The members of The Time predict that this will be the year the iconic funk group’s original lineup releases its first album since 1990’s “Pandemonium.”
Bassist and primary producer Terry Lewis tells Billboard.com that the as-yet-untitled set — which The Time has been working on in earnest since reuniting for the 2008 Grammy Awards — is “going into mixing,” though keyboardist Jimmy “Jam” Harris, who promises that we’ll “absolutely hear (the album) this year,” cautions that “we probably have a couple more songs in us” before the set is complete.
And frontman Morris Day says that’s been the problem — too much of a good thing. “The album has been done for a long time now, but we keep adding to it,” Day notes with a laugh. “So the deal is we’ve got to stop cutting at some point because it just keeps getting better and better. At some point we have to have the attitude that, OK, there can also be a second and a third project; we don’t have to shoot the whole wad on this one. So I think we’re gonna stop now; we might do one or two (more) songs, but we’re going to go ahead and put this thing out, finally.”
The Time is currently unsigned, but Jam says the group is exploring several options and has had plenty of inquiries, including from Island Def Jam’s L.A. Reid, who’s a big fan. “Our thing is let’s get the record done, then we’ll find the best home for it,” Jam explains. “We want to go with somebody who’s a big fan and is really going to appreciate what we’re doing.” With the 30th anniversary of its first album coming in 2011, the group also has interest in a retrospective and possibly revamping and reissuing its back catalog.
Day says Time fans will not be surprised by the new songs, which he describes as “hard to classify. It’s got funk and it’s got rock. It’s cool, sexy music with attitude.” Jam adds that the group has “15 songs, and we probably really love 10 of them — and that varies from day to day as we listen, honestly.” Song titles include “Stingy,” “Strawberry Lake” and “If I Were Your Man,” and some of the material dates back to writing that began after “Pandemonium” was released. “We didn’t anticipate we wouldn’t make another album for 20 years,” Jam explains. “Most of those ideas are still valid ideas.”
Jam says the new material “is definitely funky” and promises that “there’s definitely going to be some extended jams on there. We’ve never been into writing three-minute songs. Our three-minute songs always turn into six minutes; there might be three minutes of song and three minutes of a groove and we don’t want to lose any of the groove. Some songs we can certainly edit down to single length, but on the album we’re going to leave the grooves intact.”
The Time — which also includes guitarist Jesse Johnson, keyboardist Monte Moir, drummer Jellybean Johnson and hype man Jermone Benton — is in the midst of a four-date Stingy Tour, which recently played in Las Vegas and will bring the band to its longtime stronghold of Detroit on June 11 and a homecoming show on June 13 in Minneapolis. “It’s good creative fuel for us to perform live,” Jam says, “and then we can get back in the studio and bring that energy with us.” Jesse Johnson, meanwhile, will spend the summer touring to promote his latest solo album, “Verbal Penetration Vol. I & II” and plans to open for the Time when it tours in earnest to promote the new album.
Day, who still leads an adjunct of the Time that includes Moir and Johnson, says that The Time’s prospects after the album’s release are “yet to be revealed.”
“We all have busy careers and lives and families and all of that now,” he says. “Whether everybody is going to be able to go out there on the road and do this like we used to is questionable. But we’re definitely going to put a tour together and drop this music and see where it goes.”