Interview: Backstreet Boys
Mon, 17 Aug 2009 10:27:53
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"We're busy, busy boys," says A.J. McLean.
That's an understatement. In fact, the Backstreet Boys are busier now than ever. You don't get to be one of the biggest pop acts of all-time by resting on your laurels. They're prepping the release of their next album, This Is Us due out October 6, 2009, and they're rehearsing for a whole slew of tour dates. Everything also looks like it's going to be as monolithic as ever with BSB enlisting a who's who of producers for the album and plotting a stage show that's bound to blow away even the most rabid of BSB-initiated.
Right now, Backstreet Boys are focused on honing those sweet dance moves and getting their voices in shape for what's bound to be the tour of their career. As always, they're pulling out all the stops for fans. In between working on the set, A.J. McLean spoke to ARTISTdirect.com about This Is Us, the band's next live evolution, working with T-Pain and so much more for this exclusive interview.
He and the Boys redefine "busy," and here's why…
How's rehearsal been?
It's been good. We're in dance rehearsal now, and we're in the middle of our third week. We're just pressing through.
At what point does it become "automatic" again?
It's funny you mention that because it feels like it's starting to now. It took us a couple of weeks to build up our stamina and get back into the swing of things. We haven't had dance rehearsal in awhile. Shit, it was almost eight months ago [Laughs]. It's taken some time to get acclimated again and get the cobwebs off, but things are going really well right now. Everyone is really in good spirits, and the new choreography looks really good.
How do you feel like you guys have evolved as performers since the last record cycle and tour?
There are a couple of different pieces to that. For starters, we've gotten older. Our views of each other and the business are a little different. But I think the fact that we've stayed friends and we've stayed happy for so long is what keeps us going. We also have the best fans in the entire world. They keep us fueled. We've been so fortunate to have fans all over the world. It's not just in the U.S. or in one territory, but everywhere.
In terms of the music you're making, where are you guys at on This Is Us?
In my opinion, for this generation, This Is Us is comparable to Millenium. That's a big thing for us to say, but there are so many great hit songs on this record. We're fortunate enough to have them. When you're sitting around a table with your management, your record company, your publicist and all of your boys and you can't pick a first single because there are too many great songs, that's amazing. It's a good problem to have.
How was collaborating with T-Pain and RedOne?
That was awesome! Hopefully, we haven't made ourselves look like a bunch of asses [Laughs] and we'll be able to keep these relationships going further and into the future for many more records to come. Red was a really humble, down-to-earth guy. He was very quiet, but he's funny as hell! T-Pain is the total opposite. Pain is all over the map. He's a crazy, funny and fun guy. He always wants to party—work, work, work, party, party, party. He's also a baby though. He's only 24-years-old.
Has your creative process changed at all with this album?
We're good at doing what we always do. The most random and different thing that we're doing only applies to collaborating with new producers. Each of us goes in and sings the entire song down top to bottom just so that new producer can hear everyone's voice. Then we go back to the song and he says, "Okay, this is the outline I've got. Nick's on the first half of the first verse; then Brian. Then we're going to put A.J. on the chorus and go back to Nick." That's how it we're doing it now, which is really sexy. It makes things go by a lot faster.
It's like piecing together a puzzle but knowing the vision of what it's supposed to be. How's the live show going to change? Is there anything you haven't done yet?
I guess you'll just have to wait and see [Laughs]. There will be a lot of amazing stuff on this brand new tour. We're actually tying up a couple loose ends with some ideas we cam together with and we're making them all happen. It's going to be a very entertaining, true Backstreet Boys show.
Is it cool to see your fans bringing their kids to shows?
That's awesome to us because we're like a brand new group to these kids. It's like a reinvention. It's starting a rebirth of Backstreet Boys fans which is awesome.
It's something the parents and kids can share.
Exactly! It is a positive show with positive music. It's nothing vulgar or profane. It's a family affair.
The show is a good getaway for people to forget their problems for two hours.
Is there a cinematic element to your shows?
I never felt that way. I grew up in musical theater, so for me it was kind of like doing a play—especially with this new tour. The entire show is not scripted so to speak, but we've hired on a director for it. It's going to have more of a play-ish vibe to it as far as the flow goes. But it's still going to be packed full of energy and dancing—what you expect from Backstreet Boys. In between that, we'll be acting stuff out. It's definitely going to be a different tour for us. As we grow and our fans grow, we have to keep pushing the envelope and setting the bar again. Let's all come together and reach for brand new goals. If those goals entail pushing the envelope, whether it's vocally, musically, production-wise, stage-wise, album-wise—we do it!