Here is a new interview with Donnie from News of the World
NKOTB talk sex and drugs
Donnie Wahlberg tells all
By James Desborough, 19/01/2009
New Kids On The Block have done a Take That by reuniting and reliving the success they had in their heyday.
The five-piece original boy band is in the midst of a sell out world tour, twenty years after the lads dominated the world of pop.
The group, who sold a staggering 80 million records, are lapping up the praises and the thrown panties on the UK leg of their tour.
Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and Donnie Wahlberg became household names, while banking £80m each from six years in the charts. In 1990, they were Forbes highest paid entertainers – eclipsing Madonna and Prince.
Their hits like Cover Girl, Hangin’ Tough and Tonight bagged them a string of gongs around the globe.
In 1994 the lads called time on their boy band, and over the next 13 years resisted a string of attempts to reunite.
Last year Donnie convinced his old pals to return to the fray by writing a string of songs. After their new album New Kids On The Block hit the number one slot in the US, they decided to tour.
Donnie spoke to the News Of The World about their success second time around and the first time gives an insight into the wild times of the US act.
The album has a club feel, and seemed fun?
Donnie: “We didn’t set out to make a club album.
“We wanted to do core songs that were fun to perform
“The good thing was that making the album was very natural to us. “We didn’t want to just back together for the money
“We came together as a group again and it was such a good spirit between us.
“We weren’t locked in a studio without having fun – we didn’t want to do that all at?
“We wanted to make a good album first, and then see how things went on from there. We did it bit by bit. Our record label Universal was supportive of that, and it has paid off.
“The funny thing about being in a boy band is that in the beginning you are desperate to convince everyone you’re not a boy band and that you have talent – but you can’t.
“Only if you last long enough and you’re older, you prove it in other ways that you never thought of.
“You get respect with hard work and energy, and over time people realise what you have achieved without you telling them.
“You talk a lot when you’re younger; you do a lot when you’re older. I find that I taught myself.”
Donnie since the band split up you have a built a successful career as an actor.
You recently starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Righteous Kill, and have big roles in TV shows like Boomtown and Band Of Brothers.
What made you return to NKOTB?
Donnie: “To be honest I never thought I would do this again.
“I thought my career had moved on from NKOTB.
“I didn’t want to take a step backwards – but it was something I wanted to do.
“We got back together because I wrote a song that inspired me that I wanted to record.
“My personal life was going through a lot of changes so music was my comfort. It was a great thing to go to the studio and write a song about your frustrations.
“It was an outlet for it, and reuniting with the New Kids seemed like the right time
“It wasn’t a problem getting back on stage and doing the routines as we put in the work.
“We didn’t want to slap together some moves and go out on stage to make money. We wanted to make the show great. It was a lot of hard work, creativity and preparation.
“What we didn’t account for was the reaction of the fans.
“It’s been especially amazing for us as the economy has been so bad and people are struggling, but so many of our fans have come out and had a chance to feel young again.
“There is more energy in the audience now than there used to be. The screams are as loud, the hysteria is as crazy, but there is an attitude from the fans and us, of how fortunate we all are to be doing this again.
“A lot of fans are nervous before seeing us; They want to go on this journey.
“Some people thought we’d show up and do our old classics and walk away. But with experience we have learned, and the shows are better than anyone would expect. We have taken it to another level.“
You and your band are almost 40-year-olds – how does it feel being in a boy band? Did you worry the comeback wouldn’t work.
Donnie: “I never thought about failure
“The words: ‘I can’t’ don’t enter my head. It sounds clichéd, but reforming and touring felt right.
“If I didn’t think we could do it at this higher level, then I wouldn’t waste my time doing it.
“There was never a discussion between the guys about our age. No-one said: “Can I still do it at my age?”
“The only thing was that I had to stop smoking, because the tour would take a lot out of me.
“The rehearsals were fine, and the show has been brilliant to play.”
In the last twenty years NKOTB have become viewed as the founding fathers of the modern boy band.
In your hey day from 1988 to 1992 you managed to achieve global success while remain the squeaky-clean boys next door.
