O-Town’s Jacob Underwood and Erik-Michael Estrada are speaking out after ex-bandmate Ashley Parker Angel alleged he faced “vicious attacks” from the group following their 2003 disbandment.
The boy band formed on 2000 reality series “Making the Band”, had hits like “Liquid Dreams,” toured with Britney Spears then split. In 2013, Underwood, Estrada, Trevor Penick and Dan Miller reunited, however Angel was pursuing Broadway ambitions and declined the reunion.
During the latest “Hollywood Raw“ podcast, Angel claimed there’s bad blood with his former bandmates, and that an unnamed member made “absolutely vicious attacks” against him publicly and “unsupportive” comments during interviews. He added he hopes to “forgive and forget and move on.” However, the group aren’t aware of what requires forgiving.
“I’ve never said anything bad about him in an interview,” Estrada tells ET Canada, responding to speculation that Angel’s referring to him. “Some people tell stories and remember things their way. If there was any public de-shaming, we’d be able to bring up [proof].”
“I don’t speak to him, but I’m not surprised,” Estrada added about Angel’s claims. “A lot of messages we’ve received from Ashley have been via the press, so this is par-for-the-course.”
Underwood’s also unaware what Angel’s referring to. “No one’s attacked him publicly,” he says. “We’ve done nothing but respect him publicly. Within the band, we’ve talked about Ashley in jest, but never negatively. Even our fans say they’ve never heard us attack him or say he’s just the ‘face of the band.’ That might be in his head.”
“His comment about ‘vicious’ things could be about something personal,” Underwood, 42, suggests. “He, Erik and Trevor lived in LA for eight years in the same circles, so I’m assuming it’s something in there, because if it was band-related I’d know.”
Asked whether Angel, 40, could be talking about something expressed privately, Estrada maintains he has “no idea” what he’s referring to.
Meanwhile, Underwood says that although all band members wanted to explore other ventures at the time of their breakup, Angel pulled the plug “too early”.
“We thought we were finally getting what we’d worked for,” says Underwood, noting the “All or Nothing” singers didn’t earn significant money during “Making the Band”. “The show was cancelled and we had a record deal offer with a $10 million signing bonus. I was like, ‘We’re done with TV, but all we wanted was music, so here it is. A record deal where the signing bonus will pay for the work we’ve done building our brand. Let’s do it, then go do our own things.’”
“Ashley had somebody telling him he’d be the next big actor, but even our manager went, ‘Here’s your payday guys. Just do one more tour and album,’” Underwood continues. “But Ashley walked away, which frustrated everybody. He jumped ship early and it left a sour note. He abandoned all the work we’d put in. There are no grudges now, but at the time there was good reason to be upset.”
Angel’s departure killed the deal and O-Town split.
In 2006, Angel launched reality series “There & Back”. In “Hollywood Raw”, Angel claimed all but one band member – the one he alleges made nasty comments about him – showed their support via guest appearances. However, Underwood, Estrada, Penick and Miller all cameoed on the show.
“I was in a birthday party scene with them,” confirms Estrada, 42.
As for when and how his relationship with Angel fizzled, Estrada says, “When reliability and communication diminish, one’s friendship ceases to exist. It was part of the natural drifting when a band disassembles.”
Underwood remained in casual contact with Angel, who congratulated him on the birth of his daughter Everest and 2019 release of The O.T.W.N Album. Penick has said he and Miller occasionally talk to Angel.
Angel’s allegations come just weeks after he reunited with Underwood, Penick and Estrada at Ryan Cabrera’s wedding to Alexa Bliss, a catch-up he described as “awesome”.
“I said, ‘What’s up’ then we went on with wedding festivities,” says Estrada. “Everything seemed fine.”
“Erik and Ashley walked in together laughing and Trevor went, ‘Look – we haven’t seen this in a while!’ because we hadn’t seen Ashley, let alone everybody hanging out,” adds Underwood. “Everyone was drinking and having heart-to-hearts, so if anything was going to come out, it would’ve been then. The wedding made me feel like there’s no bad blood.”
The group even invited Angel to this Saturday’s Pop2000 Tour gig in Las Vegas and during the podcast he said he’ll attend, before joking he wouldn’t jump on stage in case someone tried to trip him up.
“That’s funny as I have flashbacks of him falling off stage lots by himself,” Underwood laughs.
But don’t expect to see Angel performing – or falling off – stage at the Green Valley Ranch stop of the tour, which features *NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick, LFO’s Brad Fischetti, Mark McGrath, Ryan Cabrera and David Cook. While Estrada and Underwood are open to a reunion, they agree it needs ample discussion.
“Mainly for our fans’ sake,” says Underwood. “Because as soon as he comes on, they’ll ask, ‘Is there a reunion?’ We want to have answers. And I don’t think that would lead into him being back in the band because his desires are elsewhere. He’s never shown desire to put in the dedication we give O-Town today. But I hope we can bring Ashley back for a special engagement because I know he can’t commit to the touring we do.”
While Underwood hopes to show Angel he feels no “bad blood” this weekend, Estrada has “absolutely no harsh feelings towards Ashley,” – but no desire to discuss the allegations.
“If he’s there, he’s there,” Estrada says. “I focus so much on working on the road. I’m not focused on a visitor and at this point in our relationship and business, he’s exactly that – a visitor. An old colleague.”
The group are meanwhile proud of their achievements as a foursome, like releasing crowdfunded The O.T.W.N Album, making their first late-show appearance and headlining the Pop2000 Tour.
“Ryan Cabrera opens, Mark McGrath comes on, then we have LFO and Chris Kirkpatrick join us,” Underwood says about the concert, adding that Kirkpatrick wants to add in more *NSYNC material.
Underwood credits O-Town’s loyal “townies” for allowing them to continue their musical dreams. He loves creating interactive VIP experiences for them, whether it’s mini-golf, go-karting or game nights.
“It’s the same 100-200 girls coming to every VIP and event, allowing us to live our dreams,” he says. “They give us this life and we’re so thankful.”
*ET Canada can announce the finalized Pop200 Tour dates:
5/7/22 Las Vegas, NV – Green Valley Ranch Casino
6/10/22 Reno, NV – Eldorado Casino Brewfest
6/25/22 Boise, ID – Boise Music Festival
7/15/22 Dallas, TX – Legacy Hall
7/16/22 Austin, TX – Buck’s Backyard
7/29/22 Dubuque, IA – Dubuque County Fair
8/04/22 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
8/05/22 Kalamazoo, MI – Kalamazoo RibFest
8/06/22 Xenia, OH – Caesar Ford Summer Fest
8/11/22 Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Ballroom
8/12/22 Chicago, IL – Joe’s Live Rosemont
8/13/22 Decatur, IL – Devon Lakeshore Amphitheatre
8/18/22 Nashville, TN – City Winery
8/19/22 Corbin, KY – Corbin Arena
8/20/22 Peachtree City, GA – Fred Brown Jr Amphitheater
9/09/22 Pittsburgh, PA – Rivers Casino
9/10/22 Niagara Falls, NY – Evening Star Concert Hall
9/16/22 Stamford, CT – Palace Theatre
9/17/22 Baltimore, MD – Power Plant Live
9/18/22 Frenchtown, NJ – Artie’s Outdoors
9/19/22 New York, NY – City Winery
9/20/22 Boston, MA – City Winery