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Exclusive Interview with Hollywood Records Pop Band THE PARTY

Mickey Mouse Club fans had a lot to celebrate last Saturday in Orlando. Their beloved 90s pop band, The Party, who are also former Mouseketeers from the 90s MMC TV series, came back together on stage for an incredible 30th Anniversary Reunion Concert at the Disney Springs House of Blues in Orlando. The original band members Albert Fields, Chasen Hampton, Deedee Magno Hall, and Damon Pampolina performed popular songs from their past four albums along with new songs, including their recently released single, “Party People.”

To kick off the historic night, fellow Mouseketeer and The Voice finalist Tony Lucca performed a set of his original music. Powerhouse vocalist Jennifer McGill (also a former MMC member) joined Lucca on stage for a jaw-dropping duet.

The Party was originally formed in 1990 by the Disney Channel and the first band signed to the Disney record label, Hollywood Records. Since then, the band has released four albums, with songs produced by Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams, Stephen Bray, Teddy Riley, André Cymone and Delicious Vinyl.

In celebration of The Party’s 30th anniversary, Hollywood Records released The Party’s catalogue from the 90s for the first time to all digital platforms. Two of the albums recently hit the top 10 on the iTunes Pop chart.

The Party’s Reunion Concert did more than just bring joy and memories back to hundreds of MMC fans. The event, which was presented by M12, Always in the Club and International Arts & Philanthropy Foundation, also helped raise money and awareness for the nonprofits Give Kids The World Village and Cast Member Pantry.

Fans also had the opportunity to meet and take photos with The Party members. Chasen Hampton says about the experience, “Seeing our fans again was like a lightning bolt to our souls. Seeing their faces light up again and singing every word after all these years was the medicine I didn’t know I needed.”

About getting to meet some of their loyal fans, Hampton adds, “Hearing the stories of what our music has done for them or helped them through is so special and powerful. We are so honored to have been their musical companion over the years and bring people together again. That’s really why we do what we do.”

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Hi guys, welcome to OLC! It’s been a pleasure to have you here. So for all your fans out there what have you been doing since the hiatus of The Party?

CH: Thanks so so much for having us =) Even though it still feels like yesterday we were out touring the world together, we all have become parents and continue building our careers. 1st moving to Los Angeles I had a # of solo projects with a blues/rock band Buzzfly and a handful of TV and Film roles. But along the way I landed somewhere special by becoming a music director at two music schools in Southern California. There I found my purpose and passion for building the next generation of artists up with the experience I was blessed with 15 yrs later with my company CHASENLIFE. I now have former students that are touring the world and hanging platinum albums on the wall. It’s so cool and a gift that just keeps on giving. I continue to be a mentor for Berklee College of Music in Boston and create special events with partner Dale Godboldo with AlwaysInTheClub Foundation and our MMC89 Initiative to benefit Music Education for Children.

DMH: Besides being a wife and mom, I have continued to pursue acting, singing and performing wherever and however I can. I feel very blessed to have remained busy doing what I love and loving what I do.

DP: We were all pretty blessed to stay active in some shape or form in the entertainment industry. I was entertaining for private events and venues like Hakusan, and MGM Hotel in Vegas and opening up for artists like Pitbull and Keith Urban. Dee Dee has been doing multiple Broadway tours, and was a staple character in the animated series Steven Universe. Chasen has been doing multiple production jobs, teaching kids vocal lessons and putting on productions and shows with those kids, voiceover work, and producing music. And Albert has always produced and been a studio engineer throughout the years.

So why did you decide to get back together and how did this reunion all come together?

CH: I really think we would have done it much sooner had we all lived in the same state… that’s always been the challenge being that we are all so far away from each other. Timing is everything and 30 years is a number to celebrate. Not only has the music been released but the nostalgia market is strong with the rise of con’s and colab concerts. It was meant to be, it just fell into place. Dale Godboldo and I with Always In The Club Foundation were doing a Special Event Panel for Give Kids The World and Cast Member Pantry with a big group of 90’s Mouseketeers at The DIS Family Reunion. We had to take advantage of all being together in one location especially since The Party members would all be in attendance.

DMH: I recall a conversation I had with Chasen (Damon and Albert) in 2008 or 2009 while I was playing Nessa in the sit down production of Wicked in San Francisco. That was the first time we spoke about “getting the band back together” and recording new music! I remember feeling excited to revisit our old music and the possibilities of jumping on tour with other groups from the 90’s!

