Jas from contactmusic.com caught up with New Kids On The Block on a recent visit to the UK for a quick chat with the guys.
CM: First of all, New Kids On The Block, its been 14 years, welcome back guys,
NKOTB: Thank you
CM: What a welcome you guys had at HMV on Monday, 1000 women
NKOTB: It was crazy. It was very surprising, humbling and just, it's a gift man to be able to be back here doing this again after all these years.
CM: Sure, did you guys ever envisage when you were on your way here, I know that you've had a brilliant reaction in America and this is, I believe of your first territories you have come to since you've done the reformation.?
NKOTB: We were in Toronto for a little while and we've already been to Germany and we're going back tomorrow.
CM: How's that been compared to London?
NKOTB: I mean, this is our first, 'push push' so I guess yeah you could say that this is the first territory for promotion. Yeah, the response has been awesome. It's incredible.
CM: Did you guys know they actually had to close the store for about 20 minutes when you were on stage for health and safety reasons?
NKOTB: We read that in the newspaper. It was cool, even performing on that small stage, but it didn't matter man. We were having a blast. It was awesome. Like I can't even remember the last performance we did here, but just to think back and you know, have all that time pass and them girls come out you know cause they really love the music and love us and they're looking forward to the new record is pretty awesome.
CM: Yeah sure. I know you've been asked this a million times today but, still for our own listeners and readers I've gotta ask, What sparked, what Vh1, The MTV Video Music Awards etc.. The millions of people that tried to get you together beforehand for the past 14 years? Was this always the plan? To take a long long rest and then come back? Or was it something that you guys felt like you wanted to do and this was the right time?
NKOTB: There was no plan. There was never a plan to do anything. When we parted ways, there was never, Say ok in 15 years, lets get back together (laughs) No-one could really predict that. And the VH1 and MTV, that was to benefit themselves, you know they weren't gonna try and do anything for us. I'm sure they would have been happy if we would have been a 'train-wreck' cause then that would have been a bigger story. So for us, when we were ready, when we wanted to, and cause we love music, NOT for any other reason.
CM: Yeah and what a first single to come back with guys. (Summertime)
CM: Great, solid urban-crossover record. Was that actually the firs record that you guys actually came back in the studio together with or was it 'Click click click?' or was it something else?
NKOTB: 'Click, click, click' was the first one. Donnie found that through our music attorney and that's kinda what sparked everything. Him kinda sending it around to all of us and to see how we felt about getting back together. 'Summertime' came a little bit late later, we recorded it at Donnie's house. It was with the same writer, Donnie co-wrote the song with him and we recorded very much, like, we did the 'Hangin' Tough' record. With no vocal booth, just kinda, in a room, with headphones on, turn the volume down and it was cool man. We just, ya know, we knocked it out in a couple of days and it ends up being the first single on the record.
CM: Yeah, and it's done really well and a nice video as well to boot.
NKOTB: Well thank you.
CM: apparently it wasn't very summery though, it was quite cold on set, is that right?
NKOTB: FREEZING. It was freezing cold man! Very overcast day in Los Angeles. It was cold, I wasn't so summery! (laughs) but it still came out pretty good.
CM: Yeah it did. Are you guys based in different areas now? Cause Danny, you're based in Miami?
CM: and where are you based now Jon?
Jon: Primarily in Boston.
Danny: But he's homeless right now!
CM: Oh really! Coming up to my next question, I believe the other guys have stayed in the entertainment business, to some degree, and you just went and did your own thing, in 'real estate'
Jon: (nods in agreement)
CM: How's that been for you and what's it like to come back tot this industry after all this time?
Jon: Well, I would have headed in that direction, (real-estate) if 'New Kids' didn't take off. So, it's been great. I mean I've had a really really successful past 14 years doing what I've been doing and just lovin' it. It was just like, I love that, so coming back to this, It was weird and I think out of everybody, I was probably, questioned it the most, in my mind, like, is this something I really wanna get back into. You know, it just... (pauses)
CM: But you decided to.
Jon: Yeah, I decided to and I definitely made the right choice!
CM: Yeah definitely, I mean the whole world, well certainly a billion girls that are happy man, that's for sure which I know you've all seen!
NKOTB: All laugh!
