Bang Showbiz interview with AJ re his "solo venture", but "never leaving" BSB...
see complete interview @
AJ McLean attempts to fly solo
By Sarah Bull May 19, 2008 07:42am
Solo career ... AJ McLean from The Backstreet Boys / AP
AJ McLean is most famous for being the "bad boy" of hit 90s boyband The Backstreet Boys but, with his upcoming solo album, he is attempting to forge a successful solo career.
The 30-year-old singer - who is partly responsible for the band's hit tracks including (Everybody) Backstreet's Back and As Long as You Love Me - insists he isn't worried about stepping away from the sound which led to his fame. "We're calling it a rock, funk and soul vibe. The vocals are pop and R 'n'B-ish and there's even a kind of country twang going on," he said. "It's eclectic. I think people will be a little shocked by some songs, which is absolutely fine by me. They'll be thinking, 'That is what I hoped he was going to do'."
However, AJ is arguably more famous for his personal life as for his professional career.
He went to rehab in 2001 to seek help for his alcohol and cocaine addiction after his bandmates Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell and Howie Dorough intervened when they became concerned about his erratic behaviour.
Now tee-total, AJ insists the experience sobered him in more ways than one, and also led to him writing a book with his mother Denise entitled Backstreet Mom.
He also said he has some advice for other troubled celebrities including Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears.
"I'm coming up on six years sober," he said. "I just want to sit down with Britney and pick her brain.
"I want to be just someone who can tell her straight. I'll say, 'Hey, do you want to die? Is that what you want?' If that is what she really wanted, she would have done it already. I know that is not what she wants."
Instead of turning his back on The Backstreet Boys, AJ insists he will never leave his bandmates behind, and is currently undergoing his solo tour in conjunction with the boys' Unbreakable World Tour 2008.
A.J also revealed the boys have been incredibly supportive of his solo venture.
"We're all really supportive of each other's projects outside of the group, whether it be singing, acting, producing or whatever," he said. "The one thing we've always told each other is that we'll never hold each other back. If anyone's got any dreams or aspirations to go do something on their own, that's cool as long as they can co-exist with the group."
While the boys' comeback tour has not been as successful as their previous ones, it is clear they still have some devoted fans. Lacking former member Kevin Richardson, the boys' most recent album Unbreakable was well received by critics and fans alike.
However, it seems that AJ's solo career could take him beyond the realms of boybandom to forge a career as a thoroughly successful solo artist.
With pop tracks and heart-wrenching soulful tracks on the as-yet-untitled album, AJ is set to prove he has what it takes to succeed in an industry which enjoys victimising boyband 'has-beens'. BANG Showbiz spoke to the musician on the day after The Backstreet Boys' performance at London's O2 arena, on the night of his solo performance at the IndigO2 - a more intimate concert venue inside the arena.
Q: How was the show with The Backstreet Boys at London's O2 arena last night?
A: The show was amazing - it went off without a hitch. We added a lot of new s**t yesterday - pyro and stuff so it was like because we were doing it for this big webcast for MSN and we are probably going to make it into a DVD as well - we wanted to add a little flair to the show that wasn't normally there. It went off without a hitch - nobody blew up, nobody caught fire! It was really good. There's been moments when that's happened.
Q: Why did you decided to go solo now?
A: I'm ready. A lot of people ask me, 'Why didn't you do it at the height of the Backstreet Boys fame?' But I wasn't ready then. I'm really glad I didn't do it then because I was just getting into my drinking and drugging and I would have probably destroyed my solo career. I mean, I probably would have been in the press an awful lot but it wouldn't have been positive and I want it to be positive and I want it to be right. I also like to think I would have learned as much as I did to write about. I wanted to be so honest with this record. I'm so psyched - I'm ready for this. I'm scared - I won't lie. It's kind of surreal and a little nerve-wracking because you are going to be up there on your own and you turn around a look behind you and there is nobody there - it's all you!
Q: Have you taken it in a specifically different direction that the material you wrote with the Backstreet Boys?
A: Yes, it is definitely a different direction. There are some songs that could be a Backstreet Boys record but then when you hear the lyrical content you go, 'OK, maybe not!' But the melodies and the harmonies - they have that feel to them. For the most part the sound is completely different. It's more rock, funk and soul with a pop feel. But it's me tapping into the start of where I really want to go. I couldn't go where I wanted to go on my first record because I think it would have taken people much too much by surprise. But for my second record, if this one does really well, I'll do the kind of record I want to do which is straight up funk - anything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Jimi Hendrix - straight up rock funk.
Q: Normally, the album precedes a tour, but you've done it the other way around. Why?
A: I think just because we have talked about when we are going to make another record. We have talked about the sound that we are trying to go for on this next Backstreet Boys record. I think it's just the timing - it just happens to be what is best for me. We are going to wrap up this whole tour in September and then I am going to continue doing shows like this right up until the single release and then do a proper solo tour next year. But it just seems to be the right time.
Q: Have you found your solo music has had a different reception with American and European audiences?
A: I don't know. I've done two US shows, at the House of Blues and at the Roxy, and they seemed to love it. There was a lot of European fans there but there was a lot of American fans there too, and everyone seems to really love it. They get it - they see that it's me and that's what I want them to see. And also they take something from it because it's more real music as far as directly what I'm talking about. It's more relatable and it's just people - guys and girls. There were guys at my show, there were guys rocking out - I think it's OK to like Backstreet Boys if you are a guy now and even more so, it is OK to like just good music! It doesn't matter who is doing it - a guy or a girl. I spent probably about four years making this record. It started in one direction, and then I went in another direction, and then in another direction again. Everything just kind of fell into place