DP: There’s an energy in the universe right now that is screaming for nostalgia. Especially the 90s era. If you look on social media and the Internet you can see so many bands, grunge bands, hip-hop artists, and pop artists from the 90s recirculating. Chasen had an opportunity to attach us to Give Kids The World and Cast Member Pantry. So it was kind of a no-brainer to take advantage of all of us being together in our motherland, Orlando, and we had also reached the 30th anniversary for our freshman album. It was a no brainer!

How have things changed in the music industry since the 90’s and what have you all had to adjust to?

CH: We haven’t changed what we do but musically but we have had to change strategies as the business had been re-invented. The internet started to grow and digital distribution was invented and introduced to the playing field. The good news was that because the gates had been taken down now anyone can release and distribute music on iTunes, you don’t have to be signed. Because of this, we have been able to access our former fan base, reconnect and continue growing with new followers. Finally being in full control of our sound and production is what every musician always wants all along. It’s really cool to be able to enjoy our successes knowing that we did it and we did it together!

DMH: Getting up to speed with social media was a bit of a challenge for me…but I found that it was necessary to connect with literally everyone this way. Now I just need to be better at turning off the devices more often and go outside into nature.

DP: Music nowadays is a free commodity. In our day you had to have that hard copy Cd in order to hear your favorite artists. Now with a click of a button you can have their entire album for free. You really have to be a full blown brand nowadays to make a living in this industry. Clothing, tours, product placement, all the things that were considered a sell out back in the day, are now an absolute must if you want to survive in this industry. It has completely changed in that respect.

How big of a part has social media played in your lives and how active are you all on it?

CH: Social Media has been an intricate part of us keeping those memories and music alive. People transferring their old VHS tapes to find those hidden gems is so fun. Our fans were a community then who became friends, at our shows and through our music. The internet was the perfect home for these memories to be shared and re-lived.. I believe that the tagging and engagement 30 years later around the band even helped Hollywood Rec to take notice and release the entire catalog of 47 songs to all digital platforms over the past year. That is the most touching thing to me, that my kids and new generations of fans can now discover music we poured our hearts into so long ago.

DMH: Chasen is really great at staying on top of social media. I try to keep up, posting when I want to share a friend’s post or share a personal thought, perhaps promote an event, or I make myself take device breaks.

DP: Social media is so interesting. The main comment we have heard from our fans is that they can’t believe we can be in direct contact with each other. There’s no middleman, record company, or management. It’s just us in direct contact with the fans. Is a very interesting and wild concept. It sometimes can get a little challenging to be so accessible. But, if you want to exist on any level in this industry, you better work your social media!

Tell me about the big reunion show you did in Orlando, what was the atmosphere like and how did it feel to be back performing together again?

CH: Seeing our fans again was like a lightning bolt to our souls. Seeing their faces light up and singing every word after all these years was the medicine I didn’t know I needed. Hearing the stories of what our music has done for them or helped them through is so special and powerful. And being with The Party, like all YOUR best friends, we pick up right where we left off. It feels like no time has passed in between but we know it has. They are truly my brothers and sisters, a smile appears on my face just thinking about ‘em. Looking over at them the other night while on stage was epic and emotional. Knowing the amount of experiences we have shared together is a bond like no other.

DMH: The older I get, the more nervous I feel before a performance. I think a little nerves are ok, just so long as it isn’t overpowering and keeps you from doing what you have to do. I’m grateful that we took a moment to pray before the show, something we always did before a show. After we sang the first song and the nerves subsided, I was able to take it all in, look around, see and hear the crowd. It was kind of like we went back in time to when we were teenagers living our dreams, only this time with an even fuller heart of gratitude to God and to all those who made it possible.

DP: A dream come true. A bucket list for me and one of the most amazing nights of my life. To be dealing with the challenges that we have going on in our world right now and have that many supporters show up in a state like Florida, it was beyond incredible. Our band was amazing, and my fellow bandmates were more than incredible. I loved the challenge of a 90 minute live show and I am praying hard that the opportunity will present itself again very soon!!!

You have a new track out called “Party People”, what’s it about and who helped you work on it?

CH: We used to do a song in all our shows called “Life Ain’t Nothing But A Party.” This is our current version of that feeling! An Anthem, if you will, produced by member Albert Fields, who he killed the track. It’s dark and funky and by the end of the day you’ll realize you hadn’t stopped singing in the chorus in your head since you heard it lol! Albert created the track and on the spot, we all individually wrote our verse melodies and lyrics, and the rest is history.

DMH: “Party People” was a collaboration. We each wrote our verses and contributed to the chorus and harmonies. It was fun and sort of like a sequel to our song, “Life Ain’t Nothin’ But A Party.”

