Friday, October 10, 2008

Article from Las Vegas Review Journal

Here is an article from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

A year ago, he was flipping houses.

He had been a comic book character, a Saturday morning cartoon and a fixture on your kid sister's lunchbox.

Real estate was his refuge.

But with the economy being what it is these days, that's like having a safety net made of dental floss.

Still, Jonathan Knight is getting by.

As one of the original members of blockbuster boy band the New Kids on the Block, Knight has taken a hiatus from his business and returned to the road at age 39 as part of the world's reigning, um, "man band."

"There's lots of Advil taken," Knight says of getting back in performance shape, chuckling through a New England brogue. "It's been a hard transition going from my day job to my night job, but I've got good people back home taking care of everything."

And so Knight is free to moonlight with your mom, making thousands of 30-something NKOTB fans relive their junior high days when this bunch stole hearts and allowances with equal aplomb.

They notched nine straight top 10 singles beginning in the late '80s, sold 70 million albums and did more than $400 million in merchandise in 1991 alone.

If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, Knight and his bandmates' fresh-scrubbed mugs did something similar in the pubescent pop music ranks, spawning later-day heirs such as the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98 Degrees.

But after removing himself from the fold some 14 years ago, Knight was initially a little wary about doing it all over again.

"It was definitely something I had to think about," he says. "We've talked about it off and on over the years, we'd always joke about it and stuff like that. At different times that we talked about it, Donnie (Wahlberg) was doing a movie or I was busy doing a project or Jordan (Knight) just had a kid, it was just all these factors that prevented it in the past.

"A lot of times in the past, too, it was like MTV or VH1 or just different promoters were approaching us and asking us if we wanted to do it, but the majority of the time, it was only to benefit them and not us," he continues. "So we said no to all those people. But we still had talked about it, and it just kind of seemed like the timing was right for everybody to move forward."

When Knight left NKOTB, he was wracked by panic attacks. Being swarmed by chicks is every young dude's dream, but it had turned into a nightmare for Knight.

"It definitely was overwhelming, and it was hard to find your space and time to just be you and not be one of the New Kids," Knight says. "It was different back then, because most of our fans were teenagers and their hormones were going crazy. They would do anything to get at you.

"I like it a lot better now," he adds. "We do meet and greets every day before the show, and you walk into the room, there's 200 people there, but they're not rushing you and grabbing at you. It's calm, and you can have an adult conversation with them."

If their audience has grown up, so have the New Kids. Their new album, "The Block," released last month, is slick and oversexed, with songs about macking on ladies at the local watering hole ("Put it on My Tab") and doing the grown-up in front of the video lens ("Lights, Camera, Action").

There's a bevy of guest stars on the album -- Akon, the Pussycat Dolls, New Edition, etc. -- making it sound like one big, overstuffed family reunion.

It's a decidedly different, harder-hitting album from a group that made a name for itself with playful, incandescent melodies and a light, hooky bounce.

"In the past, a lot of music and stuff was done by Maury Starr," Knight says, referring to the group's former producer. "Not to say that when we were 20 years old we didn't have any say in what kind of music made the record and stuff, but there was definitely other people telling us, 'We think you should do this.' Now, we have the final say in everything and anything we do."

And it seems to be working. "The Block" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, and the band is selling out arenas on its much-hyped comeback tour.

All of which means that it will be a bit longer before Knight returns to hawking homes.

"This whole thing still seems so surreal to me," he says. "When we first talked about recording a new album a year ago, I expected we'd be doing theater shows and just a small tour. But it just kind of snowballed into this whole thing. It's amazing. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that there would have been this much of a response to this whole thing."


Anonymous said...

Ah I love that it was Jonathan doing the interview! So glad to have you guys back on the block! :D

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine where the guys thought we had gone. We have all been here waiting all these years. Although, after 14 yrs, we were begining to think that this was a pipe dream. Welcome back, guys!