Pop with staying power
Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Britan Littrell, and A.J. McLean - a.k.a. the Backstreet Boys - release their seventh album, “This Is Us,’’ today. Filled with dance floor and bubble pop confections courtesy of hitmakers like RedOne, T-Pain, and old Swedish friend Max Martin, it’s the boy band’s best effort since its boffo ’90s heyday. On the eve of the album release we chatted with Dorough by phone from New York. “Hopefully,’’ he says, “this record will finally put a stamp in people’s minds that we’re sticking around.’’
Q. “This Is Us’’ is very uptempo and contemporary. Was that the mission statement?
A. We absolutely loved the last two records, but we noticed when taking the albums to the stage it didn’t really represent what the Backstreet Boys are known for, and that’s our signature pop melodies, R&B-influenced dance stuff, our “big show’’ kind of songs. So this time we made a conscious effort - because we still feel like we can dance onstage and we’re not 50 years old yet - to make a record that has some tempo to it.
Q. It’s been 15 years since you signed your contract with Jive. Did you think you’d still be doing this?
A. It’s kind of crazy. I think we’d always hoped and dreamed and I’m still hoping and dreaming it goes on for 15-plus more years. It’s one of those things where you just never know where life is going to take you and your career. And we’ve been able to ride this roller coaster on the fast pace as well as the slower pace, and I’m just very thankful we’re the last ones still standing.
Q. What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
A. I wish I would’ve known the music industry was going to turn and go south so far in the last five years (laughs.) I think we would’ve planned a little bit differently. But I think that everything happens for a reason and it makes us who we are.
Q. So are you saying you would’ve saved more of that lunchbox money?
A. Maybe my partners would’ve saved a little bit more. (Laughs.) I’m very lucky; at the height of everything I invested, invested, invested.
Q. Stocks? Real estate?
A. I did really well in real estate.
Q. In “I Want It That Way,’’ what exactly is “it’’?
A. (Laughs.) That’s what’s called getting a bunch of Swedish pop writers to write a smash hit song but unfortunately English is not their first language. So you definitely get lost in translation. I tried to make heads or tails out of it myself as well. We actually had a rewrite on the song by [producer] Mutt Lange with Max [Martin], and the song made so much sense, but it totally lost the feeling, so we went back to the original.