Joey was recently interviewed by The Morning Call. Check it out below:
It’s been nearly three decades since former boy band New Kids on the Block released its first album, and 25 years since its commercial peak with such hits as “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “Hangin’ Tough” and “Step By Step.”
On a tour that comes to Sands Bethlehem Event Center June 11 and 13, the group still has enough appeal to not only sell out the latter date, but also to do so in 45 minutes. That shattered the venue’s record for quickest sellout. (Tickets remain for the earlier date.)
That may be a testament to young female fans’ undying devotion to their boy bands, even as both groups age. New Kids members are now 42 to 46 years old.
New Kids singer Joey McIntyre points out that interest has continued seven years since the group reunited in 2008. That, McIntyre says, is validation that the group has continued to make good music and put on good shows.
He’s referring to the two discs the group has released since re-forming after a 14-year break. “The Block,” released in 2008, hit No. 2 and had a Top 40 single, “Summertime.” The follow-up “10” in 2013 peaked at No. 6.
In a call this week from a tour stop in Charlotte, N.C., McIntyre spoke about New Kids on the Blocks’ past, its current tour, and its future.
Here’s a transcript of the call:
LEHIGH VALLEY MUSIC: Hey Joe, how’s it going?
JOEY MCINTYRE: “Good. How are you?”
Just fine, thanks. So let me jump right into this: How did you guys end up touring with Nelly and TLC?
“Um, well, I think it started [when] we did something called the MixTape festival [in Hershey, Pa.], which we’re doing again this year. TLC was there and we hadn’t seen them in a while, but we listened to them back in the day when they first came on the scene and we were huge fans of them back in the day. You know, girls loved them, guys loved them, they really kind of broke the mold. They were so fresh and new and out there. And so we were big fans. And then to see them doing their thing again was really cool, so we thought out fans would – obviously they loved their music and all the hit records that they have, and they were doing their thing again. So we thought that was a pretty good fit.
“And then Nelly kind of came up because – well, first of all, he’s at the top of the list. To be able to have an artist with again, six, seven hit records and someone who really brings it and is an entertainer, we just thought that was a good way to kick off the night.
“And it’s been a blast so far.”
Let me ask what your shows are like these days. Obviously you’ve been around a while now and the fans from your initial popularity are the same age as you, probably – mid-40s. What kind of audiences do you see?
“Well, I think our fans are more – age is just a number. But I think they’re, like, more average in their late 30s. “Cause our fans were so young back in the day, which was tough. Because we appreciated the fans – we had some young fans back in the day – 5-, 6-, 7-,8-year-olds, you know? But yeah, the heart and soul of our audience is the fans that were there back in the day.
“But we’ve been back together again for seven years now, and as far as our shows go, we embrace the past, we embrace the nostalgia, but we also made new music. And we’re still young, thanks to being so young, again, back in the day. And we’ve been able to, I think, straddle, walk the line, between nostalgia and being current and cool and fresh. And that’s the spirit of the night.
“But when it comes down to it, we’re entertainers. Since the day we got together when we were teenagers, it was all about ‘What’s the next show?’ ‘How are we going to surprise them?’ ‘Howe are we going to win over this crowd?’ ‘Cause we didn’t come on the scene having millions of fans – we earned it. And we played for a lot of tough audiences and we loved winning them over.
“And I think we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take the show and putting on a great show seriously. And I think we’re great entertainers and we love to do what we do and we put on a show – regardless of whether you’re a New Kids fan, we want to entertain people, and I think we’re pretty good at doing that.”
Yeah, I got to tell you, I saw you guys the last time you came through Philadelphia, and here’s what struck me: It’s almost like you guys these days are sort of like The Temptations. You’ve got that music that people hear and like after generations. I think it’s able to see you guys as a vocal group, as a multi-generational vocal group, rather than just a boy band. You feel that at all?
“Absolutely. It’s all, I think, again, when you’re in the business long enough, you don’t get hung up on labels. Again, we’re a boy band, they say we’re the original boy band, yada, yada, yada. We’re a singing group, we’re a performing group.
“It’s funny you said that, ‘cause when you asked me the question I was just thinking, ‘The old-school entertainer.’ And certainly we have echoes of that – especially in the night we pay homage to the band that, without saying it, but bands like The Temptations and The Jackson 5. And I love those moments, because they’re timeless, and it’s almost like we’re carrying a torch, you know?
