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98* Degrees & Rising

Superstars Superstars Superstars Superstars 98 - A Matter of Degrees from HIT SENSATIONS Magazine -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Just a few years ago, members of the Ohio-based balladeers, 98 had graduated from performing arts school only to work as security guards in trendy clubs, deliver Chinese food or wash dishes. Now the quartet has just released their sophomore effort on Motown Records and at press time, their newest single "Because of You" rests gingerly on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart at No. 3. Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, who make up the fresh-faced rhythm and blues quartet, insist that they just set their minds to make their mark and the rest is history. "We just started touring the country in a Winnebago with our picture on the side, using it like a promotional tool. But the real indicator (of our popularity) was after we appeared on Much Music, which is like Canadian MTV, and girls go inside our mobile van and hid underneath our bed covers," said Jeff laughing. Sound surprising? Well, judging from the grand fanfare that results anytime 98 are in town, it shouldn't. "When we go to Germany there will be like four to five hundred girls waiting at the airport," said the group's manager, Paris D'Jon. "And we can't even enter Canada without notifying the police and telling them we're coming because it's total madness." Still, these four youthful twenty-something's say they don't have steady girlfriends. "It's hard for us to have relationships because we can't give people the kind of time that they want," Justin reflects. "And it's also difficult because we get lonely and want to have something that sort of feels stable and comfortable." Though it is not hard to imagine these handsome guys occupied every second off everyday between photo sessions and interviews promoting their newest release "98 and Rising". Starting with the single "Because of You," the group spoke about their efforts on the new CD, which transcend the expected harmony-driven aspects of most vocal groups by incorporating a hip-hop, dance and op sound into the mix. Including their collaboration with legend of pop and R & B artist Stevie Wonder and their contribution to the soundtrack of the Disney film Mulan, 98 have taken their success to the next level. "Stevie Wonder, in all honesty, was one of the people we really wanted to work with and when it happened we were like 'wow!'" Nick said. "We would also like to work with Boyz II Men because they were a huge inspiration for us when we were coming up." "There are many good songs on the CD and I hope that there will be plenty of singles. The song 'Still' is one of my favorites along with the Michael Jackson cover song 'She's Out of my Life,'" Jeff said. That classic Jackson ballad was actually taken from the demo tape that earned 98 a recording contract with Motown Records. "It's an a capella version, arranged differently but remaining true to the integrity of the composition," Jeff continued. Not surprisingly, they state collectively that they believe Michael Jackson himself would like the track, that for them, send shivers down their spine whenever they hear it. The band, who actually got their first big break while backstage attempting to sneak into a Boyz II Men Concert, met their manager Paris D'Jon, with whom 98 first gained exposure during a live radio broadcast. Not long after, the band was signed and experienced success with their first single "Invisible Man" The obvious next step for the group is heading the concert circuit. Are they ready? You bet! "We've had some adversity over the last two years, but through it all we've learned a lot," Nick said. "We're really proud of the things we've accomplished. Now with our second CD we're in a great position to make an impact."