Comprising Bryan Chan, Ikaika Kahoano, Mike Miller and Jonas Persch, Purple Leopard/Atlantic recording group LMNT (pronounced Element) have just released their major-label debut album, All Sides and are finally ready to take the big time by the scruff of the neck. But then again, two-thirds of this new group are no strangers to the musical limelight and all the trials and tribulations that can come with it. Chan, Miller and Ikaika Kahoano first became friends as part of ABC's hit series, ‘Making The Band’ where 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.
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. In early September 2001 the guys enlisted 18-year-old Jonas Persch to join the group and LMNT was officially launched.
Recorded at studios in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, All Sides also features LMNT's smash hit single, ’Juliet’ which 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 *NSYNC.
Sitting down with all four of the guys in their dressing room, Mike proudly wearing a ‘wicker-style’ hat given to him by his so-called ‘stalker fan’ Sarah that very morning outside the hotel room, I first wondered why they eventually opted for the band name LMNT ? Mike ”We just don’t like vowels,” he answers smiling. ”We are against vowels ! No, we had an on-line contest with www.teenpeople.com and a bunch of the fans choose Element as one of the options for the name and we took it and read the definition. The definition was the four substances that make up the Earth and we thought that was cool as there was four of us. So we thought why not drop the ‘e’s and make it four letters as well so it became LMNT. Which makes it kinda hard because people are now like ‘so are you guys LINT, LAMINATE … ?’ But once they get it they think it’s a good name.”
Why name the album All Sides ? Jonas ”If you look at us we kinda got all sides of ethnic backgrounds. It’s all kinds of music and it comes every genre of music you can think of. It’s got a taste of everything in there. We spent a lot of time recording the record because we wanted it to be really product of what we wanted and we spent a long time on it.”
Where does the name Ikaika originate ? Ikaika ”It’s kind of like all those Native-American names like ‘Dances with Wolves’ and all those. It actually means ‘Strong as the Sea.’”
Why did you leave the ‘Making of the Band’ group at such an early stage ? Ikaika ”Well, there were a lot of reasons but the main reason was like I didn’t even want to do that in the first place ! But there were kinda lot of things trying to push me into doing that and finally after I had made the group I just decided that looking at the band that I didn’t want to be with them.”
How long after you had lost the semi-finals did this talk of a group with Ikaika take place ? Mike ”March 24th, 2000 ! That was the first day that the idea came into our heads and we actually had an investor involved at the time. So, we just said let’s go for it and so we called Ikaika and after a while we had a four man group. We actually had an old member, but Jonas came in about a year ago.”
Somebody reveal a secret about another undisclosed member of the band Bryan ”One person in the group just became an uncle and he’s the only uncle in the group.”
If one of you had to dress as a women, who would look the best in high heels and a skirt ? Jonas ”I think Mike probably would look the best out of all of us because he’s got the biggest butt in the world,” he and they all laugh. ”And that’s pretty much what guys look at.”
What’s the most important thing that you’d like the fans to know about the band ? Mike ”One of the most important things that LMNT would like the fans to know – if they don’t all ready – is that we’re just ordinary guys. We’re all really approachable. Riding in limos, doing interviews and all that kinda thing is all gonna still remain very new to us. Basically we’re just mama’s boys, hometown boys and the people should know that we’re not gonna change.”
Ikaika ”Also, talking about the album, our first single is really poppy, but the rest of the album isn’t even like our first single at all. There’s maybe one other song that is - ‘Girl Crazy’ - but there’s something on there that everyone can like and everyone can appreciate.”
How do you escape the 'boy band' tag ? Ikaika ”It’s good music and I personally don’t like the label of being called a ‘boy band’ because we’re four singers. We’re not just like four guys up there lip-synching the show or whatever. We work hard so we can put on a good singing, dancing show. We’re not like a cookie-cutter frickin’ boy band group and I for one am tired of that label and I make sure that everyday I try to displace all doubt.”
Sum up what these tracks mean to you:
‘Girl Crazy’ – Jonas ” ‘Girl Crazy’ = Jonas,” he laughs. ”That’s all there is to it. I’m nineteen, I’m very girl crazy and I’m in my prime and I just can’t help it that when I see pretty girls I just go crazy.”
‘The Best’ – Bryan ” ‘The Best’ is a power ballad. It’s one of the songs that when I first heard it the chorus just really stuck out to me and it’s a song about finding the one. Finding the one that is it and everything else just pales in comparison.”
‘Shangri La’ – Mike ” ‘Shangri-La’ is a great song beyond the fact that the beat’s great it’s just like the song ‘The Best,’ but it’s saying it in a hip-hop way. It’s a more urban way of saying it.”
‘Juliet’ – Ikaika ” ‘Juliet’ is pretty much like my high school experience which is a while ago because I’m twenty-four,” he laughs. ”I liked so many girls in high school it was ridiculous. Every day it was like a different girl and like 90% dissed me And that’s pretty much what ‘Juliet’s about.”
So, what you’re telling me is that high school for you was barren girl wise ? Ikakia ”It was weird because the society that I lived in and the culture I grew up in I won’t get all into now, but it’s like you like the chick, you know she likes you but because maybe you’re not the coolest guy in the school or whatever, she’s not gonna get with you ! I wasn’t like cool guy ‘Joe Cool,’ so that’s pretty much what it was back then for me.”
Sum up the band in four words Ikaika ”Real.”
Finally, what would you like the music public at large to know about you ? Bryan ”That we do everything from soup to nuts ourselves ! We’re involved in every aspect of this project from the smallest detail to the largest detail and I think a lot of people would be surprised that we handle things ourselves.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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