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"I love to see people listen to and enjoy our music," says TAKE 5’s Stevie Sculthorpe, 17. "I want everybody to like it. I burn every time I sing, and you can hear our passion and energy."

It’s safe to say that this sentiment holds true for the other four members of this young Orlando quintet -- brothers Ryan and Clay Goodell, 19 and 16; Tilky Jones, 18; and TJ Christofore, 16. For nearly two years, the group has been setting stages on fire and girls’ hearts aflutter across Europe and Asia, and now they’re ready to bring their talent, charm, youthful energy and good looks back home to the States. They’ve already been featured in several national magazines, and the anticipation for their debut album Against All Odds is building every day. If all of this sounds familiar, you can put your assumptions aside right now – TAKE 5 bring to the music world a sound, a style and an attitude that’s all their own.

TAKE 5 formed in late 1997. Ryan and Clay have been lifelong friends with TJ, whom they met when they all sang together in the Minneapolis Boys Choir. On the path to a show business career, Clay and TJ ventured to Orlando in late ‘97. While at an audition for a commercial, the pair met Florida natives Stevie and Tilky, who knew each other from working in commercials and theater. Discovering their mutual love of pop and R&B music and their common dream of making it as performers, the four decided to put their talents together. In search of a bass, Clay enlisted his older brother Ryan, who promptly joined them in Orlando. Trans Continental Records, who gave big breaks to the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, among others, saw them, signed them, and started them on their way.

Despite their ages, all five members of the group are already show business veterans with some very impressive credits. TJ has been acting and singing for virtually his entire life. He appeared in commercials as a child, he was a Star Search winner in 1995, and he starred as Gavroche in the Broadway National Company of Les Miserables. His biggest thrill, however, came in 1996, when he was invited to sing solo at the White House. "It was very cool," he says. "We were singing for visitors. Leann Rimes was there, and some choirs. They would move us around the White House so there would be music everywhere as people toured." Like TJ, Clay has been performing all his life, with appearances in commercials, movies and theatrical shows. Stevie started as a model and he’s had experience in commercials and theater. Tilky has worked in commercials and musical theater, and he was the drummer in User Friendly, a popular local ska-punk band. Ryan has sung "forever," he says, and he has appeared in commercials and professional theater. Both he and Clay are classically trained pianists.

The group recorded and released an album overseas and began a relentless touring schedule across Europe and Asia, honing their skills as performers and -- as they quickly and happily discovered -- as heartthrobs. By all accounts, the boys have a blast on tour. "Being onstage is the biggest rush," says Ryan. "After shows, I couldn’t sleep. It would take hours to calm down. I can’t wait to tour again after we finish the album." Stevie adds, "We’ve traveled and learned so much. We’ve done more in a year than a lot of people get to do in a lifetime. We’re very lucky." They all agree that the ups and downs of touring have brought them closer together as friends, and that it’s been a great cultural eye-opener. "We get along really well, like five brothers," says Ryan, "and it’s like we all have four new sets of mothers and fathers!" Clay does admit to bouts of homesickness, however. "Touring is fun," he says, "and we get to see the world, the places we’ve studied in school. But it can be hard to be away from home. I miss my sister and parents."

As for the reaction from the girls in the audience, Ryan, laughing with obvious amazement, simply says, "It’s wild."

It’s certainly no secret that groups like the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync and others occupy a lot of space pretty much everywhere these days, on radio, TV and the pop charts and in the minds of millions of teenage girls. While TAKE 5 is taking sharp aim on that same space, they are quick to point out what sets them apart from the bands that have come before. "First and foremost, it’s our ages," says Tilky. "We really want to draw on our youth and our energy. I think that fans will relate to us, because we’re practically the same age as they are." TJ concurs. "From the beginning, it’s been about being young, being hyper, having fun," he says. "We’ve been trying to keep our image and vibe on the clean side."

Musically, TAKE 5’s crisp pop "definitely has more of an R&B feel," says Tilky. "We listen to everything," adds TJ. "R&B, pop, it doesn’t matter. Good is good." Band favorites include everyone from Busta Rhymes, Dru Hill, Stevie Wonder, Maxwell and Blackstreet to The Beatles, Dave Matthews and Lenny Kravitz, plus a lot of hip hop, gospel and classical, to boot. "There’s no reason for any sort of racial barrier in music," Stevie declares. "We want white listeners, black listeners, Hispanic listeners, any age, any race. We think everyone could like us." If the résumés of the album’s producers and writers are any indication, everyone probably will. Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Shekspeare, Delite and Flavahood are just some of the stars who lent their producing talents. Writers include Diane Warren, Gerald Levert and Veit Renn. The first single, "Shake It Off," is the perfect summer party record, a danceable, upbeat track with an irresistible hook that’s sure to be a boombox favorite.

When they tour, count on it to be a spectacular. "We want people to walk away from a TAKE 5 show completely entertained," Ryan says. "We don’t just sing, we perform. We’re going to play instruments on some songs, since we all play."

Even though they’ve experienced the early glimmers of fame, they still have a firm belief in the importance of basics like education. Ryan, Clay, Tilky, TJ and Stevie all plan to get their high school or college diplomas no matter what. As Ryan succinctly put it, "There’s no option to drop out."

Naturally, TAKE 5 want to be hugely successful and join the ranks of chart-topping, million-selling, girls’-bedroom-walls-adorning superstars. But they intend to do it on their own terms. "We’ve had a lot of input in this project," explains TJ. Ryan says, "We’ve picked every song. We’ve done some writing. We’ve participated every step of the way, picking photos, designing the website, everything. We want notoriety as real artists. I hope we can break down the door, and show that it’s real. This is us doing what we want."

Stevie adds, "I hope that a lot more groups come out – it’s not a competition, there’s room for everybody. I’m just here to have a good time, and I hope it shows."

As TJ says, "We’re like brothers. We’ll make it together. Nothing could change that."

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