All-4-One Returns to R&B With No Regrets


All-4-One dominated the R&B scene in the mid-1990s, experiencing tremendous success in parallel to Boyz II Men. The group's self-titled debut album went multiplatinum, scoring a Grammy Award winning #1 hit, "I Swear" which dominated the charts for an extended period. The album also featured another classic cover, "So Much In Love."

Despite the group's early success, their career has been filled with ups and downs, most notably a seven year hiatus in the US market. After releasing A41 in 2002, All-4-One went quiet in the United States, shifting their attention to the Asian market where they released an album in 2004 titled Split Personality, and continued to tour extensively.

This September, All-4-One will be reviving their R&B activities in the United States with a new album titled No Regrets. The album marks a return to urban R&B and has already released one single, titled "My Child." All-4-One recently joined me here at R&B Haven to talk about the new album and their career to date.

For more information on the album, visit All-4-One at All-4-One's Official Site.

Interview with All-4-One

R&B Guru: I understand you guys now are coming back in September with a new album, No Regrets, and it's been seven years since your last album, A41, at least in the US. So why are you returning now? What got this project started?

Jamie Jones: This is Jamie. You know what got us started was just the trend in music changing, and going more musical again. Music is a very large circle where what's old is new and what's new is old and at one point, R&B really became just singing on top of rap tracks. Not that we couldn't do that, but that's not where we're most comfortable at. We love singing melodies and bridges and harmonies cause that's what we've always done.

And it was just right. Music has seen a really nice turn and even the more popular stuff even though it sounds electronic, it's still real melodies again on top of the more electronic type sound. It was just time.

R&B Guru: Now going on that note, when you listen to your lead single "My Child" it sounds like you guys are coming out with a more mature sound, it's got a little more urban twist to it. Did you guys actively shift your direction a little more? Was this a recognized decision?

Delious Kennedy: This is Delious speaking. I don't know if we purposely thought to shift it that way. I mean the record is pretty much three parts and it's a wide variety between R&B, our normal classic All 4 One, and then contemporary R&B. I think this song just happened to be one of the songs that we wrote that actually touched a nerve with everybody, which is why they went with it first.

Jamie: And also if I could add, we are older now than when we first started. We were teenagers when we first started. The subject of that song "My Child" is stuff that we haven't gone through as far as having a bad break-up and not being able to see our children, but very close friends of ours who we've grown up with and people are age now and a lot of our fans who have grown up, have and are going through that. It was just our way of trying to do something that could help people and do something with a message.

All-4-One today

R&B Guru: I listened to the song "Regret." It really threw me off, it didn't sound like typical All-4-One. I almost imagined Ne-Yo singing the song when I heard it. Is there a story behind this song?

Jamie: There's not really a story behind the song. It was just that, as Delious was saying, we wanted this record to be three parts. The old school sound and old school R&B and what not, plus to do some things that's more contemporary because the thing is, we like that stuff. And me personally, I know Ne-Yo. I've known him for a very long time and he is one of these kids that I like to say has an old soul.

You listen to Ne-Yo, it has a lot of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder influences in it. If you really pay attention to some of the melodies he's doing and what not. And that's the kind of stuff that we've been doing since we started. We've been very heavily influenced by Michael and Stevie and even the people like New Edition and Brian McKnight, Gospel and Motown. We all try and infuse a little of that into everything we do and "Regret" is just - we like some of the new contemporary R&B that is out and we wanted to do something that we like.

The song is actually a love song. And you know, when you think of the word "Regret," you normally think of something negative, because normally it's something negative that would come along with saying the word regret. But in this instance in that song, it's basically that I have no regrets. I don't regret hanging out with my friends and doing everything else, you're the best thing that ever happened to me. It's just a cool song, it's kind of along the lines of what All 4 One has always done as far as what its saying. We've always been known for love songs and stuff like that, but it was just our way of doing it in a more contemporary and cool way.

R&B Guru: Now how big of a hand did you guys have on the production side and the writing of the album? Was it almost all an All 4 One project, did you bring in a lot of outside producers?

Jamie: It's an all All 4 One project. I have a production company called the Heavyweights and so we've been doing a lot of production for lots of different artists. But writing and producing was something that I started with All 4 One and all of us have been writers from the beginning. So this record really was birthed from All 4 One and of course the Heavyweights had a good hand in doing it as well, but I'm a part of the Heavyweights so it was definitely an in-house project. That was the way we wanted it to be and our label, Peak Concord was really cool about allowing us to do that and they trusted our judgement and our sense of music. They let us be in the studio and were very supportive and then when they heard the final product, they were that much more supportive.

R&B Guru: Now I know on the album you have a cover of a song by For Real, but I actually want to talk about some older covers you guys did. Your old hits, "I Swear" and "I Can Love You Like That" were both covers of John Michael Montgomery songs. How did you get that relationship going where you ended up doing two similar songs that he did?

Tony Borowiak: When we first got signed, we did the whole album and the president of the record label, Doug Morris, said he wanted us to critique a song. It happened to be "I Swear" by John Michael Montgomery, which was written by Gary Baker and Frank Myers 30 years ago. You know I'm a country fan and I liked it, and the other guys were like "yea… that's okay."

So he says "Well, you guys are gonna redo the song and David Foster is gonna produce it for you guys." So obviously, you say yes to that. And then we actually did "I Can Love You Like That" before John Michael did.

The funny thing was, when we sang on the Grammys together with John Michael Montgomery, obviously being a labelmate, he goes "oh guys you gotta hear this new song that I did. I think it's another great song." And we're like that's great, what's it called? He says "I Can Love You Like That" and we're like oh… we already recorded that.

So we did that before he did, it was a hand in hand type of deal. And then they rushed his out first to make it look like he did it first, which is untrue.

Delious: And then we had to keep listening to interviewers like, how come ya'll keep doing country songs?