Rockin' The Region

O-Town and Aaron Carter come to Friday Night Live

By Dave Hoffenberg

Head to Friday Night Live to see O-Town and Aaron Carter. O-Town is Jacob Underwood, Dan Miller, Trevor Penick and Erik-Michael Estrada. I had the pleasure of speaking with Underwood to find out what’s been happening since they were all on “Making the Band,” the fact that Simon Cowell owes his TV show success to them and that Motown wants to block their trademark. The latter is comical since they are vastly different which brought up the #OtownisnotMotown. Underwood said having this happen after 20 years is complete BS. My biggest question was if O-Town’s Erik-Michael Estrada had ever met CHIPS Erik Estrada? Underwood thinks the answer is “yes.”

They had split up in 2004 and went different directions. Underwood said even though it’s cliche, “Timing is everything. We were getting offers but none felt like the right one. It’s tough to get back together because you all start your separate lives. I was living in Nashville. It was hard to imagine getting back to LA for rehearsals and how that would look.”

In 2014, Underwood said they got a fairly good offer for a tour and maybe a single in the UK. He said, “Lo and behold that one tour that was supposed to last the summer has taken us to 2019 and two albums later.”

Their last album, they all had written every song. Underwood says, “Not usually together. We’ve only done one session where all of us write together. It’s almost better when we can get with our teams that know how to bring the best out of our music and then we can pitch them fully to each other.”

Underwood describes their show, “We run a DJ rig on the stage, keep things lean and then it’s really just about us four. We play off each other well and keep the energy up the whole time.” Their last two albums are full of dance songs so that gives them a stage show that is more energy than ballads. He adds, “Then we can sneak in “All or Nothing” and our new ballad, “Over”. Their other hit song back in the day was “Liquid Dream” which they open the show with. Underwood said, “We tried it in other places but it’s better to get that right there. It really sets up the show.”

Underwood talks about their crowd, who are early twenties to late forties, “These girls follow us around the country and we get to tell them face to face how much that means to us.” The guys are all around thirty-nine and within a year of each other. Underwood says, “There’s this magic three weeks of the year when we’re all the same age.”

O-Town was formed on “Making the Band,” which started on ABC in 2000 and then moved to MTV for the next two seasons. It was created by Lou Pearlman who is responsible for the formation of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. It was a reality talent search show looking to form the next boy band. Underwood says, “It was the first American Idol type thing which is funny because years later when we auditioned for Clive Davis, Simon Cowell was there. He was asking what the cameras were for and they had to explain the situation. Lo and behold, he comes out with American Idol.”

Underwood laughed when someone told him to audition for this. A friend sent in a tape and he got a call back. “I almost didn’t go to the audition because I wasn’t into the boy band thing. I had to sing an NSYNC song which I butchered and only remembered one line. They said sing something else so I sang “Amazing Grace”. I met Trevor at that audition in LA.”

They flew everyone to Orlando where they cut it from 25 to 8 and they moved into the house. That’s when they realized they were shooting a TV Show and the cameras following them weren’t for the news like they thought.

Underwood said it was weird forming a band with guys you didn’t know. “It was hard for a while to find our niche but we worked endless hours doing all we were supposed to do, while having a TV show following us.” He said it was fun to go back and relive those times and adds, “Now as adults, we’re having the best time of our lives. This feels much better than when we were kids. There’s only four other guys in this whole world that know exactly what is was like to do what we did. We’ll be brothers for life.”

Of all they do, the stage is Underwood’s favorite part. “It’s the best feeling seeing your music come to life.” He wrote a song, “Hello World,” which became the fundraising song for the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation and is on their latest album. Underwood says, “I was picturing what I wanted to say when I’m up on the stage, what I wanted to feel and what I wanted the audience to sing back. So much of it goes into how I wanted a stage show to feel, how I want the concert to feel. When you finally get to that point and that song is blaring through the speakers and the work is done, you can hear them singing it back and see what you’ve been envisioning, that is the greatest feeling.”

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