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Boyz II Men Q&A: Nathan Morris gears up for a post-Mets-game gig

Photograph: courtesy of the artist
Boyz II Men (Nathan Morris, left)

Who can say they've never fallen to their knees howling out Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" at karaoke? We're guessing relatively few of you. So you'll be as delighted as we are to hear that the mega-selling ‘90s R&B survivors are taking the baseball field after the Mets-Cubs game this Saturday, August 16. The best boyfriends in pop history—recently spotted singing Tweets in a Wendy's commercial—will renew their promise to make love to you, proving that after 20-plus years together there's still more bended-knee wooing in store. (The Philly group's 12th album, Collide, comes out in the fall.) Baritone Nathan Morris talked to Time Out New York about baseball and the importance of a good love song in today's mean ol' world.

Are you a baseball fan?
Yeah, I am, unfortunately.

Phillies?
You guessed it.

So I guess you don't have too much of a horse in this race…
I have a horse in the race, but he ain't winning.

Are you rooting for the Mets or the Cubs in this game?
I have to root for the Mets, I'm not a Chicago anything fan.

How are the Phillies doing this season?
They need Jesus, and he's not around right now.

Hopefully things will pick up.
Yeah, maybe he'll be in the draft next year.

[Laughs] I feel like a lot of people don't really associate Boyz II Men with being really funny, and that's part of the great surprise with your recent Wendy's commercial.
I mean, for years people have just heard us sing, you know what I'm saying? We tried for a long time to kind of fight through that, but whether it was a TV show or late-night show, no one gave us a lot of couch time to talk. All they really wanted us to do was sing songs.

But with the Wendy's commercial you kind of get around that, because you're still singing, but…
Yeah, we get to be who we are and have some fun.

Your new singles like "Diamond Eyes" sound poppier than a lot of classic Boyz II Men.
Yeah, this album is one where we just said we finally wanted to make songs we liked. Not that we didn't like the other songs that we've done throughout our career, but a lot of time when you're a part of a record label and a big group you can't always do exactly what you want to; you kind of have to force yourself to do some of the things that other people want you to do. We've been told that we are an R&B group, but we've never felt that way. We've always felt that we can sing anything.

I guess you're at the stage of your careers where you can do what you want.
This is called, excuse my French, the "F-you" time. If you sell records, great; if you don't, you don't. But you get to enjoy your life, and the creativity that you as a musician have been put on the earth to do.

You've got a residency in Vegas, how much time a year do you spend there?
Last year I think we did 30 weekends. We fly in on Thursday or Friday and we fly out on Sunday or Monday. Even before that, we were doing a lot of shows, but we'd be around the world. One day we'd be in L.A., the next day we'd be in Cleveland, and then from South Africa to Australia and back to Europe. This kind of gives us a better grip on what our life can be from day to day, so we get a regular schedule like normal people.

That must be really nice for your families and kids.
Yeah, I've got an 18-year-old now, so he knows Dad's going to be gone on the weekend and he's going to be here during the week.

I'm sure you keep up with music on the charts, but also with a son that age, pop music must be in your household all the time. What do you think of the state of the love song at the moment?
I don't even know if they exist anymore. One of the reasons that a lot of kids don't believe in love today is because they don't hear about it, they don't understand it. It's like Mr. Snuffleupagus—you never really see him, or every now and then he'll pop up and then he'll disappear from Sesame Street. I mean, we don't get a lot of love in a lot of people's households today. You got a lot of single-parent homes, a lot of people just dating, and kids don't get a chance to see what real love is, let alone hear it.

It's a musical tradition stretching back decades, so hopefully it can't be gone for good, and we'll have some classic love songs back.
I hope so—I try to tell my son everyday. It sucks because I think we live in a society where unfortunately the next generation doesn't really care about the generation before. These kids are like, "Whatever happens today is all that matters." So if they bring that along with them in the future, the next generation won't even know [love songs] existed.

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