people but also provide an intimate soundtrack to many couples. How does it fell to be for many the first CD to reach for when you want to get romantic?

N: It was never our intention from the beginning. We were young. We were teenagers so we were living some of the songs we were singing about as well as writing. We had no real idea of what it would actually do. We didn̢۪t realise that there was void in the music industry for music like that. So when our album came out and people started letting us know that we were basically helping them out, replenish the earth (laughs), we were actually shocked in the beginning. But we realised that love songs did something to people.

S: You always use love songs to get the spark going and you know get you in the mood. We feel blessed and honoured for people to say that we are the soundtrack to their lives. And even for some children to come to us and say that their mum told them they were conceived after one of our records is like wow. So we kinda' like your uncle

So in that respect you got a big extended family.

S: Exactly (laughs)

What̢۪s your favourite song to perform?

Wayne: It̢۪s funny 'cos our favourites are always the most popular. Although it̢۪s cool to sing the big sellers we also enjoy getting into those out-cuts too.

Being a group who are known for their voices as much as their songs, what̢۪s your thoughts on X-Factor /Pop idol and the demand for these shows right now?

N: I think any off those shows are a plus today, because the music industry has changed so much along with the route you had to go to become an artist.

I love the fact that people on those shows sing and re-record our songs. Music goes in a cycle. And it̢۪s great for many artists to use Boyz II Men as a standard when considering an Rn'B compilation.

You talk about artists covering your material but the new release ‘Love’ is your rendition of other artists’ music across different genres. Where did the idea for this record stem?

S: We were trying to figure out what to do after the Motown album - with it being a collection of songs. One of the things Boyz II Men do to a tee is express love through music. So here we̢۪ve gone back to let people know about where our inspiration comes from now. The most incredible thing about this album is that most people would think that the songs that inspired us would be black music, but in all actuality as you can see form the songs on the album, Boyz II Men have a very eclectic inspirational category of music.

The selection of songs have all the same premise. Love.

N: It wasn̢۪t easy to choose songs, because there are so many that give you that vibration. But hopefully we got it right.

You̢۪ve also done some great collaborations over the years. Is there anyone in the UK you̢۪d like to record with?

S: It̢۪s funny because, we managed to come to the UK so many times and each time the height of an artist has changed. Like artists we listened to a few years ago are no longer s popular now. So I guess you can say we are still getting acquainted with the sound and culture over here.

N: As long as the collaboration has that spark and is interesting that contributes to good music we don’t care who it is. It could be that lady, what’s her name – Susan Boyle.

‘Love’ is a warm up of-course to the new album coming out in 2011, which will hopefully see the return of Michael to the group, right?

S: Yeah the Twentieth Anniversary of Boyz II Men will be out around that time. We are gonna go straight on the work on that after the promotion of 'Love'.

We are still hoping that it̢۪s a possibility with Michael. We are just working out particulars like what he can contribute. We had talked with him extensively about that so fingers crossed.

Nevertheless it̢۪s gonna be a great record. It won̢۪t just be a remake but also contain brand new Boyz to men music too.

Boyz II Men 'Love' album is out now.
Words ALI RAYMOND

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