Cloud meets silver lining...
Such is the story of Purple Leopard/Atlantic recording group LMNT and their major-label debut album, "ALL SIDES." Members Bryan Chan, Mike Miller, and Ikaika Kahoano first became friends as part of ABC's hit series, Making The Band. Ikaika was asked to be a part of the series-created band O-Town, but he opted to return home to Hawaii instead. But when semi-finalists Mike and Bryan invited him to join their own new group, Ikaika realized how much he enjoyed performing - not to mention how much fun the three guys had together - and decided to come aboard.
"As it turned out, not making it was the best thing that could have happened to us," says Mike with a laugh. "But being thrown into the heart of the business and seeing how everything worked really gave us the blueprint we needed to get started."
Inspired by a diverse range of influences - including gospel, R&B, pop, and old school hip-hop - the three twentysomethings let a common love of music, singing, and dance act as their guide. Taking their name from a Teen People-sponsored online contest, the group gathered in New York City where they took their first determined steps as a cohesive unit. Last summer the trio went from a Holiday Inn homebase to a noisy, scarcely furnished Madison Avenue apartment in the shadow of the Empire State Building. "They loved us at the hotel but neither situation was what we were looking for in terms of motivational spirit," says Mike. "And you would not have wanted to seen us in that apartment. It wasn't pretty." With little prompting, Mike, Bryan, and Ikaika then made the journey over the Hudson and set up shop in a house in idyllic Hoboken. There they fully devoted themselves to rehearsing their new music and crafting their live performance.
In early September, the guys enlisted 18-year-old Jonas Persch to join the group and LMNT was officially launched. "Jonas brought a song of his own to the audition and it was clear almost instantly that here was our fourth member," says Ikaika. "Everything fell into place as if all this was supposed to happen," adds Jonas, who within days of his successful audition had made himself at home in New Jersey with his new bandmates.
The resulting "ALL SIDES" includes sizzling and sensual tracks helmed by such top producer/composers as Soulshock (Mary J. Blige, 2 Pac, Destiny's Child), Jimmy Bralower (M2M, Backstreet Boys), Peter Zizzo (Jennifer Lopez, Plus One), Stargate (S Club 7, Cher), and John Poppo (Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ace of Base). The collection soars on the strength of such tracks as the effervescent, melodic "Girl Crazy," the reflective four-part balladry of "The Best," and the charming, flamenco-flavored "Forgot To Forget."
Recorded at studios in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, the album also features LMNT's smash hit single, "Juliet." The irrepressibly exuberant track was written and produced expressly for the group by the Stockholm, Sweden-based team of Frederick Thomander and Anders Wikstrom - known professionally as Epicentre and widely celebrated for their work with 'N SYNC. The high-energy track debuted in the Top 40 of Billboard's Top 200 Singles Sales Chart and hit #1 at Radio Disney (where it remained for eight consecutive weeks!)
Beyond their remarkable reception on the nation's airwaves, LMNT are well on their way to household name status, having already made appearances on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Entertainment Tonight, Politically Incorrect, The Queen Latifah Show, and on 2001's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade national TV broadcast. They earned new fans across the country during their participation in Macy's Music Mania Tour, Teen People's 10-city Rock N' Shop Tour and What's Next event, the Seaworld Summer Concert Series, and an appearance at Z100's Trendfest event in New York City.
As word of the release of "ALL SIDES" first started to spread, LMNT saw themselves featured in the pages of YM, Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, and Tiger Beat. Early coverage of the group also worked to place them alongside the world's boy band stalwarts. By way of heading off association-fueled assumptions at the proverbial pass, the group is inclined to make a point of order: LMNT is not a boy band.
"We're not kids, exactly," explains Bryan. "Well, except for Jonas!" Continuing on a more serious note, Mike adds, "We just think of ourselves as a vocal group, but if there's any particular group we all really tip the hat to it's Boyz II Men." "I think the thing we mostly want people to recognize," says Ikaika, "is that this is something we've built from the ground up. The only magic formula was our love of music and a lot of hard work."