Hi-Five, the quintet from Waco, Texas, taught us how to play the kissing game with a popular boy or girl in school when they released their number one single, "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," in 1990. The single was an instant hit, thanks to New Jack Swing innovator, Teddy Riley and songwriter, Bernard Belle. The group released a number of top ten singles such as "Unconditional Love," "She's Playing Hard to Get," "Just Can't Handle It," "I Can't Wait Another Minute," and "Never Should've Let You Go." However, the group disbanded in 1994.
After the guys took some time off, they realized absence really makes the heart grow fonder once they reunited. The group regained their love for music again and was ready to spread love to their fans. Original members Shannon Gill, Marcus Sanders, and Treston Irby were inspired to get back on the road after Hi-Five lead vocalist, Tony Thompson died in 2007. Now with a new record label, Bronx Most Wanted, Gill, Saunders, Irby, and two new members, Dre Wonda and Faruq Evans are ready to continue the legacy.
Hi-Five's concert is coming up on July 27th at B.B. King in New York City with special guests Horace Brown, Jeff Redd, and Meli'sa Morgan. While the guys were touring, preparing and rehearsing for the concert, Saunders and Irby chatted with Singersroom about how they evolved as an artists, their long hiatus, Tony's death, and more.
Marcus: We realize now that we have impacted a lot of male group's careers. Being recognized after 20 years is a big deal for us. Younger fans appreciate our music. Our music is still relevant and good in the business. That's a big deal because we looked up to New Edition, Jackson Five, and other groups. They were huge inspirations for us so it's a good look because without them, fans wouldn't be able to respect our work so it's an ongoing cycle.
Treston: The song, "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," changed our lives because Bernard Belle and Teddy Riley composed a song that was age appropriate for us. I mean we were 15-16 years old at the time. The song catered to our generation, and Tony's vocals made it a number one song. We crossed over as a group when we released the song, so many thanks to Teddy and Bernard. Our career wouldn't be where it is now without our number one smash.
Favorite Songs to Perform
Marcus: "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game" – I love performing that song on stage. We receive a positive reaction from the audience when we sing that song. It's our number one hit and everyone remembers it.
Treston: I love them all. When we perform the songs, it's great to see fans know our songs word for word. We see them get in tune and I get upset when time is running out on stage.
Separation in 1994
Marcus: We believe everything happens for a reason. It was truly a time where we needed to grow and develop as artists and men.
Treston: The separation made us humble ourselves in such a way that made us appreciate life. We started to have a different perspective on life and concentrate on the things that's really important. For that, we have much more to say in the business and music. Back in the early 90's at 16 years old, we were very successful, but we didn't really know the ins and outs of the business. It was hard being recognized because outside of BET, our music wasn't really played. Now, you have MTV and all kinds of stuff, a drastic change.
Life after Tony Thompson death's and Reuniting
Marcus: Tony was the key to the puzzle as to why we decided to reunite. It was a bigger reason we needed to reunite because we have to keep the name going. It was time for us to get back together. Tony was Shannon's reason on why he rejoined the group because reunion had a different meaning for us.
Treston: I was working on a project and everyone would come up to me and say, "What's up with the guys?" It caught on me too many times and that's when I called Marcus. I told him the streets are talking and he was down. Then Shannon, but still needed two guys. My buddy from Intro brought Dre Wonda down to the studio and I said, "Wow, he sounds good." We needed something new and fresh and that was Dre. But we were still one man short, and we tried cats from all over, but they didn't make the cut. I heard about Faruq and he showed me what he can do and everything was all good. We were ready to work.
We got everybody together and had to get back out there, perform our hits, and record new material that would be relevant for the fans. When we release material, we don't want the fans to say, "This is not a Hi-Five sound"; it will be a cultural shock for them. You can't release a rock 'n' roll song because that's not us. That's important to us so we always keep that in mind. We don't want to lose focus on what we already built. We don't want to lose sight of what made us who we are as artists.
In Store for Hi-Five
Treston: A new album – released our new single, "Favorite Girl," on iTunes. Fans can check out the "Favorite Girl," video on YouTube.com [Listen below]… performing, and touring.
Performing at BB Kings
Marcus: It's a beautiful thing man. Give a shout out to WBLS for organizing the concert. They did a great job.
Treston: Our line-up for the concert is well-deserved because we have some pretty good talent: Horace Brown, Jeff Reed, Meli'sa Morgan. New York is our second home and we're excited to be back on stage. I can say it's going to be a concert that fans will enjoy. They will not be disappointed.
Special Thank You to the Fans
Marcus: Thanks for sticking by us throughout the years. It's all about our fans. It's important that we cater to them because we don't want to lose our fan base. We miss them and we're gonna keep on rocking just for them.