"Backstreet Boys". For anyone who was around in the 90's and even early 2000's, these two simple words together mean everything. And for girls like myself from this era, these two words mean one of five guys to whom we each pretended would be our future husbands one day. Brian, Nick, AJ, Howie, and Kevin have not only helped define and establish the term "boy band", but together, they created a phenomenon that was seen, admired, and loved all around the world. Since the days of boy bands and pop princesses ruling the universe, the world of music has changed with the likes of DJs becoming world-renown artists that sell out stadiums and angelic voices like Sam Smith and Adele becoming the new Kings & Queen of music.
Groups fall apart, singers fade away, yet the Backstreet Boys throughout all of these changes and turns and twists have remained to stay (and continually come back). With tours around the world with New Kids On The Block and a new album in the works, these five guys that once dominated the charts are now coming back and reminding the world why they're here to stay-- for good.
With their new documentary Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of that just premiere on VOD on January 30th, these five guys take us all into the ins & outs of their lives, reminiscing on wounds from the past (like their manager Lou Pearlman who is now behind bars for running a huge Ponzi scam on the band's earnings), as well as reflecting on the uncertain future and learning to become one as a band again since Kevin's to the group in April.
I had the pleasure of taking part of an exclusive press conference here in Los Angeles just last week where I got to help interview the five now fathers and husbands about their past as a boy band, their process and ins and out of filming this documentary, and what it's like to be grown men in a "boy band."
For the old Backstreet Boys fans & new, what's relevant about this documentary today that would be relevant 20 years ago?
Brian: The story wouldn't really be there if we made it 20 years ago. To live and learn you have to grow, unfortunately and fortunately, we've gone from little boys to grown men now in this business with social media and everything that has changed within the past 5-10 years. Again, we wouldn't be the people we are today without all the bad and good times in the roller coasters we've been on in these past years. And I don't think we would change any of it if you were to ask us, it's apart of our history and livelihood and as individuals. And hopefully it just keeps getting better.
Nick: It's all apart of the fans' lives as well and what's relevant is that we share it all together. They've seen our lives really on a surface level through TV and music videos, and now they get to see us through a behind the scenes look from all those years packed into one film.
Stephen (filmmaker): You're also seeing a story of a 20-something year old career when there are bands out there that aren't even 20 years old themselves yet.
You guys have paved the way for other boy bands that have been around, yet they come and go and don't really last as long as you guys have. What would be your advice to a band like One Direction?
AJ: They're obviously doing quite quite well and don't need the advice of their seniors. But my advice would be to just really stay on their own paths. We really treaded waters as much as we could and tried to stay on our own paths. We never swayed left or right or really went too far out of our comfort zone because there was something that worked. There was a true Backstreet Boys sound and vibe that worked. If it wasn't this five, it wouldn't work. We're friends, we're family. We've been through highs and lows together, and this whole journey and this whole film is a true testament to our fans and to one another. So to any groups that come and go and are still here, stay on your own path and have fun... and get a good lawyer :) Also, be really good to your fans. Stop and take pictures with them, even if you're not having a good day. A little bit goes a long way.
Nick: Less of an advice and more of warning-- make sure you guys stick together because if you don't, you don't get to experience what we're experiencing altogether 20 years later. If you don't stick together and play as a team, it will all go away and you will be sitting back and wishing you were in this position.
What was the hardest part of the documentary to watch or the hardest memory to revisit?
AJ: I think obviously the Lou stuff is still to this day a bit of a sensitive subject for some of us. Some of us have made inner peace with it and some of us have not yet. You know, you can always forgive but you can't really forget. It's always going to be apart of us, we're always going to be grateful and thankful for Lou. We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Lou. And I think going back home and really digging up some of our old personalities, our old upbringing, and really seeing each other for who we are and why we tick the way we tick was important. We all knew where each of us were born but never physically went and felt the emotion from each other. And that was kind of towards the end of making this documentary. Kevin made the suggestion to go back home and we went everywhere in five days. It was a lot of emotions and very therapeutic, and I think we learned a lot more about each other that we didn't know these 20 past years. And I think it actually made us stronger and made us much more of a band.
When seeing this film, we can see the bond between you guys is very strong. What do your wives think about this film?
AJ: It's really funny, I talked to my wife this morning after the morning news interview we did and she told me she was getting teary eyed. And I thought to myself that the interview we did this morning wasn't that emotional, so I asked her "really, why?" She's been around with me for the last six years and she's become family-- as all of our wives and each of us have become family. So she said "I know you guys now. And to see the five of you, you are great, honest, and loyal men and treat your families great. And to see what you've gone through and to see that you've persevered is very emotional. You could have very easily thrown in the towel and you didn't." I'm looking forward to when my little girl is old enough to understand what's going on and watch the movie and to be like 'If you really want to see what Daddy went through, pop in the DVD.' And show her Daddy's life. It's really been a great experience to reminisce and to rekindle that flame again and to be passionate again. And to know that we have 20 more years in us, easily. As long as we're having fun, the music's there, and the fans want us around, we're going to do this as long as we can, with the great support of our family, wives, and kids.