CNN — For AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, pursuing a solo career doesn’t mean he has to walk away from the band he played with for nearly 30 years.
“Everything goes together. If I have a successful album, it just reflects my success with the band, where I started and where I will always go back,” McLean told CNN en Español via Zoom.
The music industry has witnessed time and time again how bands like *NSYNC or One Direction broke up for good after one or more members continued their own endeavors, breaking hearts around the world. . But McLean said that when it comes to BSB, which has been doing well since 1993, “even though I have the most successful solo period, I’m still not going anywhere.”
“This is my house,” he said. “That’s where I belong. But I don’t see any problem with having the best of both worlds.”
This unity and knowing that they have each other’s backs has given them the confidence to explore other avenues. Kevin Richardson, who left the group for six years from 2006 to 2012, did Broadway; Brian Littrell made a Christian album and Howie Dorough released a children’s record. During this time, Nick Carter has been in movies, released several solo albums, and teamed up with New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight for their Nick & Knight duet.
“The number one priority among us five is Backstreet Boys, which is at the epicenter,” he said. “And, some of us, not all of us, aspire to do things outside of the band.”
Earlier this month, McLean released “Smoke,” the lead single from his upcoming album “Sex and Bodies.”
The song is inspired by Prince and George Michael and incorporates funky falsetto vocals that contrast with the singer’s signature raspy voice. The song celebrates love and how a relationship should be “as easy as blowing smoke,” McLean said.
“No pun intended, but I lit a cigarette and I was like, you know, sometimes relationships can be as simple as blowing smoke,” he said. “Like, it’s also easy if that person is the right one. That’s kind of what inspired the title.”
“Sex and Bodies” will be McLean’s second solo album and is set for release in early 2023.
“I keep saying it’s an amazing record. I’m so proud of it. And even though ‘Smoke’ is an amazing record, it’s still not the best record on the album.”
McLean is currently touring the United States with the Backstreet Boys. The successful second leg of the DNA World Tour shows just how strong the Backstreet Boys are after three decades.
“The rest of the tour is sold out. Europe is sold out. Latin America is sold out,” McLean said. “It’s a testament to each other. It’s a testament to our fans and it’s a testament to the music.”
He added, “I’m honored to say I’m a Backstreet Boy, and I’m proud to be a Backstreet Boy in 2022.”
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