A lot of musicians feel they have to leave San Diego in order to “make it.” Jacob Underwood felt he made it when he was able to move back.
“I live in the Gaslamp, but we recorded our last album over near College Avenue,” Underwood says. “This city has everything I need. I’ve always wanted to move back, and I spent 16 years working so I could.”
"All or Nothing"
Underwood grew up in the Granite Hills area of El Cajon, but moved to Orlando, Florida, to be a member of the pop group O-Town during the declining days of the boy-band era.
The group was formed for the ABC reality show Making the Band. For a while, the band did make it. In 2000, O-Town hit No. 10 on the pop charts with “Liquid Dreams,” and in 2001 they reached No. 3 with “All Or Nothing.”
Starting in 2003, O-Town went on a ten-year hiatus. Part of it was due to changes in the climate of the music industry, but also because they were sick of dealing with manager Lou Pearlman, the man who discovered the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.
Underwood claims, “He basically kept our money and said, ‘Sue me.’... He later went to jail.”
Pearlman pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money-laundering, and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding. In 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
During the band break, Underwood got a degree in business management and spent time in New York City, Florida, and Nashville. While in Music City, he worked on making customized microphones for artists.
“I built one for Stevie Wonder,” Underwood says. “And I built one for myself. My tone gets kind of thin on the higher notes so I made a mic that puts some body on it.”
- Thursday, May 19, 2016, 8 p.m.
1337 India Street,
He will be using that mic when O-Town performs Thursday, May 19, at the Music Box in Little Italy. It marks the band’s first performance in the area in 12 years. “We played at SeaWorld,” he remembers.
Underwood says O-Town started talking about a reunion in 2011 after looking back on what they learned, not the money they lost. They made it official in 2013 and have released two CDs since then.
Underwood is excited about the hometown show. “This is my first gig ever where I can sleep in my own bed after the show,” he says. “I could walk to the gig, but I’ll probably take an Uber since I’ll have a guitar.”