Donnie: “I can’t say we were the cleanest living. I think we were smart.
“We were in a different era. We lived in a time where if you did stupid things it would end your career - nowadays if you get caught doing something you sell more records.
“There were plenty of women around, but we were at a time when HIV was a big thing, scaring everyone. “We were cautious. We had fun, and were young men, but at the same time there was a lot to lose and we respected that.
“We never went too far, and kept ourselves in check.
“It’s funny because you think we didn’t have scandals, but I was accused of lighting a hotel on fire!
“To me that was a big deal that was not some minor blip
“When the judge was saying I was going to jail for twenty years, that sh** was not minor.
“We weren’t the cleanest living I grew up in a house with drugs and alcohol and brothers in prison, NKOTB was my way out.
“I had enough examples in my life of what not to do.
“ I didn’t join a boy band to show how bad ass I could be.
“If someone wanted to start a fight with me, I would defend myself.”
We expect a sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle from our biggest acts today. Nothing was ever written about that hedonistic lifestyle when it came to NKOTB, so much was really going on behind the scenes?
Donnie: “It was fun. At times we made the most of it. We never did anything to excess.
“Did I have lot of sex – of course. That was not my motivation then, I was more interested in my work. It always came second.
““I would be quick to defy the record company or management. - I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me how to live my life
“Our code of conduct was set by the boys.
“If the guys said you were out of control, then you’d step back and evaluate that.
“If the record company or management I didn’t care. They were not in the circle.
“The guys in the group would tell you – ‘You are an ****hole’ if you stepped out of line. We were all defiant to a lot of things
What were the wildest things you can remember?
Donnie: “I didn’t do cocaine, crack or heroin – that’s for sure.
“To me I don’t look back and say ‘I can’t believe I did that.’
“We trashed a lot of hotels out of boredom and frustration at being trapped.
“It got to the stage where we couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped by a thousand people.
“Night after night we stayed at hotels, but at 20-years old you want to take on the world, so once in a while I took out my baseball bat to a TV set.
“We used to have target practice of the contents from the swimming pool.
“Once in Hawaii we were on about the 25th floor, so the pool looked like the size of a glass of water.
“We threw chairs, furniture, soda cans, televisions and books.
“Another time I got a $10,000 bill for breaking Ming vases and lamps.
“They sent me the bill, but I never broke the lamps.
“So I demanded to have them sent to me, and I took a baseball bat and smashed to pieces. “
Everywhere you went thousands of girls were desperate to get their hands on you. Jordan was considered the ‘best looking man' in pop, did that translate with his success rate with the ladies?
Donnie: “Danny was the killer with the ladies.
“He put the most time into it. Danny was the guy who got the most girls.
““I think when you averaged it out, it came to about one a night, If you took Monday and Tuesday off you might have three on Wednesday.
“On tour I took a recording studio with me, and I’d be there all night.
“I would have a girl waiting in my room, but by the time I got back she would have gone home with her friend.
“The fans would try and get to us by riding up elevators, climbing on tour bus roofs. Hiding under room service carts and Joe found some hiding in a closet.
“Sometimes when the guards would be holding fans I would tell them to let them through. It depended; I liked to spend time with them, so I went out to eat and I had her brought to dinner, and we would go from there.
“It was not that you got what you wanted, everybody wanted to.
“It was the greatest time ever. When you’re young, you have a lot of sexual drive and try it.
“Sometimes I look back and say thank God I am alive, thank God I didn’t catch anything or die. I don’t look back with much regret.
“I didn’t abuse or hurt people.
“Other than being naked in a room with six girls now and again I didn’t make my mother too embarrassed.
“A lot of bands brag about what they did, but I think they hate women, and I don’t: I love women. I don’t have to brag about my exploits.
“I don’t need to talk about how I did this and that, and had her sister and aunt at the same time. That doesn’t validate me.”
You had over 50 sold out shows in the US and Canada, how do the fans react these days
Donnie: “I have loved being on tour.
