Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Boys are back in Biloxi - Interview with AJ McLean

Together almost 20 years, Backstreet Boys Nick Carter, Howie Donough, Brian Littrell and AJ McLean have sold more than 76 million records worldwide.

But while probably still best known for their successes in the late 1990s, the band is not standing still.

As they kick off their 37-stop tour of the U.S. and Canada, AJ McLean took time to talk with the Sun Herald recently about what the band is up to and what fans can expect when they appear at the IP in Biloxi on June 4.

What’s life on the road like? Do you love it or hate it?

Life on road, it’s kind of a love-hate relationship. I love what I do, it’s all I know, and I absolutely love being on stage. I love to perform for people. But now you know, I’m getting older, I got engaged, I am starting a life of my own. It’s different — I’ve got my own house, my dogs, and when I’m on the road for too long, it gets a little hard.

When I’m home, I enjoy being in my house. I don’t want to go out. I just veg at my house, work out, play video games and write music, really.

When I’m on the road, I try to take the crew out for golf, or dinner, or do things like that. I’ve really gotten back into photography as a hobby.

I’ll get up in the morning, go out and walk around, especially if it’s a place I haven’t been to before or a place I’ve been to but not really seen, and take my camera, look around, take random pictures of random people and cool stuff. I’d like to put together a coffee table book or something like that.

What’s next for the Backstreet Boys? Another album?

We are going back into the studio in September to work on the next record and we have some pretty big surprises for that — which we can’t talk about just yet, but I’m sure after say, the (June 8) Boston show, people will have an idea about that.

Hmm, that’s cryptic, could it be a collaboration, perhaps?


Or maybe a new sound?

Maybe a little bit of both. We’ve just started talking about what direction we want the next record to go in. You know when you continue to grow, obviously our (fan) demographic now is 25-45, we’re a little older, they’re a little older.

Granted, we still have a lot young people who come to our shows, but our core audience is older, so probably leaning toward a little more of a grown-up sound, maybe a little Eagles-ish. We’re trying to keep that longevity going, permanently putting our feet in the ground and saying, we’re here today, coming up on 20 years, and it’s good.

Who are your influences these days, who are you listening to?

The Temper Trap, One Republic, Muse — a little of everything. I go online and seeing who’s new.

I’m a bit obsessed right now with the one kid, I don’t know his name, the kid that just got the record deal with Ellen DeGeneres, who did Paparazzi. He is sick, he’s amazing. I’m sure we are all gonna know his name soon.

But I’m all over the board. My iPod is all over the map, everything from Enya to Nine Inch Nails to a lot of old Johnny Cash.

It’s crazy, and I try to bring all the sounds I listen to, to bring it into the studio. So if there’s a song that one of us writes, and we listen to it, one of us might say, you know, I see that going more Johnny Cash, or more Prince, or whatever.

When you come together, and you all have your own perspectives, does that mean you have to compromise, you know how they say a compromise means nobody’s happy, or is there a common thread?

Definitely with the rest of the guys there is a common ground. We all have very eclectic selection on our iPods. Like Brian listens to everything from Frank Sinatra to rock and roll, …Black Sabbath, whoever, and that’s why we have a unique sound, because we all bring different elements to the table and we find the common ground.

So what can folks expect when you come to the IP? Is it very different from the old style?

It’s very different from the old stuff. About 85 percent of the show is dancing, start to finish, straight music start to finish, there’re no breaks. We don’t have a band this time; we have four female dancers and a DJ. One of my favorite parts of the show are the four films that we taped and transposed ourselves into — I’m in “Fight Club” and “The Matrix,” Brian’s in the “Enchanted,” Howie’s in “Fast & Furious” — we utilize those films for quick change time, and we changed the dialogue so it’s really funny, and really cool.

It’s a really well-rounded show — we do about three quarters of the new CD, and every one of the “Chapter 1 Greatest Hits”.

Be prepared for an absolutely amazing kick-a-- show, and thanks for all the love and support for all the years.

We are anxious to come to Biloxi for this show — bring the whole family out and get ready for two hours of entertainment.