The Backstreet Boys are the bestselling and one of the most enduring boy bands of all time. They have a new album out titled This Is Us, and I caught up with Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough from his hotel room in New York City October 5, 2009, the day before album release.
Bill: Great to talk to you today. You just got back from Japan?
Howie: We sure did. We actually just got back from doing some promotion over in Japan as well as we were over there doing the Formula 1 race over in Singapore. So, yeah, we've just been gone out of town for like 12 days. A little bit of promotion as well as we shot the video over in Japan for our next single from the album which is "Bigger."
Bill: Speaking of the new album, what should fans be looking for when it comes out tomorrow?
Howie: I think this is going to be an album that everybody will listen to and think, "Wow, that's the Backstreet Boys we've known for so long." That's why we titled it This Is Us...The last two records we kind of went into this departure. We kind of went into this pop-rock sound which at the time we were really feeling especially after taking our break. We came back, and we were all big fans of, like, Coldplay and Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty and stuff like that. So we kind of felt like, "Let's try exploring this direction here," and after making the record, which we were all very excited about and we all loved the record...Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put those records down, but what happened was that we noticed that when we took the music to the stage it didn't really translate for the type of group that we are. You know, people have known us for a group that is very entertaining and dance and sing, moving around, high energy and stuff like that. Those songs didn't really lend themselves. They really didn't have much tempo to them, and the fact that we didn't all play instruments it just didn't feel like the right direction we were going in. This record here we purposefully went out of our way to make it more of what people have known of the Backstreet Boys. Songs that are pop, R&B, influenced with a little bit of a Euro-dance feel to them. So this album here we can pretty much take every song to the stage and feel very comfortable with performing it and entertaining people with it.
Howie: That was an amazing experience. RedOne is, besides being on fire right now with Sean Kingston and Lady GaGa, he is just an unbelievable, amazing guy. He is so talented. Coincidentally, he 's from Sweden, originally from Morocco, but lived in Sweden around the time that we were coming out in Sweden with all of the greatest hits from the Swedish camps that we were working with over there. He never got a chance to get on any of the records at the time, because we were pretty much locked in with this certain camp, but he always told us he was a big fan and very supportive...so it's so great that we were finally able to work with him. He knew our sound completely. He's been able to help us resurge the uptempo songs to people.
Bill: What was it like to work with Max Martin again?
Howie: Max, it was great to be able to rekindle that relationship we have with him. Things never went wrong with it. It was just the last record it was hard for him to figure out which direction to take us. He didn't want to get involved unless he thought that he was able to give 100% and have a plan. So we worked with him again on this record and it was so awesome, because he's pretty much been the mastermind for all of our biggest hits from the early days to now. Such an amazing talented guy, and just a really cool friend. He's like the fifth Backstreet Boy.
Bill: The new single "Bigger" is one of the songs with Max Martin?
Howie: That is correct. That is the next single we've chosen. It's such a great song. If you listen to it, it's a traditional Backstreet Boys song. People when they hear it will think, "Ah, that's our guys."
Bill: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Howie: My favorite choice on the album is a song called "Bye Bye Love." It's an uptempo song. It was done by Claude Kelly who is right now really doing well in the states. He did the "Circus" song for Britney Spears as well as he did Kelly Clarkson's first single ("My Life Would Suck Without You"), and he is just on fire as well. It's an uptempo song a la Chris Brown's "Forever," Ne-Yo's "Closer." Kind of like that Euro-dance pop R&B feel.
Bill: You've been singing with the Backstreet Boys for 16 years, what's the secret to the group's long-term survival?
Howie: (laughs) I guess we're like the last boy band standing of our era people say. I think the success has just been teamwork. This is a team. There's no one lead person in this group singing-wise or personality-wise. We all came into this, believe it or not, from five solo backgrounds. At the same time we came in knowing that there is something that each of us brings to the table, and our individual strengths have really been able to help us. Our biggest thing is that we communicate with each other. We definitely don't have everyday is peaches and cream, but we communicate with each other, and we know that when things are right or wrong we can communicate about that. We all want the best for each other. We all want to win. We're all very competitive and just want to still succeed.