98 Degrees’ Timmons returns to Kent, performs

Seth Roy

Former Kent State student Jeff Timmons brings his post-98 Degrees music career to Screwy Louie’s tonight. COURTESY OF Z INTERNATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

It’s about to get really hot tonight at Screwy Louie’s.

98 Degrees member Jeff Timmons is performing solo at 7 p.m. tonight at the venue.

Some may think a venue like Screwy Louie’s would be too small and unfamiliar to a member of a multiplatinum group, but that isn’t so for Timmons.

Actually, Timmons is an old haunt of the venue – back in 1994, said the former Kent State student.

For a semester and a half, Timmons, originally from Massillon, majored in psychology at Kent State. He dropped out after one-and-a-half semesters to pursue a singing career.

Timmons said he moved to California with a group of friends he met in Kent and tried to make it into the music business. Eventually, after some shuffling around, he formed 98 Degrees with Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre, all from Cincinnati.

“A lot of people thought we were put together,” Timmons said of the stigma attached to boy bands. “We weren’t.”

He said the group formed themselves, and actually wrote or helped write many of the songs. But Timmons said he didn’t mind people attaching the “boy band” label to the group early on.

“We automatically had a fan base,” he said.

But now 98 Degrees is on a break, and has been for a while. A number of factors has contributed to the break: Nick Lachey’s marriage to Jessica Simpson, “The Newlyweds,” Drew Lachey’s stint on “Dancing with the Stars,” and the fact that members just wanted to take some time off.

“That’s kind of taken the whole group thing and put it on the back burner,” Timmons said. “We were on the road for so long. When I got off the road, I spent a couple years with my family.”

He also spent some time writing and recording for a number of other projects, including his forthcoming album, Whisper That Way, which is due out this summer.

Timmons described the album as being pop, R&B, soul and hip-hop.

“We’re gonna have some surprise guests,” he said. However, the guests really are top secret.

Over the past month, VH-1 has been following Timmons around, filming for a show that will premiere sometime later this year, he said.

“It’s not necessarily like a reality show,” he said. The show will shadow him as he goes through the writing and recording process, and releases a record on his own. “(It’s) a different take on a ‘boy band’ guy.”

Timmons said he likes the freedom writing and releasing an album on his own gives him. Writing by himself gives him more creative control over his music.

“There’s a difference between ‘contributing’ and ‘creating,'” he said about writing with a group. “It’s like a democratic judgment on art.”

Jeff Timmons

Where? Screwy Louie’s

When? 7 p.m. tonight

How much? $10-13

For more information: www.jefftimmons.com

Timmons co-wrote Whisper That Way with a friend, and he plays all of the instruments on the album.

Tonight, a track will be playing in the background that Timmons will sing over, which he compared to a glorified karaoke. But the small, intimate venue allows for a lot of personal interaction with the crowd. It’s this interaction that makes him look forward to performing in small venues.

In his time with 98 Degrees, Timmons has gone from performing at cheerleading camps to performing at Dodger Stadium. Now, as a solo artist, he performs at both large and small venues.

Some of the proceeds from tonight’s concert will actually go back to Kent State. $250 will be donated to the sorority that has the best showing. Though it may seem like a ploy to get the ladies to the show, the married father of two said that’s not his goal.

“They’re too young for me,” the 32-year-old singer said with a laugh.

Really, he said, he just wants whoever is there to have a good time.

Contact ALL editor Seth Roy at [email protected].