Over the past two years, the Backstreet Boys have made what, at first glance, seemed like an unlikely foray into country music. But they soon discovered an audience that was similar – and in some cases exactly the same – to the massive crowds they drew during their reign in the late Nineties and early 2000s.
Next year they'll look to capitalize on that reality with a new album, which the band says will have some country influence.
"When news came out we were collaborating with FGL, my Twitter feed and Facebook feed was all fans commenting 'Oh my god, my two favorite groups are collaborating,'" said Kevin Richardson, speaking on the red carpet at the CMT Artists of the Year Special, where they honored Florida Georgia Line by singing "H.O.L.Y."
"It reminded me in a way of when we were a little younger," added Nick Carter.
Through their association with Florida Georgia Line, Backstreet performed on the ACM Awards in April, co-headlined stadiums with the genre-defying duo this summer and scored their first country Number One in July with FGL's "God, Your Mama, and Me," which borrowed heavily from the quintet's lush pop stylings.
As a result, country music is said to have a place on their upcoming their tenth studio album. Part of the recording is even happening in Nashville.
"Yes, there's a couple of tracks," said AJ McLean when asked if the project would have country moments.
"We cut some Nashville songs recently, and just yesterday I was in the vocal booth," added Richardson. "So we're in the lab playing around, experimenting."
According to the band, some of their favorite Nashville songwriters include members of country's new guard – artists like Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt, plus tunesmiths like Brett Tyler (Maren Morris' "Sugar") and Will Weatherly (FGL's "Dig Your Roots"). But it's not all the "new, young, hot dudes that are coming out right now," as McLean put it. The band also cite well-established Music City talents such as Vince Gill and Gary Baker (All 4 One and John Michael Montgomery's "I Swear," as well as Backstreet Boys' "I'll Be There for You" and more) as important influences.
2018 will mark the band's 25th anniversary, and on top of the new album they also expect to continue their Las Vegas residency and begin a new world tour.