DP: “Party People” is 100% all of us! The band! Produced by Jeune, and written by us! I’m very proud of that track and it was a perfect fit to end the show in Orlando! We got a very warm and great response with that song live. So far, the response from our supporters has been incredible for those who have downloaded the song on social media!

Can we expect a video for the song and if so what can you tell me about it?

CH: I would love that and I can assure you there will be a live in-concert version to see coming soon.

DP: No plans for a video at this time. If the response gets strong enough, we will have to do one. And you know it will be in a wild, expressive, party fashion!

What are some of your fondest memories of being a part of MMC?

CH: There is not a day that went by where something memorable didn’t happen, We had celebrity guests coming on weekly and visiting the set. From Lenard Nemoy to NKOTB to Michael Jackson. We got to use all the Disney parks for music videos and skits. We went to school on what is now Pixar Street in Hollywood Studios and shot on the stage that is now the Toy Story Ride. But honestly we loved to perform and being in a show with so many diverse kids was a blessing none of us realized at the time. To be able to lean on and learn from some of the most talented souls I know was an education in itself. We pushed each other and shared each other’s talents making all of us collectively better. Not just better performers but better people.

DMH: My fondest memories of being part of MMC has everything to do with the lifelong friendships I made on the show. I have too many memories to mention, but one that stands out is the amazing opportunity and gift it was to be able to do what I love and love what I do for a living at such a young age.

DP: My long-term memory is incredible, I remember so many random days so vividly. Meeting Chasen in the rehearsal hall for the very first time with snakeskin boots on and his faded blue Jean long trench coat. Meeting Albert for the first time in his trailer and borrowing his brush. The memories go on and on.

Are there any crazy stories you’d like to share?

CH: I immediately think back to working with Dre on “Let’s Get Right Down To It.” We were on cloud nine. We’re in the President of Hollywood Records Peter Peterno’s office. He says, “Who do you guys want to work with on the new album?” We said NWA knowing he’d never go for it being a Disney label, and without flinching Peter, had Easy E on speaker phone asking for us. Our mouths dropped, he then turned us onto Suge Knight and then we met with Dre. What an amazing experience, they were in the studio writing “The Chronic” at the time. Getting to preview those early hits and hang at the board with The DOC, Dre and Snoop was priceless. Learned a ton about his work ethic and grind. Amazing!

DMH: I can’t remember who I was with…probably with Tiffini and/or Mylin, but NKOTB was having a private concert on Disney property and we tried to sneak in to watch it, and unfortunately were unsuccessful. So sad!!

DP: My favorite memory is when it would be us three in a music video together!

Can we expect any more music from The Party and if so what can you tell us?

CH: I can only hope so, I love creating with this group. The mixture of all our styles and influences always lends itself to something magic being made. If the fans keep hungry I say let’s serve it up =)

DMH: Anything is possible, nothing is impossible with God.

DP: We have quite a few tracks in our arsenal. Many people are unaware of how many tracks we actually have ready to rock. When we reunited a few years ago we really worked hard to have a lot of songs completed. And we did! The future is unknown at this time of how and when those songs will be released. But we have them.

Are you planning on any more live shows and if so where can people see you?

CH: We don’t have any plans as of yet but there’s a lot of demand after the statement we made at Disney Springs. I know how much fun we had unlocking those songs and memories again and can tell you we’re all in if the experience can be presented right to the fans.

DMH: I hope so! You can follow us on social media to get any updates!

DP: I am putting a lot of energy out in the universe for some more live shows in a city near you.

What would you like to say to all your fans out there who have been die hard fans of yours since the 90’s?

CH: We have grown so very close to our fans. They are family, over time as we have learned about their individual challenges, hardships and triumphs we celebrate them as they have us over all these years. Knowing our music has or had gotten them through the best and worst of times is deep, that it evokes a feeling only music can provide. A hug through the headphones to some and a bolt of inspiration to others. It’s special and we are connected for life, to be your musical companion for the last 30 years has been an honor.. all my love to you..always and forever.

DMH: To our fans who have been on this journey with us and continue to support us after all these years…God bless you. I’m so grateful and I love you forever!

DP: As far as the fans are concerned, in this day and age without those fans, there is no us. Truly we do not exist. And the main drive and motivation for the show in Orlando on September 11 was for the diehards! And it was absolutely beautiful and at times soul-moving. It was so powerful we all shed a tear on that stage at some point throughout the evening. And that’s the truth. So if you ask us how we feel about our fans, we love them with all our hearts! And if any supporter runs into me on the streets, I will sign anything you have, and I will take as many pictures as you desire. And if you tell me that you were at that show at the House of Blues in Orlando on September 11, the outpour of love from me will be immense.

What do you think?

Written by Neill Frazer

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