New Kids rise again
Boston’s blockbuster boy band is back
By Jed Gottlieb Friday, May 16, 2008
Once upon a time the New Kids on the Block were, like, a totally awesome pop phenomenon.
Wait, back up and scratch that.
The New Kids on the Block are, like, a totally awesome pop phenomenon.
Those issues of Tiger Beat you treasured may be older than Miley Cyrus, but that hasn’t stopped Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Danny and Donnie from becoming as big as Hannah Montana all over again.
This morning the New Kids perform for the first time publicly in 14 years on the “Today” show. Sunday they play the sold-out Kiss-108 Concert at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield.
And on Sept. 26 and 28, Boston’s fab five plan to perform before a potential 40,000 fans at two (yes, two!) TD Banknorth Garden shows.
It’s insanity. All over again. And Jordan Knight knows it.
“Honestly, I thought we might be singing at the Orpheum,” said Knight on a break from rehearsing with the New Kids in Los Angeles. “I didn’t know what would happen with this thing. So to be playing two nights at the Garden is amazing.”
A humble Knight says the guys aren’t taking this reunion and shocking resurgence lightly. The former Hub heartthrobs - or current heartthrobs, if you’re into Kids in their late 30s - are putting in long hours re-perfecting those “Step By Step” steps.
While the five have always stayed in contact with each other, the New Kids ended poorly last time. After their ’94 album “Face the Music” stiffed and the group was demoted from arenas to clubs, the boys called it quits right before a scheduled June Kiss-108 Concert performance. Now fathers and B-list actors, suburbanites and wannabe reality TV stars, the five are getting back to what they do best: singing, dancing and charming girls. Or what they did best.
“We’ve been rehearsing for maybe a month and the first week I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’m going to drop dead’,” said the 37-year-old Knight. “But each week it got better. It’s kind of effortless now. If you take care of your body, and we all take care of ourselves, you’d be surprised at what you can do approaching 40.”
This isn’t the first time a New Kid has wanted to get back into fighting shape and reunite. In the past decade, each of the members has considered returning to the block. But it took the right timing for it to work (read: all five experienced simultaneous career stalls).
Or to take the less cynical view: They needed the right song.
Early last year, Knight went to a Celtics [team stats] game with Donnie Wahlberg and the two got to talking about finding the right music. A few months later, Wahlberg rang Knight with news.
“He told me he had a song that was hot,” said Knight. “That same day, the same day he first listened to it, he drove over to my house and made me listen to it in his car. He told me, ‘Man, this could be the song that kicks it off.’ ”
The song was Canadian r & b singer Nasri’s “Click Click Click.”
“It really appealed to what the New Kids were about,” said Knight. “It was mature, It was sexy. It wasn’t too pop or too r & b, but right in the middle. If anyone was to say, ‘You guys are getting back together? I don’t see how that could possibly be.’ I could go, ‘Oh, yeah?’ Boom! And play them this song.”
“Click Click Click” led to more songs, including current single “Summertime,” and an album release slated to coincide with their September tour.
If you’re getting acid wash flashbacks, remember: There’s one key difference between 1989 and now. The New Kids are mounting their comeback without former svengali Maurice Starr, who also created Boston’s New Edition.
Knight says the group and Starr parted amicably and he still talks to Starr every once in a while (“Hey, he came to my wedding,” Knight said). But no one in the group has heard from the now Florida-based Starr since getting back together.
“I do know what’d he say though,” said Knight with a laugh. “He’d tell me, ‘Hey, J, I got an opening act for you.’ ”