Created via the MTV/ABC television reality show “Making The Band,” O-Town, the adorable and extremely talented boy band, enjoyed success and fame back in 2000. Signed to Clive Davis’ label, J Records, the band was best known for its mega hit songs “All or Nothing” and “Liquid Dreams.” The group – composed of Trevor Penick, Dan Miller, Jacob Underwood, Erik-Michael Estrada and Ashley Parker Angel – suffered a disastrous breakup due to a complex contract, their manager Lou Pearlman’s alleged financial “Ponzi” scandal and the effects of 9/11. Their careers were cut tragically short. Ten years later, O-Town rose from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix and has reunited (minus Ashley) with a vengeance – and an incredibly powerful new single called “Skydive.” Their new album called “Lines and Circles” will be released on August 24. O-Town has reemerged strong and powerful, with a New York appearance happening on November 4 at Irving Plaza. I was fortunate to have had an enlightening and amusing conversation with Trevor, Erik-MICHAEL and Jacob.
“Skydive,” your new hit single, is an unusually powerful and emotional song. You can feel the drama as you’re listening to it. The concept of the song is unique. What is the actual meaning of it?
Erik-Michael: Yeah, “Skydive” is about a leap of faith, and we said that from the beginning. Attempting to do O-Town again, 10 years later, took a commitment and a leap of faith from us four, because there was no guarantee that anything was going to work. So we took that leap, and “Skydive” just seemed to be the right song, what we were going through career wise and with what we were attempting to do. It creates a metaphor for our fans, and for those who really didn’t follow us at all, they could feel safe, taking the leap with us too, cause it’s worth taking a risk together. Essentially that’s what the song really talks about.
For the record, has any one of you jumped out of a plane?
Jacob: Ah, Trevor has. I wanna do it, I’m just a wuss!
Has this song gone EDM yet?
Erik-Michael: We wanna maybe do a “Skydive” with an O-Town-like promotion with the fans, but we’re still in the beginning stages of trying to figure that out.
So are you guys on tour?
Jacob: Well, actually, like on and off.
Do you have any intentions of passing through New York?
Jacob: Oh yeah, definitely!
Trevor: We’re not on like a big 40-city tour, just because like Dan in our band is married and he has children. So we made a vow to each other that we wouldn’t do like the whole 50 days in a row on the road away from our families. We’re doing it in little spurts: two, three weeks at a time. In the beginning of November we’re gonna be all through the northeast. We’re doing New York, Philly, Boston. We’re gonna be out there for two weeks at Irving Plaza and a lot of really awesome venues.
Have you guys stayed in touch with one another through the years?
Erik-Michael: Yes, yes! We have stayed in touch over the years. We remained friends. We did have an ugly breakup. We really remained as tight as we could. Right after the band, we scattered and moved everywhere: Jacob moved to Nashville, I stayed in Orlando, Trevor moved back to California. Eventually all of us wound up migrating back to California, and it was then that we decided this could be a prime opportunity for us to kind of put a project together.
“Skydive” seems to be getting great reviews.
Jacob: Our new single is the first like uptempo song that can actually be played in a nightclub or bar and have people dancing to it. It’s not just looked at as an adult contemporary ballad, it’s a song for pop radio, and can be played in a club.
How is it different this time around than the first time?
Trevor: I think one of the biggest differences we have, we always talk about the social media aspect. Just having the Twitter, the Instagram, the Facebook and all that – it’s very different. But it also is awesome because it gives the fans a chance to get into our lives, like they did before because we had the TV show, and we were very accessible media wise. I think [that] is the biggest difference. Erik, you wanna touch on the music?
Erik-Michael: Yeah, yeah. The music is different, the players are different. I guess that’s the biggest thing. When we first started – if there was a lack of welcoming from the industry, it was because of the television show, and everyone automatically thinks that we’re manufactured at that point. And the biggest difference this time around is that there isn’t any major player. There’s no Lou Pearlman. There’s no Clive Davis. There’s no MTV. There’s no ABC. We had the biggest entities in the music business behind our last project, and this time it’s really just us. We put in our announcement video when we started the project, and everything we said in that announcement was incredibly sincere. This time around it’s only us. We’ve embraced it. We have 70% of the album that we’ve co-written, and Dan did all the design work for the album, so all of the concepts are coming from us. So everything that you see coming out of “Lines and Circles,” our new album, has all been touched by O-Town. This is the first real O-Town product that people are going to get a taste of.
Any brand new groupies?
Erik-Michael: Not yet, still the old ones. They’re 25 now, 26, so that’s cool.
Erik, if you could trade places with anyone, alive or dead, famous or not famous, for a week, who would you choose?
Erik-Michael: If I could change my life for a week…
Trevor: Derek Jeter.
Erik-Michael: I would be Derek Jeter right now. That’s a good one, Trevor, I love you for that. I was gonna be Michael Jordan in ‘96, but Derek Jeter retiring, going on his last hurrah, I think that would be awesome. I’m from New York. Of course, Derek Jeter, absolutely!
If you were a superhero, what kind of powers would you want?
Jacob: Dan would be Invisible Man.
Trevor, if you were a porn star, what would your name be?
Trevor: Trevor Penick! You know that game you play on the street, when you pick your pet’s name and the street you grew up on – whatever? My name would be…my porn name would be Lee Centers.
If Hollywood were to make a movie out of you, who would you want to play you?
Erik-Michael: Trevor would be Will Smith.
Jacob: I’ve been told like seriously since I’ve been in seventh grade that I look like a Wahlberg so I’ll say Mark Wahlberg, but I’m sure James Franco can play me.
Erik-Michael: I think I’d have Antonio Banderas play me. Why not? He’s a strapping Latin man. And Dan, you could put Ryan Gosling for Dan.
Jacob: No Dan, you can put David Schwimmer.
As a band, what’s your strongest quality?
Jacob: Our uniqueness. Most bands grow up together in high school or college, they hang out, but if you see us, we definitely don’t look like we hang out. We’re very… we’re four different guys.
Erik, what’s Trevor’s worst quality or trait.
Erik-Michael: Trevor’s worst quality? I don’t know about his worst quality, but his most embarrassing quality is constantly bringing up old things like old mistakes that you’ve made that you’ve totally forgot about – like 14 years ago. “Remember when you totally missed that dance step, 14 years ago?” He definitely pulls that every once in a while.
Jacob, what’s Dan’s worst quality?
Jacob: His pessimism. Dan’s the guy you’re always talking to, “Yeah – it’s gonna be OK man,” “Trust me, it’s gonna be fine.”
Anyone can answer this one. What’s Erik’s worst quality?
Trevor: Wait, wait! I don’t get a turn?
Trevor, go for it. Go ahead and answer both Erik’s and Jacob’s worst trait.
Trevor: Yeah – leave me out. OK, this is Trevor on Jacob. Call it whatever you want, but one of his bad qualities is also a good quality, and it’s his stubbornness. I think Erik’s worst quality is his “introvertism,” his ability to block out everything that is going on around him and focus on just whatever he’s doing.
Erik-Michael: It’s a good and bad trait, because I tend to block out people when I probably shouldn’t block out people. But it’s something that allows me to focus too – you know, just like Jacob, it’s our strength and our weakness.
Where do you hope to be in another 10 years?
Erik-Michael: Hopefully still making awesome music and touring around. Making money doing what we love.
“Lines and Circles” will be released August 24. The guys tell us the next single will be “Chasing After You,” which is the album’s first track. Start requesting it on your favorite radio stations today! And don’t miss O-Town’s New York City appearance on November 4 at Irving Plaza. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster and the O-Town website.