WWII buff and ‘laundry snob’ Jordan Knight of NKOTB is still hanging tough
By Don Chareunsy
Quintessential boyband New Kids on the Block — brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joe McIntyre, Danny Wood and Donnie Wahlberg — are far from being kids now, but they’re still “Hanging Tough” after a nearly 30-year music career.
In fact, all of them are in their 40s now, and some are husbands and fathers.
“New Kids on the Block: After Dark” is at Axis at Planet Hollywood today through Sunday for four concerts in the theater that’s home to Britney Spears’ residency “Britney: Piece of Me.” The four shows are the only North American dates for NKOTB this year.
Frontman Jordan Knight chatted about Las Vegas, World War II and laundry ahead of “NKOTB: After Dark.”
“How’s the weather there? It’s really hot, isn’t it?” Knight asked when he got on the phone for the interview Monday afternoon.
“It’s really hot. It rained, too, so it’s humid,” I replied. “Get ready.”
“Oh, boy,” Knight said.
Speaking of hot, why is the show titled “After Dark”? That could be a dangerous title here in Las Vegas with many meanings.
I’m not quite sure yet. We really like to keep our shows spontaneous. We want to be appropriate, but we also adapt to the situation and the venue. We want to make these shows uniquely Las Vegas, especially since these are one-off. But we’ll be a little naughtier than normal.
My understanding is that these four shows at Planet Hollywood this weekend are the only in North America this year for you guys. Is that true?
Yes, it’s true. We try to tour every two years, so we’re coming off a year off. It’s four dates at Planet Hollywood. It’s our chance to say hi to the fans and keep the party going.
Why choose Las Vegas?
We can camp out there and not travel too much. Our fans travel to see us, just like the residencies in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is the spot to do it.
I know you’re familiar with Las Vegas. This will be my fourth time seeing NKOTB in Las Vegas in six years. What is it that you love about Las Vegas?
Well, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? That’s brilliant! People let their hair down, act differently and show their wild side. We are all so busy and serious. But we don’t go too crazy. We’ll let our inhibitions go in “After Dark.” We will, and we hope the fans do, too.
Which song in your large catalog of hits do you enjoy performing the most?
We haven’t performed “Click, Click, Click,” in a long time. That’s a fun pop song. “The Right Stuff” and “Hanging Tough” get fans the most riled up. They love it, we love it, and everyone goes crazy. I love “I’ll Be Loving You Forever” because it was our first No. 1 song. “Cover Girl” because Donnie sings the lead. It’s a fun song, a great pop song.
“Hanging Tough” has never been one of my favorite songs, but it’s a lot of fun to perform, and fans love it. Did I answer your question? That’s a lot of songs!
How does it feel to still tour with NKOTB in your 40s and after a nearly 30-year career?
It feels awesome. The music business is like a love affair with music and fans. You can go on and on. It’s like old married couples walking through the park who are still in love 20, 30, 40 years later.
We cherish it; it’s a beautiful thing. We’re still growing with our fans, and we enjoy surprising our fans. We live to keep the romance alive with our fans.
Your concert with Backstreet Boys a few years ago at Mandalay Bay Events Center was one of the loudest I’ve ever reviewed. Your longtime fans, and especially the women, still really love you guys.
It’s serious stuff, man! Even though it’s been 25, 30 years, you might think our shows are subdued, that we’re over-the-hill and on a cruise playing shuffleboard and basking in the sun. It’s still rock-star status and mayhem with our fans. It’s amazing — people are up all night partying.
Any plans outside performing during your four-day gig in Las Vegas?
I do like to gamble a little bit. Blackjack. But I’m pretty conservative and will sit at a table for two hours. That’s really fun to me. We’ll be partying after our shows with our fans at nightclubs. We’re throwing pool parties during the day. We’ll be pretty busy doing everything.
How about a return to solo music?
I released a solo album in 2011, “Unfinished.” I toured and performed at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. I’m going on tour with Nick Carter soon; we kick off Sept. 2. We’re performing at House of Blues in November. I’m really excited about this because it will be my first time doing duo work.
You just reminded me that I saw your House of Blues show, too. I’m apparently your stalker.
That’s great (laughs)!
Who are some of your favorite artists you’re listening to right now?
Prince and Michael Jackson. They’re the pinnacles. I was just listening to some of their stuff today. They are so many great artists out there. But I love the classic artists, the ones I grew up idolizing — Prince and Michael Jackson.
Tell me something longtime fans would be surprised to learn about you.
I’m a World War II buff. I watch a lot of documentaries. Not many fans know that. And I do my own laundry. I don’t like my wife to touch my laundry! My mom, either. No surprises — I don’t want a shirt to come back shrunk. I’m kind of a laundry snob.
I like to take it year by year. I might do another solo album. I’m not sure. There will be another tour with New Kids in North America. I also own a health club in Rhode Island and want to put more time and energy into that and expand it.
I’m excited about Planet Hollywood this weekend. Keep coming, and we’ll keep on performing!
“New Kids on the Block: After Dark” is at the Axis at Planet Hollywood at 8 p.m. today through Sunday.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.