When you look back to the history of r&b in the 90’s, groups played a huge part and the likes of 112, Jagged Edge, Jodeci, Blackstreet, Mint Condition and Bell Biv & Devoe were household names. As the genre progressed into the 21st century, a lot of the groups began to fizzle out, new groups didn’t make much of an impact, and we’re left with a void here now in 2011. Enter Hamilton Park. The group from Atlanta, recently signed to Andre Harrell’s Harrell Records, is here to pick up where their predecessors left off. Unlike a lot of their peers, they’re not concerned with making commercial music for the radio. They just want to deliver what’s already inside of them, music that will remind you of where you’ve been while touching your heart and soul. In this interview with the group, we talk about how the group got together, what got them signed to Harrell Records, the significance behind the name of the group, some of the groups influences, their first single “Computer Love”, if it will be a struggle staying true to real r&b and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How’s everything going guys?
Hamilton Park (Anthony): Everything’s going good. First before we start we just want to say thank you. We know that YouKnowIGotSoul has been following us and keeping up with us for awhile now so we just want to say thank you and we appreciate that.
YKIGS: Definitely guys and I appreciate you guys taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me. First off, take me back to when you guys originally met and what made you decide to come together as a group and do singing.
Hamilton Park (Chris Voice): Hamilton Park got together and really just bonded by being together in church and playing basketball and being around each other a lot. There’s this park called Hamilton Park where we just honed our craft and committed to each other and decided to do it.
YKIGS: I was reading in your bio that you guys played basketball together in Hamilton Park. What made you want to use the park as your name for the group?
Hamilton Park (Anthony): Hamilton Park is a place where like you said we played basketball and went through the whole development stages of the group and things like that. It was only fitting that we called it Hamilton Park because that’s really where we got the harmonies right, learned the work ethic and things like that. It was just that significant for us.
YKIGS: Talk to me about some of your influences growing up that influenced you music wise.
Hamilton Park (Royce P.): We listened to groups like Jagged Edge, 112, Jodeci. A lot of nice soulful r&b music.
YKIGS: R&B groups were more prominent back in the 90’s than they are now it seems. We see some groups but a lot of them don’t make it big these days. How do you guys plan to make yourselves stand out and be successful there?
Hamilton Park (Mr. Marcus Lee): I want to first state the obvious which is we have four lead singers and we can all go strong individually. So when you bring that together and you blend it, you blend it and don’t just sing it, it takes it to whole nother place. Also the fact that we’re all just genuine people and athletes, it just transcends over to music, we have that work habit so it takes that to another level. So that’s kind of what separates us. We also have a brotherhood before anything and music is something that we love to do so if we get paid for this it’s cool, but we’re brothers first.
Hamilton Park (Anthony): I just want to piggyback on what Marcus is saying, the fact that in addition to each one of us being capable of singing leads, we have the ability to communicate to the heart of people. It’s one thing to communicate to the ear, but it’s another thing to communicate to the heart. We really like to pride ourselves on the fact that we can communicate to the heart of people by singing real life music.
YKIGS: Take me back again, this time to your original meeting with Andre Harrell. I read you guys had an impromptu performance which led to him signing the group. Tell me that story.
Hamilton Park (Anthony): He was in Atlanta promoting for the Radio One Superstar Soul Search. One of the on air radio personalities who was familiar with Hamilton Park posed him the question if he was familiar with the group. From that day on he was interested and he connected with our management and we participated by singing the National Anthem at the Superstar Soul Search finale. The rest is history.
YKIGS: Tell me about the single you have out “Computer Love”. How did the song come together and how has the reception been on that song?
Hamilton Park (Chris Voice): “Computer Love” is a single we’ve been working on for awhile so we shot the video for it and the feedback that we’ve been getting from it has been so great. Everyone’s taking real well to it so we decided to run with it for the single.
Hamilton Park (Mr. Marcus Lee): The “Computer Love” video we actually just shot here in Atlanta. We just feel like if you look at it, it reminds you of the New Edition video they shot in a warehouse, it kinda gives you that feel because they were also an influence on us so we felt like we had to do that for them.
YKIGS: Yea it’s cool that you guys are paying homage like that to those who came before you.
Hamilton Park: Thank you!
YKIGS: Talk to me about the album you guys are working on. In terms of writers and producers, who are you guys going to be working with in the future?
Hamilton Park (Anthony): We’re just trying to keep that really exclusive; we want to surprise some people!
YKIGS: Tell me about what type of sound we can expect to hear on the album when it does come out.
Hamilton Park (Anthony): I would say the sound is a very familiar sound. It reminds you of some real down home cooking when you go to your grandmother’s house; you got your corn bread, your collard greens, your fried chicken, and your corn on the cob with the sweet peas. It’s a very familiar place; this type of music isn’t fabricated.
YKIGS: Cool, I can respect that. When do you plan to release the album?
Hamilton Park: This year, later this year.
YKIGS: In your bio you talk about bringing “the real essence and the real r&b back to the bedroom.” I like that kind of music, I LOVE that kind of music actually. It just seems like that style of music has stepped away from the fore front of the radio. Do you guys think it will be a struggle to do this type of music in this music climate?
Hamilton Park (Royce P.): I don’t think it will be a struggle at all. Number one, we’re talking about bringing back the essence of real r&b and really real r&b is just what we do, it’s us talking from the heart.
Hamilton Park (Chris Voice): Just piggybacking on what my brother Royce said, I just feel like it’s not going to be hard to succeed with the music that we’re doing because there’s really nothing releasing for the bedroom anymore when you’re trying to get down with your significant other. We capture that passion that needs to be captured and we’re definitely bringing it. Like the conviction that you have in church when you listen to the gospel songs and you can really feel it, we’re trying to bring that across in our r&b. We’re really passionate about connecting to the heart; we’re real passionate about that.
YKIGS: I’m glad you guys are taking that approach and bringing that real music because that’s what I want to hear and I’m glad you’re coming with that.
Hamilton Park (Anthony): I just want to say thanks again for the support from YouKnowIGotSoul and your whole organization; we’re very appreciative of that.