Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Article from the Calgary Herald

Here is an article with quotes from Donnie from the Calgary Herald

Wahlberg pleased with boys to men transition
New Kids on the Block back in spotlight
Nick Lewis, Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

They sold more than 70 million records between 1988 and 1994, about as many as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have over their entire careers. They charted countless No. 1 hits, sold out arenas across the world, and had their mugs plastered on everything from lunch boxes to, well, mugs.

When the inevitable backlash came, the pressure crashed in and broke them up. Fourteen years later, the world's biggest boy band is back together, and Donnie Wahlberg for one is having a blast with New Kids on the Block.

"I don't really get caught up in successes and I don't harp on failures, but the timing has been impeccable," the 39-year-old says during a sound check in Salt Lake City.

"Each member of the group in some way deserves credit for that. Not for the timing itself, because you can never predict what the right time is, but for avoiding the pitfalls of the earlier attempts, each of which would have been the wrong time.

"So many people came at us over the years with ideas and plans, and someone always smelled a rat.

"I also thought it was important to protect the integrity of the name of the group--not that New Kids on the Block has always been associated with integrity.

"But if we give it away cheaply, what do we have?

"There's a value to the group, and I always believed that. And had we done little things over the past decade, maybe said yes to some of the goofy TV shows and other ideas thrown our way, we probably wouldn't have as much goodwill as we do with the revival."

That's been the best part of reuniting, Wahlberg says of the goodwill. For a pop group that went down in ridicule after its last-ditch transformation into the edgier NKOTB in 1994, the enthusiasm from both fans and the press over its reunion has been a pleasant surprise.

"Encountering all the goodwill, especially from people who probably wouldn't have had it before, has been great," Wahlberg says. "Because we are doing it now for the right reasons, in the right way. There's no reality show, no gimmicks and tricks, it's just us doing what we do. When we last toured back in the day, the reviews were filled with items about pre-recorded vocals and backing tricks and this and that.

"This time around, without question, there's been unanimous support."

New Kids on the Block were put together by Maurice (The General) Starr around 1985. Starr was a musical Svengali who had struck gold with his R&B teen hitmakers New Edition, an all-black group whose members included Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill. Wanting to replicate that success with white kids to appeal to white kids, he met a young Donnie Wahlberg in the summer of 1984 in Dorchester, Mass. It was Donnie who helped him find the others --his friends Danny Wood, Jordan Knight, Jon Knight and Joe McIntyre. Donnie's brother Mark Wahlberg was briefly in the group as well, but quit when he didn't care for its musical direction.

The five New Kids soon became an international sensation on the strength of singles such as Hangin' Tough and The Right Stuff, as teen magazines like Tiger Beat attempted to categorize each with tags --"the tough one" or "the sensitive one." Those tags soon became templates other boy bands followed.

"I do feel I can be myself these days, but the reality is I always felt that way," Wahlberg says. "We weren't manufactured in that way. It's important to me that people know that we weren't conceived in a board room. I wasn't the 'tough guy' or 'bad boy' to fill a role, I was who I was. I was also working my (expletive) off 20 hours a day involved in every aspect of the group. It's important for me for people to know I was not a manufactured image--that was something people tried to attach to us afterwards.

"You could look at a group like 'NSync and go, 'Oh my gosh, Lance Bass is the Jon Knight, Justin Timberlake is the Joe McIntyre, JC Chasez is the Jordan Knight'--you could go right down the line. But there was no plan with us. I was the first member of the group and I brought in guys I knew. I brought in Danny Wood and Jordan Knight, and I didn't bring them in because one had movie star looks and one was a good baritone. The reality was, A, they were my friends, and B, no other white kids in 1985 were doing that (expletive)."

Being back together after 14 years apart hasn't been a problem, Wahlberg says. In many ways, it feels easier now that the five kids are mature adults.

"I think some of the guys, we're a bit different and we may not connect on some levels," he says. "At the same time, when you're young you think you all have to be on board with everything, and it's all for one and one for all. When you grow up you realize everyone has their own way of doing things. In the past, when you're a 20-year-old kid, you find problems with little things the others do and blow up about it. 'Why is he talking to the fans that way?' or 'Why isn't he talking to the fans?' Now we realize, we each just have to get through the day our own way, and if one guy doesn't want to do sound check or do a radio interview, then that's OK. If those are our biggest problems, we're doing fine."

Wahlberg himself is doing great, having branched out into a successful acting career in the steps of younger brother Mark. He's appeared in all but one of the Saw movies, and you can presently catch him in Righteous Kill with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

But nothing has been as shocking as his role as Vincent Gray in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, in both his appearance and the power of his performance. What's incredible is that the role was originally written for a 13-year-old boy, until 30-year-old Wahlberg convinced Shyamalan otherwise.

"I really didn't try to convince him, the reality was I read the script and cried," he says. "I loved the script so much I got on a plane to New York to meet M. Night and asked him if I could turn it into a play where I could play the lead. And we hit it off so well, he told me he was thinking about Bruce Willis for the lead, and maybe that could make me about 18, 19, the right age for the character. And I said, 'Dude, I'll sweep the floors for this movie, that's how much I love it. If you can make it work with me, I'm there.' And that was it.

"I don't know what convinced him apart from the passion I had for the script. I dropped from 182 pounds to 140. I had such anxiety about it because I knew it was such a pivotal scene, and I was going to be on screen with Bruce Willis."

Today, Wahlberg says, he looks at that Oscar-nominated film as great preparation for everything else he's encountered since.

"I learned about commitment, about work ethic, and it's pretty much how I tackle anything now," he says. "It came from a time when the only person I could rely on was myself, and I've brought that back to New Kids now. I think it helps me, it helps the group, and I treat everything with that intensity. I know I'll never sing as good as Jordan Knight or Joe McIntyre, and maybe some of the other guys won't dance or write songs as well as me, but this time we're all committed. So, let the chips fall where they may."

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