Drew Lachey is promising a merrier Christmas this time around.
Back in 1999, when Lachey and his colleagues in 98 Degrees were at their commercial peak, they released their first Christmas album, “This Christmas.” It was a huge success, selling more than a million copies and spawning the top-40 hit “This Gift.”
The songs took a serious approach to the season. Among the familiar songs were “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night” and “Ave Maria.”
But when Lachey and the other group members bring their new holiday show to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Monday, fans are going to hear a markedly more upbeat concert than they might expect from listening to “This Christmas.”
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“Some of the songs have a faster, fun take to it, as opposed to that first Christmas album that had more serious songs,” Lachey said. “At that time we weren’t interested in singing songs about Santa and Rudolph.”
At that time we weren’t interested in singing songs about Santa and Rudolph.
The difference, he said, is now the five members of the “boy band” have kids, and that’s prompted them to look at Christmas with a lot more joy and wonder.
Their new tour, which is titled simply “At Christmas,” will feature songs from the groups’ most recent album (“Let It Snow,” the second 98 Degrees Christmas album, released earlier this year, along with numbers from “This Christmas.”
But they realize their fans want to hear their hits, so they make sure those are incorporated into the show. So fans are likely to hear such 20th-century classics as “Because of You,” “The Hardest Thing” and “Just Give me One Night,” along with those songs about Santa and Rudolph.
It’s also a bit more tightly constructed than most some of their previous shows.
“When you think of your typical pop show, it’s just one song after another,” Lachey said. “This has more of a through-line.”
98 Degrees started making hits in 1997, when boy bands were an especially hot commodity in pop music. But unlike some of their contemporaries, the members of 98 Degrees came together organically, instead of being manufactured by a producer or music company. They were siblings and friends who found out that they sounded great when they harmonized together.
Honestly, we’re having more fun now than we ever did before.
The group took a break in 2003 that lasted nearly a decade.
But since 2012, the original four members — Lachey, his brother Nick, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — have been back together. They’re singing better and having a better time the second time around. But even while they’re enjoying their current work, they’re embracing their time as one of the country’s major hit makers. They’re enjoying their old music as much as the new material.
“Honestly, we’re having more fun now than we ever did before,” Lachey said. “With age comes perspective. We’re happy and proud that we’re performing together and we celebrate that period of our lives.”