It's time -- and perhaps over-time -- for some new music from The Time. It's coming in October, but the group will no longer be using that name.
"Condensate," which drops Oct. 18 on Time Life's SRR Records imprint and is the band's first new release since "Pandemonium" in 1990, marks the debut of the Original 7ven, the new moniker for the funky septet adopted after Prince -- who established The Time in 1981 -- denied rights to the original group name. Rather than making a fight out of it, however, the group members decided to view it as an opportunity for a fresh start.
"We took it as a chance to be free and liberated...and that was sort of the approach we took to making the album," keyboardist and co-producer Jimmy Jam (nee Harris) tells Billboard.com. "We sound like ourselves because we have a sound, for sure, when we get together, but we certainly didn't have the constraints of the name, and therefore we felt we could do music that represented where we're at right now. So we just kind of embraced it rather than getting all involved in legal stuff."
Guitarist Jesse Johnson, meanwhile, says that taking on a new name also ends any confusion between The Time -- the original lineup that includes Jam and Terry Lewis, who were kicked out of the band by Prince in 1983 -- and Morris Day & the Time, which tours regularly and includes Johnson, hype man Jerome Benton, keyboardist Monte Moir and drummer Jellybean Johnson. "It got confusing for people -- there's not enough of a distinction between the two acts to make a different," Johnson explains. "I think (the change) is more of a good thing than a bad thing. We are the original guys, so people will know who we are when they hear the Original 7ven."
The group also refers to itself, slyly, as "the band formerly known as The Time," and Jam adds that "the fans can call us The Time if they'd like to. We don't have any problems with that. We don't mind that at all. We can't call ourselves that, but the fans are certainly welcome to."
Though some of the material on "Condensate" dates back to the 90s -- particularly the song "Go Home To Your Man," according to Lewis -- most of the album's 14 songs have been developed during the past three years, since the group began working in earnest on the album following its performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards ceremony. Jam says the Original 7ven wound up working on about two dozen songs and was initially ready to hack the list down to 10 for the album, but he credits Johnson with lobbying successfully for the additional tracks.
"We got down to 14 and said, 'Let's cut two more out,' " Jam recalls, "and (Johnson) just said, 'Man, the fans have been waiting 20 years for us to do a new record. Why not give 'em 14 songs. They deserve it. What's the big deal?' And we all said, 'Y'know what Jess -- you're right.' " Johnson adds that, "the thing that makes me happiest is it's a reinvention instead of the same old same old. I never wanted to be part of that. I wanted to make sure every song on ('Condensate') was something built from the ground up, now, and not something that was pulled out of the closet from years ago. I didn't want to be part of that."
Jam is confident that the remaining songs "will see the light of day" in the future. But with the album done, the Original 7ven is gearing up to get into promotion mode. A video has been shot for the first single, "#Trendin," and the group is lining up TV appearances as well as special showings for a documentary that was filmed during the making of the album, which will also be part of a deluxe package of "Condensate." The Original 7ven will perform Oct. 19 show at Club Nokia in Los Angeles and hopes to play a similar small venue date during October in New York City.
Meanwhile, Jam says, the group will "focus most of our touring towards next year. We're planning on hopefully doing a ton of festival things. There's some interesting possibilities for bills with people that are kind of intriguing -- I can't say names yet, but where we would basically co-headline or even open for somebody. For us it's pretty wide open."
Jam adds that bringing out a new album in 2011 is something of an adventure for the group. "You have to remember that when we released our last record, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or iTunes or any of those types of things," he notes. "The whole industry was totally different. All the record companies were still there. It was all defined. It's a whole different environment as far as releasing records, but we haven't changed the way we make music...We really tried to make it like an album. Those people who want to listen to something from start to finish, I think this'll really satisfy them. And then the people who want to cherry-pick song by song, that's fine, too. But we really tried to make an album that would hold together and was sequenced and would move the way we wanted it to, and hopefully people will enjoy that."
The full track list for "Condensate" includes:
7ven Intro (skit)
O7ven Press Conference (skit)
If I Was Yo Man
Toast To The Party Girl