The Backstreet Boys are well and truly back.
But it took them a little longer to get here than they probably expected.
The multi-platinum “boy band” – featuring Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson – actually kicked off their DNA World Tour in May 2019.
Then the pandemic hit in early 2020 and the band was forced to postpone — and then reschedule — many concert dates.
Now, more than three years after the start of the DNA World Tour, the Backstreet Boys are finally returning to Northern California to perform three great shows.
We had the chance to chat with Littrell about the road show, which will take place August 6 at the Toyota Amphitheater in Wheatland, August 7 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View and August 9 at the Concord Pavilion. For more information on the show, visit backstreetboys.com.
Q: What was it like getting back on the DNA tour after such a long break?
A: Well, that’s different. It was really hard for our bodies to get back to rehearsals. When you’ve been sitting at home for more than two years, it’s tough. We got our bodies back in place and ready after rehearsals and ready to go.
Our goal with this tour and the show is just to re-solidify what the Backstreet Boys have been doing for almost 30 years. It’s just good quality music — good quality entertainment.
It keeps us really young, to be on stage. And it also keeps us fit. So when you don’t do it for two years, your body goes out of whack.
It’s good to be back. Backstreet is back. No pun intended, but – okay!
Q: OK, give me the dirt. Which Backstreet Boy needed the most work to get back into shape after two years?
A: Oh, man, you’re looking for me to throw someone under the tour bus.
Q: Yes please.
A: I think you’d get a consistent answer across the board if you asked everyone – and I think even Kevin would admit that. Kevin just turned 50 last October. Yes, he’s a Backstreet Boy, but he’s 50 years old. Who would have ever thought that a member of a boy band would turn 50?
It has been difficult for all of us. But, at the same time, I think he would be the first to admit and jump up and say, yeah, it was hard on his body. He was a little overweight before rehearsals and he told everyone. He said, “I have to lose weight.” And he did. By the time we got to the first show in Las Vegas, he had lost many, many pounds.
Q: In the darkness of the pandemic, before the creation of the COVID vaccines, did you ever feel that not only might this tour not happen – but the tour, in general, might be over?
A: To be honest with you, Jim, there was a time probably in the middle of 2021 when there were just a lot of questions left to answer. At that time, everyone was really looking at his life and his career choices and going, “Hmmm. I never thought this could be possible or be a reality.
I wouldn’t say I ever thought it would be gone – completely, completely forever. I had hoped that things would somehow get back to normal and that we could all share live music again.
I think it’s a must. I think concerts, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings, things where you can gather – even in church – you have to do those things for your social life.
I really missed it.
Q: You weren’t the only one. I’m sure your fans are thrilled that the Backstreet Boys are back on the road.
A: We are blessed to do what we do and love it and be passionate about it for so long and to be the soundtrack to so many people’s lives for so long. It’s a great feeling to have this opportunity to be back.
Q: How has the crowd changed over the years?
A: The public is really the same. The only difference I’ve experienced over the years is that there are more guys coming to Backstreet Boys gigs than there used to be.
I would say husbands and boyfriends, who maybe were afraid to love us back in high school. But they’re kind of like, ‘Oh, man, these guys held on, and they stuck together, and they’re still making great music, so we’ll support them.’
These guys show up and sing every song and every word.
Q: And I’m right there with them, especially when you’re playing “Quit Playing Games (with My Heart)” – which I think is one of the greatest pop ballads of the last 30 years.
A: The funny thing about this song, in particular, is that we recorded this song around 3am in Stockholm, Sweden, and we cut it in about two hours. It was just kind of that last-minute throwaway song that popped up on the album and turned out to be one of the biggest hits the Backstreet Boys are known for.
This song “Quit Playing Games” is really the one that put us on the map in America and around the world. So, we’re grateful for those few hours it took in the studio at 3am.
Q: I also admire what you’ve accomplished outside of the Backstreet Boys. You probably could have gone in a lot of different directions with your solo career, so what made you decide to record contemporary Christian music?
A: There’s nothing more rewarding than doing what I do, but also pointing someone in a different direction. I’m not really pointing them at me, or the artist per se, but the reason you make music.
For me, having grown up singing in church as a little boy, I promised myself a long time ago that if I ever got the chance to do a solo record, this would be what it would be. It would be contemporary Christian music, gospel music – basically my flair, or my touch, on what touches me musically.
I grew up listening to guys like Michael English and Sandy Patty and Michael W. Smith. These people were like musical milestones in my life, growing up singing in church.
Q: You would have kept this promise in 2006 with the release of the first solo album “Welcome Home”.
A: No one but God allowed this to happen. God has multiplied my audiences all over the world. But he also expects a lot of me to be the character and the man that I am and to stand up for something that I believe in and not be afraid of what the world may say.
That’s just my pitch, man. That’s what I do. This is who I am. And that’s what I will always be.