CM: Let's talk more about that album, 17 cuts in total. Plenty of collaborations on there, label-mates on there, such as 'The pussycat dolls' etc and a new label to boot, because before you were on 'Sony.' My favourite cuts from the urban perspective are, the aforementioned 'Summertime' '2 in the morning' and the awesome 'Click click click.' Now from my own research that I did, I believe and what I said earlier on, that's what triggered you to go back and start off again. I've gotta say, I don't what the plans are, but, is there any chance of that being a single. (Click, click, click)
NKOTB: I don't think it'll be a single, for the fact that it was leaked so much on the internet, especially in the States. It was like, there were different versions of it, there's Akon, him doing like a little thing over the track, on the internet. That, would be the only reason. I mean, we would have loved that to have been the first single, and the first song, but, it got leaked, but, it served its purpose. It was almost like, it was a single, ya know and we're gonna do it in the show (tour) and it's definitely a fan favourite. It's one of our favourites and it's a different sound and it's really slick, we love it.
CM: Yeah, definitely. I suppose its now known as a 'street track' almost to 'test the water' and put it out, because obviously now, back then you didn't have 'my space, youtube' etc.. 'Facebook' and now obviously you've got all these different avenues to persevere with, with your music and to 'test it.'
Let's go back to the beginning, 'hangin' Tough' and 'Step by step' sold in excess of 20 million albums each, you know and that was your peak, in terms of record sales. How do you feel the music industry has changed, in that time, to now come back into it?
NKOTB: Ha ha, you cant sell a million records now, that's for sure! I think we're getting asked this question cause we've been away for so long. You know, I mean, but I've made music out of my house (Danny) on a computer and I learned to engineer when the group started, I do it myself, I sit at a computer with a microphone, a guitar and I do it myself, so, we're well aware of all the changes in the business, You know, CD's are almost non-existent, everything's downloads. I download everything! I mean I don't buy CD's anymore. But I download it legally, you know LEGALLY
CM: I-tunes etc,
NKOTB: Yeah. (Agrees) I think it's crazy; my nephew (Jon) downloaded our album illegally before it even came out.
CM: Its unreal isn't it?
NKOTB: I had a lot of girls tell me that too. (Danny) They're like 'I'm sorry, I downloaded it two weeks ago cause I had to hear it, but I bought 3 copies, you know' (Jon agrees as well)
CM: There you go, that's the best of both worlds then isn't it?
NKOTB: Yeah, and it happens to everyone so there's not much you can do about it. You gotta just hope that the fans go out and buy it.
CM: I mean I think that's your perfect reaction almost, because at the end of the day, they are so eager to hear it, because you were their favourite group, and now we've heard it, we were gonna buy it anyway, but we were just so eager to hear it that we just couldn't help ourselves! I think that's a great reaction.
CM; You worked with 'Timbaland' on 'Twisted' I believe, and I think out of all the songs that are on there, that is not only a great contender for a single, I can actually picture you guys doing that live and I think as a pop record, that will be massive.
Danny looks at Jon
CM: Why are you looking at Jon like that?
Danny: I never liked the song, that's just me personally. It's a bit too dancy, too 'happy go lucky.'
CM: Right, back then you guys did a lot of dancing, you guys were crazy on stage, like I was fortunate enough (closet fan)
CM: I was 9 years old and my mum took me to my very first concert, and it was you guys at the London arena, which has now been knocked down. You guys actually did 2 shows in 1 day, because of a 'blackout' on the Friday night so you ended up doing 2 shows on the same day!
NKOTB: I remember that (Danny) It was a long day!
CM: Yeah I bet!
NKOTB: It was fun though. I remember that man! (Danny) But the thing is, we were dancing throughout the whole show. For me its not about that it's a dance song, I just really didn't like it too much. But, within the show, it's really good.
CM: OK, so it is incorporated in the show?
CM: Ok, to your dismay! But its there!
NKOTB: Nah, now, not to my dismay. No, performance-wise it's really good.
CM: Ok, wicked. You announced it at HMV on Monday, but there are still a million people out there that don't know, you have announced tour dates, if you could, for the record, say when you are coming to the UK.
NKOTB: January 16th, we kick off in Manchester and dates following that are going to be at 'The o2' (January 24th) her in London, Cardiff, Sheffield, Nottingham, We've got Glasgow, there's gonna be more dates announced. The same way we did it in America. We announced 10 dates and now it's up to over 50. so hopefully here, the same thing happens and we do a nice long run here.
CM: I' sure it will be! I can't see you guys doing one night in London somehow!
NKOTB: I don't see that either!
