Monday, February 27, 2023

Interview: Jeff Sanders & Buddy Wike of INTRO talks 30th Anniversary of Debut Album, Kenny Greene & More

Brooklyn, New York-based R&B group Intro which originally consisted of members Kenny Greene, Jeff Sanders and Clinton 'Buddy' Wike burst on the scene 30 years ago with their Gold-selling self-titled debut album which spawned their top 10 hit single "Come Inside". The album scored several other successful singles "Let Me Be the One" and "Love Thang" both reaching the top 30 in the R&B charts as well as a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In the Sky" that managed to reach No. 11 on the R&B charts. The trio released a second album entitled New Life in 1995 which features the top 30 R&B hit "Funny How Time Flies" as well as charting single "Feels Like the First Time". Lead singer Kenny Greene continued writing for the likes of Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, 98 Degrees, Soul for Real, Christopher Williams and more. Unfortunately, Greene passed away in 2001. RnBJunkieOfficial caught up with remaining members Jeff Sanders and Buddy Wike for an exclusive to discuss all things Intro. Come Inside...

TERRANCE: This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Intro's debut album. Are there any fond memories you could share about creating that album?

BUDDY WIKE: I remember waking up in the middle of the night and Jeff was in the vocal booth with this girl doing the end of the "Come Inside" record. As far as all of the records, they are memorable and everybody came in and did what they did talentwise, but if you had to put your finger on one particular thing that happened, like the end of that record. Waking up and hearing all of these noises going on in the studio. It sounded like someone was lying right next to me on the next couch and that's because it was coming out of the speakers.

JEFF SANDERS: So yeah, there's a skit at the end of "Come Inside" that the producer Nevelle Hodge wanted. It was almost like that Guy record "Tease Me" and there was a scene where Aaron Hall was having sex on that record. The producer wanted something like that, so I called this girl that I knew that I was dating in the past, but she was still an active stripper. I called her in and I said, listen I need for us to make up a scene. When we first did it, we were pretty much acting it out and it didn't sound right. It sounded really fake, so I asked the producer if we could dim the lights and close the curtains on the booth and let us do our thing? At the time, it was the engineer and the producer. Buddy and Kenny I believe, were in the lounge taking a nap. So, me and the girl just went to work. Real sex and it came out perfect. 

TERRANCE: And speaking of "Come Inside". Where were you and what were your reactions when you first heard it on the radio?

BUDDY WIKE: Wow. I was at home with the window open and a car drove by and I heard it. I said, they must have gotten a copy of the tape or demo, so I didn't pay it no mind. Then later on in the day about two hours later I heard it again outside of my house. I said, this song's gotta be on the radio. I turned the radio on and it was on.

JEFF SANDERS: When I first heard it, neither my parents nor my family believed me. They were like, yeah right. I was like, okay. I was so nonchalant about it. They couldn't believe it after they found out it was us.

TERRANCE: You guys did an impressive cover of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In the Sky" on the album.

JEFF SANDERS: We were first introduced to the idea of covering that song by our A&R Tim Dawg Patterson. I can remember that I automatically rejected it in my head. Like, ain't no freakin' way. Nobody touches Stevie Wonder. Even Kenny and Buddy both felt that way about the idea. Who the hell is going to mess with a Stevie song? But when Nevelle did the track and Kenny laid down his first note, I'm not going to lie to you, I said, oh we might have something here. 

TERRANCE: So, did Stevie ever reach out or meet you guys?

BUDDY WIKE: We did meet him, but I almost missed him because I had came back to New York after we finished filming the video. As soon as I walk in the house, my mom tells me that Kenny called and to give him a call at the hotel. I called him at the hotel and he said, you shouldn't have left because tomorrow we're going to meet Stevie Wonder. So, I was able to get back to the airport that night to get back to the hotel the next morning. And sure enough, we went to Stevie's house and we spent the whole day hanging out with him. We called over some friends like Terence Trent D'Arby and Johnny Gill to spend the day with us and we ended up recording a song and celebrating Kenny's birthday. It was a great experience to just be there with Stevie Wonder.