“I am a father with two kids, so I am not out be any sexual conqueror, but the fans are so much better, interesting and sexier – on every level it’s better the second time around.
“The amazing things now is that the fans are so sophisticated with the internet, they get their rooms in the hotel
“So I come back from a concert and they’ll be 10 fans on my floor. They don’t have to do it, but they want to.
“When you go down to the bar, there are the fans with their credit cards on the table. You go anywhere in the hotel and they are there.
“I dunno if any older bands get that. – I haven’t heard that
“They’ve got groupies backstage, but now our fans have greater access to us now than at any time in history.”
“Many of our fans are married, but they can be very aggressive.
“Married women will come and tell you: “My husband told me I will sleep with you tonight.’ It is freaky. I know what it feels like to be a husband in a break-up and you don’t want your wife sleeping a rock star.
“I would never go there, I am not gonna sleep with anyone’s wife – that’s just bad karma.
“When you’re younger you never think about dating fans. You party, mess around , but not to be serious.
“But now you’re older some of these women are beautiful, successful people.
“I find it more plausible that you could meet a fan and start a relationship.
“I am not sleeping around on tour though.
“It’s a different world. I am old fashioned.
“I could have a lot of crazy stuff appear on YouTube, but I am not ready for kids to see me having sex with three women on YouTube. “
NKOTB made a huge point of being anti-drugs. The government used the band to front campaigns to beat drug use in the US teen market. What made you feel that way?
Donnie : “I had brothers and sisters who were drug addicts. I tried drugs myself, but I learned from seeing my family destroyed by it, to not do it
“I tried it, and I realised that was not for me. I had an opportunity to make music so I just stopped
“Where I came from it’s not if you’re gonna smoke pot, or take cocaine – it’s just when.
“It’s not a question if you’re gonna steal a car, but when.
“I was in a stolen car at 11 with my one of my friends, and I smoked pot somewhere around that time.
“Realistically most guys where I come from smoked a joint by 13 – I guarantee I did. I didn’t enjoy getting high, so it wasn’t a problem to stop.
“My older brother was in jail as a direct result of drugs. I heeded the warning signs. I didn’t want to end up in jail.
“At an early age I didn’t want drugs because of the experience.
“My drill was that I had music. I was in the band aged 15, and had gigs to prepare for so I was focused on that.
“When we became famous nobody had any interest in drugs. Our time and energy was focused on the group. Drugs can’t match the feeling of performing live.
“I told people to say no to drugs because I had experience of them – I think that makes me a good person to talk about it.
“We saw the damage and destruction around us. “
Did you live the high life after making your millions?
Donnie: “Nobody bought a Ferrari, a mansion or snorted coke and blew their money. Nobody did that sh** We came from hard working families
“The best thing about being in the group we all kept ourselves in check.
“If someone turned up with a Ferrari, the other guys would say ‘You’re an ***hole’, so nobody brought one.
“We all had women, fun and drinks, now and again, but we all wanted to do something better with our lives.
“If I turned up drunk and stumbled on stage I would be kicked out the band.
“When we were a boy band we were criticised for not doing stupid stuff.
“If we would have done that – ravaged women, done drugs – we would’ve wasted our opportunities.
“We were all committed to being successful – it may sound boring, but 20 year later we are having the last laugh. “
How do you feel about Take That - they are riding high after a comeback three years ago?
Donnie : “I don't track boy bands if the band has a good song and I like it - I'll listen to it
"I don't think there is any competition. I know how hard it is to be successful; it's even harder a second timer.
“While I don't follow their progress I can only admire them for coming back.
"To have a member leave, become so successful and eclipse the group that should have been the end of the story, but the fact they’ve come back is an amazing accomplishment
"When Robbie left Take That it was supposed to be the nail in their coffin - but they didn't give up.
"It was the same with us. The critics can have their say, but we all knew that we were doing it for the right reasons. I feel lucky, but at the same time I worked my ass off.
"If you work hard you will be rewarded - it's the same for Take That."
New Kids On The Block are on a UK tour from Friday January 16 until January 29.