Backstreet boys

The Backstreet Boys keep their eyes on the long haul

You may not know it, but the Backstreet Boys remain very popular.

The quintet that sold 50 million albums worldwide during the boy band craze of the late 1990s and early 2000s not only continue to record together, but are topping the charts. The Backstreet Boys’ 2019 LP “DNA” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and to back it up, the band are embarking on their most extensive world tour in nearly 20 years.

This tour makes a stop at SPAC on Saturday. And for singer Brian Littrell, the Backstreet Boys’ longevity and success was exactly the shape and scope of his ambitions.

“To be honest, having a long career is something I’ve always dreamed of,” he said. “The entertainment business can chew you up and spit you out quickly. In 1993 when the Backstreet Boys formed, the number one goal was to make quality music and have a real career together.

“You have to consider everything, the effort, the time and the focus that it takes to be able to have such a huge impact on people’s lives,” Littrell continued. “It’s something we’ve worked incredibly hard for. So maybe the song should be “Backstreet’s Here to Stay”, not “Backstreet’s Back”.

Littrell knows it’s rare for a band like the Backstreet Boys to last much longer than a few years. He points out that the focus on quality, from the beginning of the group until today, is one of the main reasons for this.

“When the Backstreet Boys formed in 1993, we were sort of following in the footsteps of New Kids on the Block, but we grew up listening to New Edition and Boyz II Men,” Littrell said. “We could dance and sing and have pretty faces, but we wanted to be a vocal group with a long career. To achieve the things you want to be successful at, you have to put in some quality time and effort and now that we’ve overcome the hurdle, we’re not going to leave.

“We always talk about quality over quantity whenever we do something,” he added. ‘DNA’ is our 10th album and it’s awesome from top to bottom, a quality album that we know stands the test of time. We’re so proud of it, we said, ‘let’s tour and give the fans what they want.’ If you have the chance to see it, don’t miss it. We play 32 songs, everything our fans want to hear.

The other major factor in the Backstreet Boys’ longevity is the bond within the group. It’s still the same five guys and when Kevin Richardson left from 2006 to 2012, the band recorded and played as a quartet instead of finding a replacement.

Between that continuity and the maturity that comes with age, Littrell said he felt they were better friends and artists now than during their time as a pop culture juggernaut.

“We were kids when we started; now we are all fathers and husbands,” he said. “The momentum is now as close as it has ever been in the past 30 years. People might say, ‘Oh, he’s lying,’ but that’s the honest truth to God.

“Today I could call any of the guys at three or four in the morning and talk about something and that wasn’t the case 20 or 30 years ago,” Littrell noted. “We are emotionally and physically closer now. With success, there can be a lot of problems. People split up and do their own thing. It’s something unusual for a group like ours to stay together for so long.

There was a time when Littrell wasn’t even sure he wanted to be part of something that long. The staggering success of Backstreet Boys and the burdens that come with it were overwhelming and left him wondering what he wanted from his career.

“If I could go back, I would tell myself not to be so critical of myself and not take everything seriously,” he said. “We were young men growing up, working hard, working so hard and me, being too critical, hurt my ability to enjoy it. There was a lot of stress, pressure, we were so big between 1999 and 2002 and I didn’t get anything out of it.

“We were young and people were pulling us in different directions, I got married and thought I’d move on and start a family,” Littrell continued. “The ‘Millennium’ and ‘Black and Blue’ albums (which sold 39 million copies worldwide) and the tours were so successful that it put a lot of pressure on us. I just didn’t know if I wanted my career to go in that direction.

The Backstreet Boys slowed their pace after the release of “Black and Blue” in 2000, waiting five years before releasing another album, the multi-platinum “Never Gone.” The time away from the relentless cycle of recording and touring has allowed Littrell to “get out of it and get excited” about the band and appreciate their devoted fans more than ever.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find fans who grow old with any band, not just ours,” he said. “I was recently stopped by an elderly lady at the market and she said to me, ‘Brian, you have been the soundtrack to my daughter’s life and my life.’

“It got me thinking about how ‘Wow, our music is generational; “There are two or three different generations of Backstreet Boys fans who have latched onto our music and shared their memories with us,” Littrell added. “How else can anyone compliment your work more than that? ?”

street boys

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 23

Where: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Route 50, Saratoga Springs

Tickets: $29 to $189.50 For more information: www.spac.org