TERRANCE: Are there any personal favorites or standout songs from that album?

JEFF SANDERS: My personal favorite probably will always be "Don't Leave Me". I think there's something melodic about that track that touches my soul. From the music being created to the song being recorded and the whole element of that song I will never forget. That feeling will always stick with me, so that's why I love that song. 

BUDDY WIKE: Yeah, we share the same song. As far as one of the greatest misses, "Don't Leave Me" was supposed to follow after "Ribbon In the Sky" but this was when record companies had a schedule that they had to stick by and these dates when they are going to release records, so when it was time to release "Don't Leave Me", they wanted us to go back in and just do a whole 'nother album. You haven't heard the last of "Don't Leave Me". I promise you.

TERRANCE: There is a second album, New Life. Are there any personal favorites or standout songs from that album?

BUDDY WIKE: Probably "My Love's On the Way".

JEFF SANDERS: I would say "Strung Out On Your Lovin'" and "Feels Like the First Time". "Feels Like the First Time" was probably one of the prettiest records on the second album and I've heard that from many fans and I could agree. The elements of that record were definitely something catchy. 

TERRANCE: You guys were recently featured on Eric Roberson's song and video for "All I Want". How did that come about?

JEFF SANDERS: I met Eric Roberson back in 2014 in Minneapolis. At the time I was in a relationship with a young lady in Minneapolis and we went to an event that he was performing at. The actual manager of the club knew I was in there and he mentioned me on the mic that we got Jeff Sanders from Intro, and one of his band members said, Eric wants to meet you. I didn't know he was such a big fan, like he broke down everything. He was telling me how he was in college and he actually had Intro as a blueprint of his writing and how he loved Intro so much. He was really going in. We had a great time just talking about all of that and how he really, really studied Kenny's writing and paid attention to his skill set. So, we exchanged numbers and occasionally we'd talk here and there. Then one of our other friends Rashad Smith who used to be Erykah Badu's director, actually called us up and said, yo' you know who sounds like Kenny a lot and reminds me of Kenny? We said, who? He said Eric Roberson would be a good fit for y'all. At the time, we were going to come together to do an album, but due to scheduling, things just weren't aligned. But, Eric still wanted to work with us. Originally I was told from him that he thought of two groups Intro and SWV, but after thinking about it, he said, I gotta go with Intro on this record.

BUDDY WIKE: We went out to his house to discuss putting the record on our 25th anniversary album, but the 25th anniversary album didn't turn into an album, it ended up just pretty much being a playlist that was released during Black Music Month. So, when it was time for him to go do his album, he called us again and said, hey I'm working on a new album and let's do the song and put it on this album. We went out to his studio and then about two weeks later we went back out to film the video and next thing I know, I'm watching the video on BET.

TERRANCE: From your perspective, what are some things people could learn about Kenny Greene and his musical contributions?

BUDDY WIKE: I think Kenny pretty much contributed a little bit to every genre during his writing years. I feel he was one of the best songwriters I've ever encountered and he just never ceased to amaze me. He just kept going and going. Even though I was in the group, I was constantly being entertained and learning at the same time. You had to be around him to witness it. He could write a song so fast, man. I knew going into the studio, the song was going to pretty much be written and I never had a problem with that. I was like, this is just going to be dope and it's going to follow us. He was a really cool guy. God rest his soul.

TERRANCE: Are there any upcoming events or projects you could tell us about?

BUDDY WIKE: Well, we're still putting together our 30th anniversary package. So, we kinda like slowed down on our dates but we will pop back out for a few dates around Easter time, I think.

TERRANCE: Any final words you would like to share with your fans, followers, listeners and the readers?

BUDDY WIKE: This interview was so nice and smooth, man. But I just want to say look out for Intro and the 30th anniversary.

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