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Boys no more!

HIGHWAY TO FAME No longer in the back street!

HIGHWAY TO FAME No longer in the back street!  

The Backstreet Boys are back after a five-year hiatus

College students listened to them on their walkmans during lunch breaks, and girls huddled in groups and swapped pictures of them. Backstreet Boys have been one of the most successful international pop acts in India, and are all set to tour the country.

From the debut album in 1997, which featured chart-toppers like Quit Playing Gamesand Everybody, to the 1999 album, Millennium, the boys have had a roller-coaster ride to success. Though their third album Black n'Blue was nowhere close to their debut, in terms of album sales, the boys consolidated their popularity till the release of their greatest hits album in 2001.

Come 2005 and Backstreet Boys bounce back with a new album titled Never Gone. And it seems finally the Boys are coming out of the bubble-gum pop image as the tracks in this album feature them in a more mature, sentimental and powerful frame of mind. Better orchestration, less electronic sounds and more meaningful lyrics stand out in the album. Read on as Kevin, Howie D, AJ, Nick and Brian tell you more.

There has been a break of about five years since your last studio album. In the meantime, other so-called `boy bands' have subtly changed their style of music, by giving it a more Hip-Hop and R &B feel. Any changes, musically that one should expect in "Never Gone" as compared to "Black and Blue"?

Nick: We've all grown up. Our lives have changed. AJ has gone through a lot. I've grown from a 12-year-old boy to a 25-year-old man. Brian started a family. That shows in the music also. We had to grow up in a sense, but at the same time keep it sort of cool and organic in a way that we respect. It's changed, because we're older and the music has changed.

AJ: Everything has changed in my life since I have been sober. We are really enjoying this new album cycle. We bond together now better than before. There was a lot of darkness around Black 'n' Blue tour. We had been touring straight for nine years, so we took a much-deserved break and cleared our heads. Now we are really excited to be making music and touring again.

A recent trend has seen individual members splitting and pursuing their own solo careers, even while the band is active. Does this hamper the music and image of the band?

Kevin: We never really broke up to make a comeback. We just took a break after the Black `n' Blue tour. We always intended to come up with another record somewhere down the line. People thought we had split and gone our individual ways. But we just needed a break from the spotlight for a while. Needed to get a grip on the craziness and hype surrounding the group. That's exactly what we did. The first single, "Incomplete" brings BSB to the forefront after five years. Is there any specific aspect in the song that you want to project?

Nick: All we want is to make our music and put it out there, the rest is up to the fans.

The music of BSB has graduated from feel-good tracks like "Everybody" to "All I Have to Give" to "Drowning". Is "Never Gone" a similar progression?

AJ: The album started out more R&B in February and now the album kind of took shape on a rock pop alternative sort of sound. I think this is the best work we have done yet.

What would be the message to your fans who finally get to hear you now after a long time?

Brian: We're back and really excited about it. Let us know what you think about our new album and new sound.

BSB has a huge fan following in India. Any plans to tour the country?

AJ: We'd love to perform for our fans in India. It's something we've been talking about for a long time. Thank you for your continued support, see you soon.

A. VISHNU

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