Billboard spoke to Day26 about their reunion shows, parting ways with Bad Boy, their growth over the last decade, and what’s to come from their new album. Check out the full interview below.
Talk to me about where you were 10 years ago vs. where you guys are now as a group on a musical level.
Rob: Well, first of all, we’re in charge of our own sh-t. When I say our own shit, I mean everything. That’s a part of the growth we’re at right now. We’ve known each other and worked with each other with this music for so long, and have built the chemistry, that everyone knows when it’s their part and where to sing. We can record most of our records, and not even be in the same room. That’s literally how familiar we’ve become with each other and our bond.
Willie: It’s definitely been a growth in this 10-year span. The first album was executive-produced by Diddy, and I feel like now we’ve grown and learned so much while out doing different ventures between acting and writing. We’re ready to bring things back to the table. Just knowing different things that will help further our careers as a collective. We’re just in a great space in a business aspect.
What inspired you guys to get together for the reunion show?
Willie: I just felt like with it being August 26th on a Saturday, I was like, “Yo, it’s been 10 years.” Of course we have our anniversary every year, but ten is just something special. Each anniversary we usually call each other to talk about it, but this one is special.
Brian: It sold out in 2.5 hours!
You have all pursued solo ventures over the years. What it’s like being apart as opposed to being a group?
Brian: It’s better.
Mike: I think the solo career thing is great because you get to express yourself as the artist that you’ve always been. You can experience that other side of everything that you’ve always wanted to do. It’s a great avenue when you get to experience that, but it’s different from being in a group, because it’s your 20%, and it’s the best 20% of you that you have, and it goes into five people that bring their best forth. It makes it that much better. Everything falls on you when it’s solo, and that’s when you don’t realize. Sometimes it’s a gift and a curse. In a group, everyone has their specialities that they can bring to the table.
Did anything about the group dynamic change when the cameras were off during Making the Band?
Willie: I think the biggest thing about Day 26 is that we were always a group. It wasn’t like we just said, “Okay, Making the Band is coming on.”
Rob: Like, “Aye, you can sing?” [Laughs]
Willie: It was something that we had been working on individually for years, so for us to come in and fight our guests, the biggest thing was actually waiting for the cameras to go off so that we could really zone out and not be a public affair and just be something that we could grasp, becoming one with each other.
Que: Like Will said, when the cameras turned off, we worked harder. We say Diddy gave us a platform, and what you do with that platform when he gives it to you is up to you. We became hard workers. We became more dedicated. We just wanted to make Day 26 the best that it could possibly be.
You guys previously reunited for your "Made Love Lately" single back in 2011. Why was that not a full-fledged reunion that led to an album?
Brian: Well, at that point in time, it wasn’t like we had disbanded. It was more of a label situation when we were changing labels, so we had to get that situated before we could put out more material. That was like the big weight and the purpose of us taking so long to put out new material. We had to get the business side situated. That was when we parted with Bad Boy [fake cries].
Talk about your departure from Bad Boy.
Brian: That’s forever home.
Rob: I could speak from the standpoint of, I think, the most of us. This business moves a lot. As long as the relationship is good… and our relationship with Diddy is good. We didn’t leave on bad terms. We didn’t leave, actually. It was a situation that occurred that put us in the situation like it was. Most of us in this group have had deals prior to now. So we’re used to maneuvering. This is not the first label deal. It didn’t affect us in the way of hurting our music or what we were doing. We just had to move to the next phase of our career.
Willie: And the reason being for that is because really after the first album… the first album was like a handpicked album. Of course it was a classic. The second album, Diddy had taken his hands off a bit, and let us do our thing.
Brian: But, he did force some songs on there [Laughs].
Willie: I feel like half of that album is what we felt were… it was more in our creative control. The other half was…
Brian: That bullshit [Laughs].
Willie: Ha! Yeah, we felt like it was some of that included, but we were already – like I was saying, before that we did The Return EP in 2014. That was just pretty much a growth from the second album, and us really taking over everything. Now, we’re about five or six songs into our new project that’s going to drop early next year. The growth is just amazing, man. I feel like we’re stamping the new sound of who we are now. I feel like it’s great because the voices on these guys are incredible, and the chemistry amongst us is really great. We’re in a great place right now.
You guys were pretty vocal about the group being left off of the Bad Boy Reunion tour last year. Do you guys still feel slighted?
Willie: Everything is cool. It was something that was said and it was all coming from emotion. It was like, “Hey, man, what’s the deal? You’re going to have a Bad Boy reunion and you’re just going to leave out a certain era?” We get busy in our era! So it was like, "Why would you leave it out?" But it’s in the past. Now we give fans Day 26 the way we wanted to give it to them. It’s the way they should see it, and they got a chance to see the show that we were talking about.
Rob: And we ain’t gotta split it with a whole bunch of other artists. It’s just us.
Willie: We ain’t even gotta talk about it no more after that. We just went out there, did our thing, and they’ll all see. The footage will be released.
Brian: I do apologize though.
Have you guys spoken to Puff since then about it?
Willie: Uh, haven’t talked to Puff about it.
How do you feel about the state of R&B right now?
Willie: It’s a wave, and it’s different, but I like it. You can have artists like H.E.R., which I love, and SZA.
Rob: Music always changes all the time. So, you can either get on the train and find why people like it and why it’s appealing to the majority at the time, or you can sit in the past. I remember growing up and my mama would be like, “Oh, what is that you’re listening to?”
Willie: “It’s crap!” And you’d be like, “This? [What you listen to] is crap, ma!”
Rob: So, I never want to be in that category. I find a way to respect music in whatever state it’s in. I’m not mad at all. I find there are a lot of artists I like right now.
What can fans look forward to about the reunion and the upcoming album?
Brian: Greatness! [Laughs]
Que: It’s definitely a great new sound. I say our sound has always been dope. But this is just even more mature. It’s constantly growing and changing into dope music. So I would say our sound is something to expect, but we’ve also evolved so much. The evolution of Day 26 from then until now.
Willie: Of course, great harmonies. The track selection I feel like is really, really good. There’s a lot of up and coming producers on there. We’re writing a lot of new music, and like I said, man, we’re doing our own thing. If you had The Return, then you know what that portion of our lives sounded like. It’s just a growth.
Brian: And a lot of water-humping music [Laughs].
Rob: We’ve said it’ll be a mature sound. I want to make sure it’s clear that mature sound means that we’ve grown. We know we have an obligation and a responsibility to our sound that is missing, so we don’t want to take that away. We want to make sure give everybody exactly what they’re looking for from Day 26. But we also have grown and evolved, so that the young ones who didn’t know Day 26 get to know us and respect it.