AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys Talks BSB Cruise, NKOTBSB, His Best Summer Concert, and More
Tue, 19 Jul 2011 09:55:48
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"The Backstreet Boys Cruise is all about the fans", declares AJ McLean of BSB.
In fact, the cruise is the best way to get up close and personal with the premier pop group. Ever since they won over the hearts of millions worldwide, BSB have emphasized giving back to their devout, diehard audience, but there's no better way for them to do so than by spending December 2nd through December 5th with a boatful of fans.
This is unlike any other cruise out there though. Attendees enjoy themed deck parties and participate in awesome activities with the group ranging from karaoke to poker. Plus, BSB brings their catalog of classics to life live on the high seas during an unforgettable performance. The quartet—McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell—remain one of the most important and infectious pop presences ever, and the constantly find new ways to deliver their timeless jams to the world. The cruise is another shining example…
While dazzling audiences on NKOTBSB, AJ McLean spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about the Backstreet Boys Cruise, kicking it with New Kids on the Block, the concert he remembers the most, and so much more in this exclusive interview.
Have you gotten your tickets for the Backstreet Boys Cruise Dec 2-5, 2011 yet? If you haven't what are you waiting for! Get them here!
Where did the idea for the Backstreet Boys cruise come from?
Well, we had actually heard about this whole celebrity cruise idea quite a while ago. I know Rick Springfield did it a couple of times. The New Kids on the Block have done it a few times. We gave it a try last year. We did half the boat, and it was an absolute blast. It's an awesome way for us to get really close and intimate with our fans. We do the typical meet-n-greet as well as an actual performance, but we also do other fun activities whether they're on the beach like volleyball and tug-of-war or on the boat. We did this giant Twister game. We also do these deck parties that are usually themed. We did a Black and Blue party. We were trying to do a bubble party, but unfortunately, the weather did not permit that to happen. We did an international night where everyone came dressed as their different cultures. I stayed up a couple of nights until six in the morning DJ-ing. I taught some girls how to play poker and blackjack. A couple of us would actually go to the fans' doors at two or three AM and take pictures with them. On the first cruise, we held a contest for the best door. Fans had to really go all out and put up decorations, pictures, cool shapes, designs, and whatever they could come up with on the door of their cabin. We'd pick the actual winner, and that winner could meet us and come on stage. We do game show-style activities like Family Feud. However, the best was probably open mic karaoke night. This young lady did "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot and she didn't even need the teleprompter. She knew it word for word and was popping her booty. It was awesome [Laughs]. We also picked three different winners to come up on stage and perform with us during a song called "She's a Dream". That was the first cruise.
How is the next one different?
Now, we're doing the full boat which means double of everything! Instead of three different game show-type functions, there will be double. We'll still do three different deck parties. We have one idea to do an '80s throwback night, but it'll be hair bands [Laughs]. Years ago, we had a video for "Just Want You to Know" where we're in spandex playing like an old hair band. We're going to wear the wigs and spandex and play all '80s rock music one night. I threw out the idea of doing a Pirates of the Caribbean night. We're not going to be in the Caribbean, we're going to be in The Bahamas. It's pretty darn close [Laughs]. I'm going to dress up like Captain Jack Sparrow. Nick threw out the idea of doing a KY wrestling match with the fans a la Old School with "Old Blue". We want to push the limits on this next cruise, get crazy, and have fun. It's a full boat so it's a lot more work, but it's a ton of fun. We're looking forward to it! It's going to be awesome.
What other ideas did you bring to the table for this next cruise?
We've been trying to think of game show ideas. I thought of doing a Whose Line Is It Anyway game. Each of us will get with three fans. We're going to have a couple of special guests on the boat who could host it. They can give each team a scenario, and we have to do the improv, whether it's a song or something else. So it's just like the show. Whichever team wins will receive some kind of prize. The best thing is nobody loses. There will be no losers on the boat. If we do a game show, everybody wins. We're thinking of doing something like Pictionary. There are so many ideas being stirred up in the pot right now. I'm at @skulleeroz on Twitter, and I'd love to throw it out to the fans to come up with some cool ideas of what they want to see and do. This is all about the fans. If they can come up with some cool ideas, who knows?!
You've always been so connected to your fans, and this is the ultimate Backstreet Boys experience.
Exactly! It really is. We do sound check parties before every show where we'll take requests and do two or three songs. Then, we'll do a Q&A and photos. We get to interact with the fans but not on a level as grand as the BSB Cruise. You're really interacting with the fans by going to their rooms hanging out and taking pictures. We'll host a club night. I brought a bunch of fans in to play blackjack. We had the idea of doing individual events too. Maybe I'll teach fans how to play poker. Howie might do a wine or tequila tasting. Nick might take them down to the beach and do some aerobics or workout stuff. Brian may take them jet-skiing. We're trying to cater to every fan on the boat individually and as a group. We're really going to go there this time round.
Did you ever go on a cruise you were personally stoked about?
You know what? The BSB Cruise last year was my very first cruise ship. I'd never been on a cruise ship before in my life. I'm not a big "boat guy" [Laughs]. I get seasick really easily, but I actually managed very well on the boat. Except when I got off the boat, I still had the bends thing going on like I couldn't walk straight for a couple days. It's an experience. For my mom's 60th, my parents really want to take a week-long cruise ship to Alaska, and I'm looking forward to that. I think we're going to do that next year.
How has NKOTBSB been?
It's been awesome! The tour has been going great with all of these sold out shows. The fan response has been unbelievable. There's so much love for both of these groups. It's really been cool to see both generations of fans merge together every show to become like this superfan [Laughs]. It's cool to see New Kids fans rocking New Kids shirts singing Backstreet Boys songs and vice versa. We have a moment in our set where we sing "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and we bring four fans on stage and serenade them. A couple of nights, I've grabbed girls who are in full-on New Kids gear from head-to-toe and they're having a blast singing along. It's a great show. It's two hours of nonstop hits, and the nine of us are having a blast out here. We're hopping on each other's buses, hanging out, and playing video games. Everyone wants to be on my bus because I've got all the toys. I've got ten RC cars, a Segway, and a BMX bike. We have XBOX so we're always playing Madden or NHL. The two who hang out with me the most are Donnie Wahlberg and Joey McIntyre. Joe just randomly shows up on my bus whenever he wants unannounced. I think it's hilarious. Donnie and I go play golf whenever we get the chance.
What's next for you in terms of new music?
We've taken a couple of meetings with some different producers. We're gearing up to go back in the studio in the fall to make the next Backstreet Boys record. We've got some great surprises for that record which will hopefully be announced on the cruise ship so the fans can look forward to that. We'll probably be back in the studio in mid-October. We're hoping to have a single out next spring and drop the album in the summer of 2012.
What concert do you remember most from your childhood?
Probably, the best summer concert I ever saw—and I know it was the summer time because I was out of school—was The Victory Tour with The Jackson Five at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. I was about six-years-old. I'll never forget the show because my mom's company rented a Greyhound bus and drove us and all of her co-workers to the concert. One of my mom's co-workers was pregnant. She went to use the restroom on the bus, and the door got locked and she couldn't get it open. On the back of the bus, there was a triangular window. They ended up shoving me through the window after the concert to unlock the door to let her out. It was an interesting experience for me [Laughs]. It was pretty awesome. It was a great show from start to finish. I think I might've fallen asleep once because I was young and tired. That's been the highlight. I've seen quite a few concerts since then. I'd say a close second would be The Rascal Flatts concert I saw in Las Vegas.
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