Thursday, June 3, 2010


Backstreet Boy A. J. McLean discusses the band's growth and his own new lease on life 

After 16 years together, the Backstreet Boys are still cranking out albums and loving every minute of it.
The band will perform at Wolf Trap's Filene Center in Vienna on June 9.

For the few fans who lost touch, it might appear that not much has changed with the iconic boy band--but their dedicated followers know better.

For starters, there are no more "boys" in the band; they are full-grown men with families of their own. "There's Backstreet Dads!" exclaimed member A.J. McLean, during a recent phone interview.

"Brian [Littrell's] little boy is going to be 8, and he's starting second grade, which is just weird."

Indeed, things have changed. Howie Dorough has a 1-year-old; Nick Carter can usually be found at the gym; and McLean is recently engaged.

Perhaps the biggest deviation is that founding member Kevin Richardson left the group to focus on his family.
"Initially it was a little weird--we had to re-block the actual live shows and figure out who would sing his part.

But once we started doing show after show without him, it kind of became the norm," explained McLean.
"This is the new face of the Backstreet Boys, but the door is always open if he wants to come back."

The Backstreet Boys are currently promoting their seventh studio album, "This Is Us," which features tracks by old friends, like Swedish hit-maker Max Martin, and new friends, like Miami rapper Pitbull.

"[The album] is a testament to who we are. It's going back to the grass roots of the pop/R&B sound, the ballads and dance tempos and mid-tempos," said McLean.

"It's the closest to who we were and who we want to be. There are still some elements from the past, but with a more updated style. Yet, there are also songs like 'Undone' and 'This Is Us' that are kicking off the new sound and the future of the Backstreet Boys."

According to McLean, the group works hard to please old and new fans alike, and the fact that their core demographic has changed doesn't escape them.

"Our fans are older and have families of their own, and they're bringing their kids to the shows, and a lot more guys are coming now that they're older and not in high school where it wasn't cool to like the Backstreet Boys.

Looking out into the audience you see this huge age range from 5 to 85. We just try to make music for the masses and we don't really discriminate--it's for everyone."

Though the fan base is older, McLean is quick to point out that the hysteria still lives.
"It's weird, you'd think it wouldn't be as crazy, but I think it's even crazier now because our fans can drink at our shows. But they're still doing the crazy stuff they did when they were 16."

Despite all the mania, there's at least one person who's a little less crazy: A.J. McLean. Several years ago, McLean--the "rebel" of the group--entered rehab.

"I'm definitely a lot more wise today than I was 10 years ago. I did my little stint of "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," but I don't regret any of it. I think it needed to happen for me to get to know who I am better," McLean explained.

"I don't want to go down that road that I went before. I can't. My body won't let me do the crazy stuff I used to do."

Sixteen years later, it's safe to say that all the members of the Backstreet Boys have experienced their own form of personal growth--and according to McLean, it's a critical factor to the group's creative process.

"Now that we're older we can talk about things a little more than we used to. Not every song has to be about love--it can be about serious issues. It's not all daffodils and roses."

As for this summer's tour and beyond, McLean mysteriously hints at the unexpected. "We have some interesting surprises in store for our fans and the media next year. It's going to make people's heads turn."