“And I think – not to sound old fashioned – but I don’t see these groups coming up appreciating that. And I just think that’s a sign of the times. I remember [laughs] seeing something Frank Sinatra saying, like, ‘I hope someone comes along and sings these songs and carries the torch.’ You know what I mean? So I probably sound like him in a different genre, but I think that’s a craft. I mean, dancing, singing, performing – the whole package – is what we bring.
“And I think a lot of these bands of the younger generation, they don’t know what they’re missing. They’re loving their groups and they’re having a blast, but you don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t seen it before.”
I can’t remember – I asked my wife this today and I said, ‘Can you remember a boy band that has stayed together this long? And She said, ‘Well, maybe The Osmonds.’ But that’s a family …”
What had kept you guys together so long? And do you see any end to it?
“Well, you know, it’s important to mention first off that we took 14 years off. [Laughs] You know what I mean? And that’s a huge part of the equation. I think it was the first time around we hung in there for a little bit but we read the tea leaves. We also knew we had to have our own lives. We had been going and going and going for four, five years non-stop. And we wanted to see what was on the other side of the rainbow.
“So we lived life, we made our mistakes, we grew up, we had families. And that’s what our fans did, too. You know, the fan base went away because it was human nature – that’s what we do. And then you get old enough and you go back, and you’re able to embrace the past. And those moments, and that time in your life becomes so sweet.
“And so that’s a huge part of the equation. The other part is that I guess we never sold each other out. We never dragged any member over the coals for anything. We kind of kept our mouths shut and knew we were all in it together – whether we got back together or not.
“And so when we were able to come back and say, ‘Well, maybe let’s try this,’ we were all willing to do it together. We were all willing to fail. Because after 15 years, you don’t know who’s going to come out, who’s going to come back. What’s going to happen.
“And the fans were ready. We were ready and the fans were ready, and they showed up. And it’s magic. It’s a miracle, it’s magic. It doesn’t happen; it really doesn’t happen. And right now, because of the commitment that we made to each other, we benefited from the experience. There’s nothing like experience, no matter what you do. Years of experience.
“And so many groups don’t benefit from that because they break up and they move on, for whatever reason – good, bad or indifferent. We’re lucky enough to be back together, and the more we’re together, the more we know how to work together and live together and appreciate every moment. And we’re just getting better and better at it.
“So will it ever end? I don’t think it will ever end in the sense that we’ll always be New Kids on the Block. And we’ll always have our fans. And as our fans get older they’re always going to mean something to us. I mean, frankly, fans are going through stuff in our lives now that is not easy – they have lives, they’re getting sick. I mean, some of them are, unfortunately, suffering from different diseases. And we’re losing a couple of our sisters. And that’s life.
“So we’re forever bonded to those fans. And it sounds corny and we’re still just entertainers at the end of the day. But there’s a bond there that I think is never going to go away. And we’ll be together forever in some kind of capacity, you know? That’s what I think.”
When your authorized biography, “Five Brothers and a Million Sisters” came out a couple years ago, there was an anecdote in there about you guys starting your first headlining tour, and you started it in Allentown, Pennsylvania at a roller-skating rink.
Do you have any recollection of that at all?
“Yes. I believe I do, yeah. I believe I do. It was the first night we had a live band. We used to, when we first got our break opening for Tiffany, we would literally just get a cassette and sing over the cassette. That’s all we could afford, you know?
“And about a year or so later, we got to have our own band and that first night was like [pauses] it was like going down a highway in a tractor-trailer and [laughs] stuff isn’t really strapped down and sh-t’s flying around in the back and the doors are opening up and people are flying off. It was nuts. But I do remember it – not so vaguely.”
And then when you started your first solo tour, the first show of your first solo tour was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. You played our Bethlehem Musikfest festival. And I wondered …
“Wow. The first date, really? Or one of them?”
It was advertised as the first date – in 1999.
“Wow. Um, well, I mean, Pennsylvania and that area – you know, and the northeast, has always been sort of the stronghold for New Kids fans. And I guess it makes sense, you know what I mean – we’re from that area, so to speak, and we’ve always had a lot of support there and it’s importance to us.”