The R&B group Day 26 started under rather inorganic circumstances. Hip-hop impresario P. Diddy put the group together at the end of Making the Band 4, the MTV reality show about musicians trying to get into what’s left of the music business. Released last year, the group’s self-titled debut yielded the single “Got Me Going” and put the band up against Danity Kane, another Making the Band alum. In advance of their new album, Forever and a Day, which comes out next Tuesday, the band (Brian Andrews, Michael McCluney, Qwanell “Que” Mosley, Robert Curry and Willie Taylor) called to talk about the trials and tribulations of making a sophomore album and having the entire world watching while they worked out their differences. —Jeff Niesel
Your new album is called Forever and a Day. Is that because it felt like “forever and a day” before it was finished?
Taylor: We did the album pretty quickly. The title is about how we live every day like it’s our last day. We live every day like it’s forever and a day.
What did you try to do differently this time around?
Taylor: Well, we tried to go to the club. The first album was hand-given to us by Diddy. We were pleased with the sales and the fans. We wanted to capitalize on that. We want to show them that we got it. We wanted to make you sing along with the slow songs. We wanted to give you a bit of everything to make you really fall in love with the brand of Day 26.
The album stylistically jumps around but still sounds cohesive.
Taylor: We went more hip-hop at the beginning of the album with the T-Pain track and “Imma Gonna Put it On Her.” We get slow during the middle with “Perfectly Blind.” It’s just a variation of things. We co-produced some of the album. We’re giving people a lot of flavors. We want everyone to feel Day 26 and see the direction we’ll be going for album number three.
You have guest producers like Timbaland and Jermain Dupri on the disc. Who was your favorite producer to work with?
Andrews: It’s kinda hard because every producer we worked with said they couldn’t believe we sounded so good. These are producers who worked with Jodeci and Boyz II Men. They’re like, “You guys are the best group we’ve ever worked with.” We also had fun with these guys. We can’t just pick one as our favorite.
And no one gave you any trouble?
Andrews: No, not at all. They surprisingly showed us mad respect. They were like, “You guys are the truth.”
P. Diddy is still the executive producer, right?
Andrews: He handpicked everything on record one. He approved every single note and everything. With this album, he put the ball in our court. He wanted to see what we would do. It was a good thing for us because he didn’t really know what he had. He had to find out if we could sing. This time he found out who we really are. He had us come to his crib in L.A. and he listened to the album. I have never seen this man stand up dance and smile. From that day on, we became great friends. He said, “We’re gonna make a whole lotta money together.”
Your single is “Imma Put It on Her.” Is that the same as saying “Imma Put It in Her”?
Taylor: It’s basically the same thing. We got that track from a producer named Blaze out of Chicago. The minute we heard it, we were like, “Yo. This is it.” We came back to the producer and the song came together. There you have it.
What was it like having your life exposed so thoroughly on Making the Band? Any regrets?
Mosley: I don’t have any regrets. I learned from it and laugh at myself. If you’ve seen this season, it looks like I’m going crazy because of the MTV editing. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I know that in this business you can’t be emotional. If you let your emotions take over, you’ll be broke because nobody cares really. I’ve listened to my group members. Our relationship has gotten so much stronger. It’s good that you argue within a group. That happens in normal relationships. I swear we love each other to death. I can honestly say that they love me.
Andrews: Oh, Que, I love, you, too, man.
You coming back for another season?
Mosley: I don’t know. Everybody wants us to come back.
Do you feel any sort of rivalry with Danity Kane?
Andrews: Honestly, Danity Kane, they were our sisters. That was a serious situation that they went through. That was their careers. Even though you’ve seen it on television and don’t believe it, that was real. I don’t think there was any rivalry. I think the focus is just more on Day 26.
I keep hearing that hip-hop is dead. What do you think?
Mosley: Hip-hop is not dead. It depends on what you think it is. I think it’s evolving.
Andrews: Hip-hop is different from what everybody is accustomed to. I respect that everybody is out there doing their thing and grinding. Hip-hop isn’t just a New York thing. Southern hip-hop is different from Northern hip-hop. There’s a lot of rappers out of Houston like Mike Jones and Slim Thug. I’m jamming their music in my iPod right now. That’s hip-hop to me. Hip-hop isn’t dead just transitioning into something different. I love Soulja Boy. He’s got the hit record that makes people grind in the club. I love that shit. That to me is dope. Real hip-hop heads might not think that. I respect that.
What do you remember most about playing Cleveland?
Andrews: We’ve played there twice. Every time we come it’s crazy. When Day 26 is in town, Cleveland turns upside down. I love it. We saw it was snowing there a couple of days ago. I was like, “Why is it snowing in Cleveland in the middle of the Spring?” Somebody tell Cleveland they are behind our seasons!