98 Degrees: 'We're Definitely Thinking Long-Term'

42 West


Looks like you better get used to the 98 Degrees "Package" because these guys plan to stick around for a long time.

Justin Jeffre of 98 Degrees said the group is here to stay, during an interview from rehearsals for "The Package Tour" with 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men.

"We're definitely thinking long-term," he said. "We never intended to actual break up. I think we've all had plenty of time to step away and do other things. I think it's definitely something we want to continue with."

In the summer of 2012, Jeffre, Nick and Drew Lachey and Jeff Timmons -- the founding members of 98 Degrees -- reunited for the first time since 2002. Although some fans may had given up on a reunion by that time, Jeffre said getting back together was always in the cards.

"It was something that we always said we wanted to do again. We made it a point to say, 'We're not breaking up.' We lived on the road for five years and we were all kind of burned out," said Jeffre of 98 Degrees, which formed in Ohio and released its self-titled debut album in 1997. "Everybody felt like they needed to have some space to just kind of find their own thing outside of 98 Degrees. And then life caught up with us -- and it took us a lot longer to get back together than we expected. I think we always had it in the back of our minds. And in the last couple of years, we were trying to bring it back together. It's just been tough. People have family stuff, different work stuff."

In other words, there are a lot more kids around. Drew has two children, and Nick recently welcomed his first. Timmons is also a father.

But the members of 98 Degrees finally got the timing worked out -- setting aside enough time to do it right. And now that they're back, things are going great and everyone is excited for the summer tour, Jeffre said. "It's actually more than one stage. It's a little different than anything we've ever done, but we're excited about it. We've designed a great show, and we're just really having fun."

"This is what we always dreamed of doing," Jeffre said, adding, "I think this time around we're having even more fun. We have perspective. And the last time -- sometimes you were thinking too far ahead and you didn't take the time enjoy the moment -- just to soak it all in."

Teaming up with NKOTB and Boyz II Men felt natural, as many of the guys had knew one another already.

"We had done shows with Jordan Knight in the past," said Jeffre. "Drew toured with Joey McIntyre on the Dancing with the Stars tour...We had met Boyz II Men before because we were on the same label. We idolized Boyz II Men. We really modeled ourselves after them. So it's so exciting to be on a tour with them."

To tie in with the tour, 98 Degrees just released the new album, 2.0, featuring songs written by Bruno Mars and Ne-Yo, as well as from 98 Degrees members themselves.

"This album was a little bit different than the albums in the past. We made a conscious decision to write the songs," said Jeffre. "We wanted to come back and be relevant in the pop music world. We wanted to work with some people who were new and up and coming. And some ones we worked with in the past...We didn't want to get too far away from what we're known for -- the 98 Degrees harmonies. We also wanted to make sure that we had some new flavor in there -- and that we stretched and grew as artists."

The "Package Tour," which kicks off Tuesday in Uncasville, Conn., stretches into early August. After that, 98 Degrees hopes to hit the road on another tour.

"The world is our oyster, and we're just happy to be able to be back and that our fans our still there," said Jeffre. "If you have a job like this it's like why wouldn't you come back and do it again and again."