Extended Adolescence: A.J. McLean on 20 Years as a Backstreet Boy
The Backstreet Boys break a lot of boy-band rules. According to a script established decades ago, these acts are supposed to have an extremely limited shelf life. The journey from middle school showcases to sold-out stadiums and back to oblivion is supposed to take, roughly, four or five years. Young fans, it is said, grow up quick, and there’s always a new teen sensation waiting in the wings. If you don’t believe us, go ask the Jonas Brothers or ‘N Sync.
Somehow, it has been over 20 years since the Backstreet Boys formed, and the group is still going strong. The days when Nick, Kevin, Brian, Howie and A.J. shut down Times Square every time they appeared on MTV may be long over, but they retained a hugely loyal fan base and continue to release new music. In Europe, where they broke long before anyone heard of them in America, they continue to pack arenas with screaming fans.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the Backstreet Boys hired director Stephen Kijak to create a documentary that tells their whole story. Accordingly, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of is a warts-and-all look into the screaming arguments behind their last tour, addiction issues from the height of their fame and even their fractured relationship with boy band svengali Lou Pearlman. We spoke to A.J. McLean about the making of the film and what’s ahead for BSB.
How did the idea for this movie first come about?
A couple of years ago we were all hanging out at Kevin’s house in Los Angeles. It was a little group powwow to talk about the upcoming album and who the producers would be. Nick kind of threw in, “What if we film the making of the album and the tour?” That started the whole thing. We started brainstorming all sorts of different concepts. We said, “Do we want this solely to be about music?” Then we thought it should be more of a full-fledged documentary about our backstory. What I liked about the idea is that we all lived it, but even our real die-hard fans don’t know what you see in the film.
It’s really not your typical music documentary of this generation. The Katy Perry one was a lot of live performances. The One Direction one was almost strictly live performances. This has very, very few live performances. It’s the whole story of our ups and downs, the highs and the lows.
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