For a while there, Jonathan Timber was a bandleader in need of a band.
The Queens, N.Y.-born, Greensboro-based singer/guitarist fronted his own band, J. Timber – until his bandmates decided to pursue other things.
“My other band was kind of taking a break, I guess you could say,” says Timber, 24, on the phone from Greensboro. “So the guys in the band were going back to school and I completely understand that.”
Bandless, Benton James, Timber’s manager and frontman for the recently disbanded Greensboro group The Urban Sophisticates, asked if he wanted to perform alongside another Greensboro band that James managed.
“Benton was like, ‘Well, since you’re not really doing much, I’ll let you join Phive,’ ” remembers Timber. “And first it was kinda like I was gonna be featured here and there. And then eventually it became, you know, well, why don’t you just join Phive completely – because it makes sense?”
Timber had previous experience collaborating with Phive, doing guest shots on songs.
“They kinda really needed a singer in full-time, I guess you could say,” he says. “And, so, yeah, it just kinda worked out to where, you know, since I wasn’t doing anything, I’d go ahead and join Phive.”
Ever since Timber joined the band early last year, the former cover band – whose members include MC/bassist Afika Nxumalo, guitarist/keyboardist Daniel “Dante” Mascali, drummer Mike Johnson and DJ “Matt “818” Owen – has became a hip-hop/pop collective that doles out party anthems for young extroverts everywhere.
“Since I joined the band, we kinda started branching out and doing a little more,” he says. “We still do cover stuff here and there, you know, every once in a while. We’re just starting to focus more towards playing our original stuff. And the hip-hop cover band stuff really kinda gets your attention because it’s a full band doing all the, you know, popular hip-hop songs that you hear on the radio or in the ’90s. So it’s a really fun atmosphere. And then I’ll sing something on top of it. It’s kind of like a mashup.”
Last May, the band released a full-length mix tape, “Party Phoul,” a collection that includes songs that have gone on to appear on youngster-friendly reality shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.”
“People took a liking to it and the next thing, you know, we were getting featured on all these TV shows,” says Timber. “It’s exciting. I mean, it’s really crazy when you’re watching TV and my music comes on a TV show three times, you know.”
Thanks to their songs making reality-show appearances, Phive’s popularity has risen considerably.
“Our numbers have gone up,” says Timber, referring to the followers they’ve accumulated on sites like Twitter and Facebook. “It’s been great feedback, you know, as far as our fans.”
The increasing fan base gives the already-itinerant Phive incentive to go out on the road and perform more. It’s usually on the road where they get inspiration for songs, like “Anything Goes,” an ode to over-imbibing yet lovable party girls.
“That was written from the stance of touring all these college parties, and we’ve all been through that situation – or seen it, at least – at a bar where so-and-so girl is with her boyfriend and she’s probably had too many drinks or whatever and a little sloppy, whatever you wanna say,” says Timber. “I mean, I kinda found that humorous to me.”
Timber insists it’s this tongue-in-cheek spirit, not to mention feel-good, happy-go-lucky music (his words), that’s making Phive increasingly buzz-worthy group.
“I mean, we’re party music,” says Timber, who also notes the band is hard at work on another album. “It’s not like you’re gonna listen to that song and be like, ‘Wow, they’re talking to my spirit, my soul.’ ”