BURGETTSTOWN − Backstreet Boys fans aren’t screaming like they used to.
Oh, those fans are still making a lot of noise, it’s just that their vocal excitement has taken on a lower resonance with age, in addition to having noticeably more guys in the crowd.
“The funny thing is, there are a lot more guys showing up at Backstreet Boys gigs,” said Brian Littrell, one of the original members of the famous boy band.
And it’s not just teens and tweens in the audience, Littrell said, as many parents who grew up with BSB posters on their bedroom walls and eagerly watched the pop group’s videos on ” MTV’s TRL” are now taking their kids to shows.
“A lot of parents bring their kids to show the new generation, ‘Oh, that was your mom’s favorite band growing up,'” Littrell said.
Expect generations to sing and dance to Backstreet Boys hits like “Larger Than Life” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” when Littrell, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, Nick Carter and Howie Dorough bring their DNA World here. Round.
Regional dates include July 5, The Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown; July 6, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland; July 14, Waterfront Music Pavilion, Camden, NJ; July 16, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY; July 19, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ; July 23, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY; and July 24, Bethel Woods Center for The Arts, Bethel, NY
“It’s pretty exciting; we have 32 songs in the set,” Littrell said in a Zoom interview. “Of course there are medleys. We don’t want to keep everyone there for three or four hours. We want to keep your attention.”
To help hype fans, the band posted a “Making of the DNA Tour” video on their YouTube channel, where McLean called it the “perfect” tour. Let’s take the Q&A with Littrell right there.
Q: Can you explain why this visit is perfect?
A: Well, there will be just about every song you can imagine the Backstreet Boys singing. As I said earlier, there are 32 songs in the set. It’s about two hours. Definitely a lot of dancing and high energy. You will see the culmination of almost 30 years of music. And it’s just a lot of fun. If you have the opportunity to come and see it, don’t miss it. We’re going to make you feel like you’re 10, 12 or 15 again. As if you were a little schoolgirl or schoolboy. The funny thing is, there are a lot more guys showing up at Backstreet Boys gigs these days. It’s different.
Q: What do you think?
A: I think they are married. I think they are boyfriends. I think these are guys who liked us 20 years ago, but they were just afraid to like us. They couldn’t really say that publicly (laughs). So I think we’ve stood the test of time. We’ve been around long enough and now they’re like, ‘Man, I think these guys are pretty good’, so we should go see them live. Look, if you’re nearby and have the option to buy a ticket, because I know they sell out pretty quickly, but this really is the perfect storm. To be back on stage live, seeing the smiling faces of fans and singing every word of the song. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Q: What is the fan reaction like? Does it sound like 25 years ago? Are the cries the same?
A: It will always move you. And what I mean by that is that the sound is really so loud that it will literally move you, physically. Your body can feel it hitting your chest. And I love that. It gives us energy on stage to do what we do. It’s not easy to do what we do. You have to prepare your body. But when you talk about the shrill noise of the crowd, it goes down a bit, because we don’t have the same number of 10 and 12 year old girls there. We have children, I say. A lot of parents bring their kids to show the new generation, ‘Oh, that was your mom’s favorite band when she was your age.’ I think that’s a huge compliment. But the cries are not as loud as when they were 10 and 12 years old.
Q: It’s better for your eardrums, isn’t it?
Q: You have always considered yourself a vocal group. Dance and choreography were a secondary element. Is that something you’re going to insist on again on this tour?
A: Totally. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. When you listen to all of our songs, I think they have a certain vocal quality of harmonies and melodies, and they’ve really stood the test of time. They’ve stood above average, I’d say, and we’re proud of the quality, not really the quantity, of the music over time. For us, it’s a joy. There’s a moment in the show where we sing an a cappella song, “Breathe,” it’s on the brand new “DNA” album, so it’s really a standout moment where everyone can say, “Oh, gosh these guys are really good because sometimes these voices get lost in the song and the production and the dance like you said the dance was always like the second element from a show standpoint for us in relation to the singing. And it will always be like that, focused on the singing
Q: Do you have a favorite number on this tour?
A: Man, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. I mean, I love seeing the reactions to “Stop Playing Games” when we’re in front, where there’s a little stage where we’re going to appear on and sing a few songs and be really, really close, in the middle of the ‘audience. As soon as this intro comes, people lose their business. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, I remember this song when I was like sophomore.’ I met a guy a few weeks ago on the golf course and he was like, “Man, I told you you were my first gig.” I loved you when I was in sixth grade. And ‘Quit Playing Games’ was my favorite song.’ And I was like, ‘Man, how old are you?’ And he said, “I just turned 30 last month,” and I was like, “Oh, man, I’ve really aged.” He made me feel old very quickly. (Laughs). So I would say “Stop playing games” just for fan reaction. It’s something that never gets old.
Q: Did any part of you imagine 25 years ago that you would be in your mid-forties with the Backstreet Boys still playing?
A: I always expected that. I think we had it planned and we wanted to do it. And I think we set our goals to be attainable and achievable. We’ve always tried to work for balance outside of the entertainment world. Having families and kids and a normal life, keeping us more grounded and stable, I think. But being a pop star and being on stage in front of the lights can – and will – get the best of you sometimes, when it’s so big that it’s beyond you. But I think our goal, from the very beginning, has always been to stick together through the good and the bad and just focus on our craft and making good, quality music for a long, long time. And as long as we keep doing it, we can do it for as long as we want. I think it’s the greatest feat a band like us could achieve.
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Q: Do you have anything else to say regarding the Backstreet Boys tour or future plans?
A: We have a brand new Christmas album coming this fall. The first time in nearly 30 years that the Backstreet Boys have recorded a Christmas album from start to finish. You’re going to have some of the greatest Christmas classics you can think of, with an old-school twist. Think The Rat Pack meets Boyz II Men. We’re super excited about it. And we’re just thrilled to be back on stage and seeing the smiling faces. We are blessed to be able to do what we do and go to work and do something we love and are passionate about, and nurture ourselves from the fans who give us such happy and warm emotions. There is no better job on the planet.
Scott Tady is entertainment editor at The Times and easy to reach at [email protected].