An Interview With Bell Biv DeVoe and New Edition’s Ronnie DeVoe About The Upcoming RBRM Tour With Bobby, Ricky & Mike!
Posted On 10 Sep 2018
This fall, Grammy-Award winning R&B icons Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe are joining forces for an explosive, all-new U.S show- The RBRM Tour.
This tour kicked off at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA on September 6th. It showcases all of the chart-topping hits audiences know and love from New Edition, BBD, and the group’s individual solo acts– giving fans fresh blend of all their favorite songs.
Kid Capri and Case will open the majority of the shows and the group will welcome other special guests like Faith Evans and more will join on select dates.
Formed in 1978 in Boston, MA, New Edition reached its height of popularity in the 1980s. During the group’s first experience with fame in 1983, its members were Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Early hits included “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” Brown left the group in 1985 and went on to have a successful solo career. In 1990 they went on hiatus while its various members worked on side projects, such as the group Bell Biv DeVoe.
Thanks so much for your time. I know you’re busy, so I really appreciate it. So how did this tour come to be? Who’s idea was it, and has it been in the works for a while?
You know what? I think it was the song Cool It Now. This tour was spoke into existence when Ralph said, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike, if I love the girl who cares who you like.” 30 years later, damn near, finally, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike are on the stage at the same time and, honestly, it’s just a matter of us running into each other on stages as separate entities. Bob’s on tour, we’re in the same place he is. He’s in Atlanta, I’m jumping on stage with him or Bell Biv DeVoe is in Los Angeles and he’s home, so he’s coming to see the show. He gets the urge and the feeling to jump on stage with us and we just looked at it like, man, let’s give them as much of New Edition as possible or do something different.
So the stars really have all aligned to make this happen now. That’s amazing.
It is. Ultimately, after the New Edition story, we were really looking at going out with all six of us but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to put that together so, in the meantime, we just felt like, look, let’s do something different. We’ve gotten on each other’s stages individually, but we’ve never really put anything together with one band, dancers on stage at the same time and maybe even just jumping on each other’s songs and dancing and background dancing for each other. Just all of the above. We will tastefully touch a couple New Edition songs. It’s not a New Edition show, of course, and we want to leave that for when we are back around and take that on the road, hopefully sometime in the near future. But, right now, we’ll touch a little bit and just give them those Bobby Brown and Bell Biv DeVoe hits.
How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically for these shows? Has that been challenging for you?
Not at all. We were given the blueprint before we came out in 1983. We would rehearse for two, three, sometimes four hours a day. Five, six, seven times a week practicing our skills to become performers and entertainers so that when opportunity presented itself we were prepared. We took that into our careers and we don’t take it for granted. People are paying their hard-earned money to come and see us, so we make sure, like you said, mentally or we’re right physically. We’re in the gym making sure we’re getting our cardio in and all of the above so that when we get onstage, we’re the best we can be.
What was it like reworking some of these older songs, these fresh, new versions. What has that been like for you?
It’s just amazing to be able to have a career doing something that you love to do. There’s so many people and artists that have come and gone in the last 30 years and New Edition and 25 plus is Bell Biv Devoe and, of course, Bob is at 30 years of Don’t Be Cruel this year. To be able to do something that you love to do and have fans like those New Edition for lifers that have been following us and propping us up and speaking life into us over this time. It’s just amazing. We’re grateful, we’re appreciative and we don’t take it for granted.
I read that Faith Evans will be joining like a special guest on this tour. Can you talk about that? Can you maybe tease some of the other special guests that will be joining you?
It’s going to be incredible. Faith Evans, Kid Capri, Case. Guy is on a few of the shows. SWV. Babyface is on a couple of the shows. We did already one or two with Xscape. There are so many names from the 90s era that are jumping on board with this RBRM thing and we’re going to move it across the country starting September 6 in Ontario, California. We make our way to Miami on November 10 and the next day we’re getting on a damn flight and going on vacation! It’s amazing to travel the country and see so many different things but it’s definitely hard work. Definitely hard work.
Are any of these venues are you more excited about than others?
Not necessarily. Just being able to do 25 shows strung together at a time where the touring business is iffy. There are major acts pulling away from tours or pulling shows down because the attendance isn’t what it needs to be or what have you. To be able to go out and do 25-plus shows and to have good energy behind and good ticket sales and all of the above is a testament to the professionalism that we’ve brought to the stage all of these years. And it’s a testament to those New Edition for lifers that have been rocking with us since day one.
Is it sometimes hard to believe that, after all this time, songs like “Poison” still will make people get up and sing and dance the second they hear it? Your longevity of your career, is that surprising at all to you sometimes?
“Poison” was a song that I felt was going to be a monster, but to be able to say that it would have the longevity that it has to this day, I can’t really say that I foresaw that. Especially, we have a generation of people that have grown with us and followed us since 1990 when the record came out. There are also younger generations that love this song. You can walk into a 40-and-up club and you can also walk into an 18-and-over club and when that song comes on, people are singing it like it just came out yesterday for their generation. We love it. It’s like that Frankie Beverly song that people still sing that came out in the 70s that the kids that were rocking to it. Feels the same way with Poison.
Speaking of the young kids- because you guys all started out when you were so young, do you make it a point now to mentor or help out young artists, the promising and up-and-coming artists today?
One of the things that the movie did was it actually brought a lot of these groups back together. When you look at 112 and Jagged Edge, there were issues to a certain extent before the movie came out. But then they were able to see some of the challenges that we’ve gone through in our careers and the fact that we were able to persevere and, okay, at times we don’t see eye-to-eye but, ultimately, you got to let bygones be bygones for the forward progress of the group. To know that we’ve touched other groups in that way. Silk and even Xscape came back around based on some of the energy from the New Edition story. What we’ve been able to lay as pioneers in the industry over the last 35 years.
Even on the shoulders of the people that we looked up to, whether that was The Jacksons or The Temptations or The O’Jays or what have you. Yes, when we do run into groups on the road, sometimes we’ll talk to some of the individuals and just give them some words of wisdom. Really trying to lead by example ultimately is what we’re doing.
Where do you think that you guys are all happiest? Do you think it’s onstage performing? In the studio? Where is that you just get your most joy?
As soon as the lights go down and you hear the roar of the crowd and they say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Bell Biv Devoe” or “New Edition” or “Bobby Brown” or “Johnny Gill” or “Ralph Tresvant” or, for the next 25-plus shows, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike, aka RBRM.” That, right there, I think is the reason why I still look maybe 22 years of age! That positive energy that comes from the audience is what we live for and it’s never really been about making music. It’s always been how do we rock the crowd? How do we make the girls scream so that we can win the $25 and go get some penny candy or some pizza or maybe whatever that was. The performance and the entertaining part of it being onstage is what we live for.
At the end of the day, what do you hope that your fans, new and old, what do you hope that they take away from one of your shows?
Love, happiness, joy, fun, excitement and just the time and the place where they can just step away from the issues and problems that we all face. Life is a challenge, up and down. But for that 75 minutes or that 90 minutes that we’re onstage, people can slip away and just go to a place where music was good and just have a great time.
That’s amazing. So will all of your families be joining you on this tour?
Yeah, yeah. I just had twin boys. They’re actually 13 months old so leaving them it can be heartbreaking at time. Yes, they will come out. I’m sure Mike’s going to bring his daughters out and Bobby will bring his kids and the families will visit for a few days here and there. It’s the grueling thing being on tour. I don’t want them to have to be open to some of the tireless nights and no sleep and up and down flights and tour buses and all of the above. But I definitely want them to experience it in bits and pieces.