Donnie Wahlberg defends Justin Bieber, says New Kids on the Block is more successful than ever

The actor says when he was younger he didn’t appreciate his fans like he does now.

Donnie Wahlberg stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Wednesday to chat about Boston tough guys, Wahlburgers, and how he considers New Kids on the Block to be more successful today than the ‘90s.

Colbert roped Wahlberg into chatting about NKOTB by showing a picture of him crowd-surfing during one of the yearly NKOTB Cruises, joking that it was hard to see Wahlberg amongst all the 38-year-old women.

“We have the best fans,” Wahlberg said. “My fans from New Kids on the Block days, way back in the days who were 8, 9, and 10 and are now in their 30s and what have you, they’ve stuck by me and my bandmates forever.

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“We still tour every year,” Wahlberg continued. “We played Madison Square Garden a summer ago and Boston Garden, and we travel all over the world. [We] are really more successful — at least spiritually now, and with our fans and our relationship with our fans now — than we were all those years ago.”

When Colbert asked what he meant by “spiritually successful,” Wahlberg invoked the name of a more current popstar.

“We appreciate it more,” Wahlberg said. “When you’re young and thrust into the spotlight, you’re not really prepared for it. Nobody’s prepared for it. A kid like Justin Bieber, he had no idea what he’s getting into.You want this thing and you get it, and you don’t really know how to deal with the pressures. Especially if you come from a dysfunctional Irish Catholic family with nine kids and a Schlitz-drinking Dad.”