The Dukes of R&B for 20 Years
With millennials suddenly embracing the nostalgia of their childhood, many former pop-culture figures are profiting from this newfound popularity for all things ‘90s. All-4-One is no exception. Their 1995 number-one hit “I Swear” was named one of the greatest love songs of the 20th century by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. With sales exceeding 22 million records worldwide, constantly touring and releasing new music, the GRAMMY Award-winning band released their 20th anniversary album, Twenty+, at the perfect time. Tokyo Journal sat down with Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, Alfred Nevarez and Tony Borowiak as they revisited their roots and discussed touring Japan.
TJ: Tell me how you got started.
BOROWIAK: Alfred and I grew up together. We were in singing groups and afterwards we met Jamie at a talent show in a college we were attending.
JONES: From there, we all did some radio station jingles together. Then Tony and I — for fun, and also because we were broke — entered a karaoke contest. Delious, who we met there, was competing against us. We all tied, exchanged numbers and, as they say, the rest is history.
BOROWIAK: We didn’t win...
TJ: What would you say is the secret to your success?
NEVAREZ: I think it’s because we like each other — that makes a big difference. We weren’t a manufactured, put-together group. We were friends in high school.
JONES: We all actually like each other, and we like being on stage together. When we’re on the road we go to the movies and we have a good time, so it’s like we genuinely enjoy all that we do together whether it’s onstage or off.
TJ: How many trips have you made to Japan?
KENNEDY: Japan is like our second home.
JONES: We’ve been to Japan so many times we literally have lost count.
TJ: What do you like about Japan?
JONES: I love the people. I love that everybody is so friendly — that if you’re lost, even if they don’t speak English, people will go out of their way to try to help you. And then also, I love that ... the people there really love music. Japanese people are true lovers of music. They really are just so supportive, and that’s one of the things that we love about our Japanese fans.
TJ: Have you noticed any difference between fans in Japan and other countries?
KENNEDY: Like Jamie said, they’re lovers of music and once they’re fans, they remain fans. They don’t forget and they’re very loyal — they’re great. They’re very reserved, some of them. The first time we went there we knew that ... they loved us because they came, but they wanted to sit there and just [listen]. Then the song was over and it was like, “I think we’re bombing or something.”
JONES: And then afterwards they would come to us at the meet and greet. They were like, “That was amazing!” And we were like, “You liked it?” [Laughs.]
TJ: Your Split Personality album, was that an Asia-only release?
JONES: Yes. We wanted to do something for our Asian fans because ... I think most of the Asian countries over there are a lot like Japan — they’re very supportive and just love you forever. We wanted to do something special for all of our Asian fans who had been so good to us for so many years.
TJ: What would you say has been your proudest achievement?
JONES: When Hong Kong was changing over from British rule back to Chinese, we were one of the only American bands who were invited over to perform. We’re the third American band ever to perform in China. There’s been so many really cool things that we’ve been so blessed and fortunate to do that it’s hard to just point to one.
NEVAREZ: The GRAMMY was worth getting...
TJ: What would you like people to know about your newest album?
JONES: The new album is called Twenty+. It’s our 20th anniversary album. It’s 20 songs from 20 years; there’s a complete brand new album with 14 songs, and then we also have six of all of our greatest hits that have never been on an album together before.
TJ: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
BOROWIAK: Don’t do it [laughs]. Make sure this is what you love to do, and don’t do it for the money. JONES: If you do it for the money, you’ll be very short lived. If you do it because this is what you love to do, you’ll have way more enjoyment and fulfillment out of it. tj
The complete article can be found in Issue #278 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.