CM: I think you had enough people on Monday, for one night in London! You've got the tour starting in America in just over a week's time I believe, what was it like, not only to get back in the studio, but the rehearsals, the rigorous training, (what people don't see behind the scenes?) How was that for you guys, after all this time? As a group, how did you guys find it?
NKOTB: It was pretty seamless, you know. We were all pretty much, in good shape, but I know rehearsals and stuff, we all started going to the gym and I know I started jogging 3 times a week so I could keep my breath up.(Jon) And we built on it, we didn't go in with a 2 hour show, you know or 1.5 hour show, you know (Danny teases)
Danny to Jon: What are you tryna say Jon?
Jon: We built on it. It was like a good training session you know.
CM: Good. The last album, 14 years ago, tracks such as 'Dirty Dawg' was received well with the urban crowd especially, when you worked with the genius 'Teddy Riley' and I know you've worked with him again for 1 cut on this album. How did that collaboration come back together? Did you just call him up?
NKOTB: No, what happened was, we were rehearsing for a short period of time across the street from the record company, so constantly people were coming over, which kinda wasn't good, but was good, cause we met a lot of good people that got involved with the project from talking to us and Teddy was one of them. He came by, physically put a CD in and played that song and we were like, 'Yo, we gotta have this' and a few days later it was done. And then they got Nicole (from the Pussycat Dolls) on it, you know, it's a hot track. For us, it's like to kinda, we felt like the work he did with us, didn't get appreciated as it should have, for a lot of reason out of our control. But now there's a chance for people to hear it again. (on that track)
CM: Cool. And is that 'Grown man?'
NKOTB: Grown man, yeah.
CM: Is that gonna be a single?
NKOTB: We're taking it one at a time!
CM: You see where I'm going here!
NKOTB: The next single is 'Single' with Ne-Yo
CM: I've backed him for the past 4 years. He's a tremendous guy. I've interviewed him 4 or 5 times and I'm very lucky to have an affiliation with his people and when someone told me 'New Kids are back' I thought, I wonder if they'll work with Ne-yo, and now I've just seen the video on Monday, when you put the album out. Where did you do, the video? Was it in Vegas?
NKOTB: In Vegas baby! I've been a fan of his (Danny) you know since he came out, so, when we heard the song, we were like 'Yo, we gotta have this song' We recorded the song, then he heard the song and was like, 'Yo, we gotta make this a duet.' An were like 'Alright!' You know, there couldn't have been anyone better, where he is right now in his career and how he approaches it, very much like us, in a Ol' skool way, but in a contemporary way at the same time!
CM: Yeah, Last question for you, in terms of marketing, they did everything to market you guys back in the day. You know, the dolls, a cartoon, was there anything, where you thought, you know what, now you're pushing the limits and we're not gonna endorse this?
NKOTB: Well there was plenty. There was plenty, you could go through a list of things, you probably think is ridiculous, we probably would agree with you, you know? And what ended it up happening, is we parted ways with Maurice Starr (founder of the group) and our manager, so had to buy them out. So, we bought the name, back from them, and it was the best thing we ever did because look at now, we're in complete control of everything. You know, its just, that was kinda the down side of it. We were on tour so much, we were young, we didn't know what were doing, but now, we bring all that knowledge this time around, and none of that stuff is going on. It's all directly within the group, all those decisions are being made.
CM: Sure, do you think that you guys were slightly ahead of your time?
NKOTB: Well, I think maybe yeah, because look what happened after us, over here especially. In the music business we had a much bigger impact over here, because boy bands have never really gone away over here. There's a constant resurgence of new groups coming out and in America it took a little bit of time, so maybe we were ahead of our time, maybe them guys were just too slow to come out, I don't know.
CM: Or maybe, you guys, just had good records, that still sound good today and that's it!
NKOTB: We'll agree with that! (Laughs) Why not!
CM: Seriously, some of it 'wasn't my bag' but I can appreciate good music man and 'Step by Step' 'The right stuff' 'My favourite girl' which was the first song they were singing at HMV on Monday, which you opened with on the 'Hangin' Tough' tour. (again, closet fan)
NKOTB: (Laughs) You know what's funny about that song? We opened up with that song for a long time and when we stopped opening with it, the show went downhill man!
CM: There you go!
NKOTB: It went down.
CM: Listen guys, thanks for taking time out to talk to us. We really appreciate it.
NKOTB: No problem man, thank-you.
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