Thursday, 8 December 2011

[Throwback] 112 - Boys II Gentlemen

Another interview with 112 about their release "Part 3"... Interview by Platform!

Having survived the sophomore jinx to make it to album number three, 112 are proud that they've earned their stripes the hard way--by writing and producing themselves.

By Datwon Thomas

Sean "P Diddy" Combs sure knows how to pick 'em. After that fateful night in 1995 singing for PD in front of Atlanta, Georgia's hottest club, Club 112, the lives of Mike, Q, Slim, and Daron have been changed forever. Their 1996 debut release on Bad Boy Records, 112, set the bar for the following releases: 1998's Room 112 and this year's Part III, which spawned the #1 single, "It's Over Now." Every time out, 112 has met the challenge most R&B groups fail to conquer--keeping the audience's attention. With increasing input on writing and production duties on each project, 112 is poised to make a serious run for the title of best R&B male group for all the right reasons, which doesn't include working for P Diddy.

P4M: Ya'll comfortable with the title of the album, Part III, after asking fans for a name?

Mike: Yeah, that Part III says a lot. It's not many groups that can say that they still have anticipation and energy behind their third album. People can come out with a third album but, by that time so many people are tired of them, it's ridiculous. 112 is one of those groups that can honestly say we are looking forward to the fourth album now. We been in the game five years and ain't going nowhere.

Slim: Not only going into the third album, but going into the consistency and being successful. [I can see] if we were going in on a decline and uncertain about the future, but we've been blessed to be successful all the way around. Still got passion for the music and we still love each other.

P4M: Viewing the credits, 112 has been taking control of the music. How do ya'll feel about this album as a group?

Mike: We definitely feel as though this is our breakthrough album. After the third album, people gonna say, "This is what 112 is." First album, they are trying to get into you. Second album, they trying to see whether or not you are going to maintain. Then the third one solidifies who we are. And we want to make sure you know us and get to enjoy us as artists. The feedback that we are getting for this album is phenomenal. Like how we used to look at other artists like Boys II Men and New Edition, that's what I think about this group now. I always knew the potential but now it's manifesting. "It's Over Now," is our first #1 single.

P4M: Were Puffy or Bad Boy A&R Harve Pierre big influences on this album?

Mike: Nah, not really. We went to Nashville, Tennessee for the first leg of production on this album. Just to get away from the record label. Nashville wasn't that far from Atlanta so you can drive home if needed, but we didn't want to be in Atlanta or New York because of the type of vibe we had on the second album. The second album did have a lot of organization, we did a lot of the songs on tour, then when we finally came to NY to live, there was all kind of mania going on. Puff was feeling himself at the time with his record being out, he really didn't want to compromise with nothing that we had to say. So there was a lot of back and forth going on. We not going through that again. If you don't like it, fine, but this is us.

P4M: How do ya'll deal with the confrontations with Bad Boy?

Mike: It's still going on to this day. But how we solved that problem is, basically, if you gon' shut somebody up, shut them up all the way. Don't leave a crack for them to be able to say [anything]. We didn't come to them with demo songs. We came and each one of the songs were done how we wanted. It was either you liked the song or you didn't. It just so happened that every song that we brought, they loved.

Q: Also, through the years we learned to combat Puff with statistics and facts. In the beginning he probably wasn't as confident in us cus we were new artists. So he had to be in the studio with us everyday. Just knowing that all the singles that have been released by 112 have been produced or written or produced and written by 112. From "Only You" and "Cupid" to "Love Me" and "It's Over Now," all except for "Your Letter."

P4M: On this album it seems as though there is no clear-cut lead singer, how did ya'll fight that out?

Mike: The thing that we had above every other group is that we all can sing lead. We would always do shows and prove that, but it was never solidified on records. A lot of the singles had Slim on it or Slim and Q, not really taking advantage of the whole group. Now it makes sense cus you don't want to pull all your guns out at once. It's a growth process. We constantly growing and our arsenal is getting bigger. Puff is a fan of 112 but he is a real fan of Slim's voice.

Slim: I'mma tell you this is a personal statement. I'm so glad it's like this, man, cus this is the advantage of being in an all-star group. I don't have to feel like I'm pressured. If I'm sick, then the song can't go on? That's crazy. The fans don't want to hear that. We got four lead singers and we've had that since the first album. I love it.

Q: It also gives the group more staying power. When you think about an individual artist, it's only a certain amount of time people will get tired of you. We got four solo artists, with the life expectancy of four solo artists in one group. We opened up but we ain't done. For the first time with our expanded fan base, I can say our record label is a fan of 112.

P4M: What was it like working on "Do What You Gotta Do," with R Kelly who wrote and produced the song?

Mike: Not what we expected. Number one is time. How he records his records. We're used to recording in the afternoon, like 12 noon. So when they said, "You gonna work with him at 12," I said cool. We get there at 12 noon. Later we find out it's at 12 midnight. I don't know why, maybe that's the time for his voice. For some of us it is too, but we don't function as well together as a group around that time.

Q: It took some time to get used to. From 12 midnight to 5 a.m. we managed it. He brought another dimension to us. Out of the fifteen songs we had, we did eleven. People were submitting tracks and wanted us to write to them. We were like, "No." We wanted to have the whole package ready for a new feel. That's how we got R Kelly. Tim & Bob and that's it.

P4M: On another note, which year was the best Atlanta Freak-Nik?

112: [All pop up] The early '90s!

Slim: Ahh man...'92, '93. We was young. To go from one block to the next was like four hours. You don't understand it, but it happened.

Mike: They started tripping around '94.

Daron: That's when Freak-Nik was off-da-chain.

Q: Once you get into the late '90s, you get the mayor and the police involved. At Freak-Nik you didn't really have to go to the club to feel it.

Slim: It was really outside. We shut the freeway down. Get out the car and start videotaping, walking.

P4M: Ya'll still got the videotapes?

Q: Do we?

Mike: We got this dude smoking some weed, and he passed it to the police dude and he just smoked it.

P4M: Which sorority has the gangsta girls?

Slim: Them AKAs were off the chain! You'd be in the AU center, boy, and them red, longhaired...[laughs!] They were the only ones that were really friendly toward the camera. We seen some performances all right.

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