Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Jordan Knight interview with Cleveland.com

Jordan talked to Cleveland.com about the upcoming tour and more!

These men of a certain age still feel like New Kids on the Block

Published: Jun. 10, 2024, 8:30 a.m.

By Gary Graff, special to cleveland.com

The joke, of course, is that New Kids on the Block are not kids anymore.

Jordan Knight, who’s on the phone, and most of his four bandmates are in their mid-50s (Joey McIntyre’s the youngster at 51). And they have a full life’s worth of career behind them, starting as teens during the mid-80s in Boston and going on to rack up worldwide record sales of more than 80 million along with 10 Top 20 hits -- including the chart-toppers “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever),” “Hangin’ Tough” and “Step By Step.”

That’s not kid stuff.

The New Kids have managed to age gracefully, however. They don’t record with great regularity -- the new “Still Kids” is the quintet’s first proper album in 11 years -- but they don’t need to, either; its formidable track record and unshakeable fan devotion -- especially from, let’s face it, the ladies -- has made it one of music’s most consistently successful touring acts, and even a generational group that’s introduced by one generation to the next.

“Still Kids” proves that older New Kids still have the capacity to create, though. McIntyre co-wrote and produced on six of the 14 tracks with Donnie Wahlberg doing the same on seven. And Knight worked with the latter on “Old School Love,” which features fellow ’80s hitmaker Taylor Dayne.

The presence of a new album, meanwhile, has taken New Kids out of their road packages of recent years and into a more traditional headline spot for The Magic Summer Tour, titled as a sequel to the group’s 1990-92 treks and playing its first date on Friday at Blossom Music Center.

But Knight, 54, says he and his mates still plan to give the fans all the flash and dancing they love -- and maybe even more of it from these men who still consider themselves, well, kids...

The new album is called “Still Kids.” Wishful thinking or do you still feel like those kids?

Knight: Honestly, we really do. My grandmother used to say, “No matter how old you get you can still feel like a kid.” I remember her saying that when I was a kid, and I would think, “Are you crazy? You’re so old...” (laughs) I didn’t say that to her, but I was like, “How can that be true? Whaddya mean you can still feel like a kid?,” cause she moved slow and blah, blah, blah. But now that I’m older, I know that it’s true. Instead of skipping you may shuffle a little more, but the energy you feel inside you is the same. And when we go on stage and we’re bopping around and singing to the music, it’s like we’re allowed to let go and be free and be like kids.

What would you say is New Kids image right now?

Knight: It’s hard to say...You could say we’re an ’80s band, a retro band, or a band that had bit hits in the ’80s, and we keep making music. That’s what it really is.

Blossom’s getting the first date of the Magic Summer Tour. What can fans expect this time?

Knight: It’s actually been awhile since we’ve done this type of show, just us on stage for an hour and a half, two hours. In the Mixtape type of format we would be able to get a break; another group would come in and kind of save us. So we’re going to have to make sure that we take people on a journey and not let it get boring. We always put the dancing and routines high on the list. We like to use confetti. We love to use lighting and lasers and smoke and pyro, all the best and whistles and use them appropriately and creatively to go along with the show and get the crowd going. So it’s a big production in that way -- big LED screens behind us and everything so you can really see our faces and the sweat coming down our foreheads and all that. So it’s really immersive even if you’re in the very back.

The Mixtape tours did not use a live band. Have you added one for this tour?

Knight: There’s no band. We loved having a band, but I think with the band it kinda got cumbersome, and we saw a couple acts do it without a band and it sounded the same. So we were like, “What if we just recorded if we just recorded the band so it sounds live and has a spontaneous sound?” And that’s what we did. This way we travel a little lighter. It’s easier for us to make changes. So it just makes more sense in a lot of ways.

You’re famous for going out in the crowds during the shows and singing among the masses. What kind of crazy things have happened when you do that?

Knight: (laughs) A couple of us have been grabbed in different areas, and I don’t recommend that. Surprisingly, knock on wood, none of us have gotten hurt ‘cause, like, when we’re in arenas we jump up on the hockey railing or the wall or whatever and walk 50 yards on that thing, high-fiving people and jumping into the crowd, and people are really cool. We don’t get attacked and our hair pulled out. People high-five us, shake our hands and take selfies, which is great. We’ve got the best of both worlds -- it’s not so crazy we can’t go in the crowd but it’s crazy enough that it’s enjoyable.

Do you enjoy it more, or differently, now?

Knight: I enjoy it more, in a different way. When we first went out it was so crazy and we were so young. It was just nuts. Now it’s more like a slightly slower drip of caffeine. We get the excitement and the thrill of it, but it’s also at a more sustainable pace, a more manageable pace. We get to soak it in, I would say, rather than, “OK, when’s the next show?” We’re actually in the moment more, and we all appreciate it more now.

Why do you think New Kids have lasted and continued to thrive? Not many groups of your ilk have.

Knight: First of all I would say we had a really good producer (Maurice Starr) back then. He just wrote and produced some really good songs for us. I think when you put a great song out there and it really hits, you make an impression and so many people and people want to go back to that feeling they got when they first heard the song or when they were a big fan. When you listen to it now you get the same feeling. The music makes such an emotional impression; it just stays in your heart and you want to revisit that. We’re fortunate to have that.

New Kids probably doesn’t have to release new music at this point. What led to “Still Kids?”

Knight: We still have the desire to make new things. We just want to make new music to get us excited and also to get the fans excited to hear something new from us and not just be like, “Yeah, we’re an ’'80s band” and rely on our ’80s music. We don’t want to do that. I don’t think it’s in our DNA. So it’s really to pump new life into the bands and into the fans and into the show. That’s why we make new music. That’s always a good thing

What did you have in mind for the kind of album you wanted “Still Kids” to be?

Knight: We don’t really have a theme, usually, or anything like that. I think there are a lot of ’80s sounds, and sound, on the album but in a new way. It’s like The Weeknd; a lot of his songs sound like they could have come straight from the ’80s but they have a new sound to it. It’s like what goes around comes round -- with fashion, music, everything, but as long as it’s got a new twist to it. That’s what it sounds like to me; you can hear the ’80s in it, but it’s the NEW ’80s.

You co-wrote “Old School Love” in particular. How did that song come about?

Knight: We were in New Jersey with Naughty By Nature, in their studio. Their producer had this track that sounded like Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis ‘80s, almost like (the S.O.S. Band’s) “Just Be Good To Me” or something like that. That’s what I grew up on. We were just messing around, and the vocal that I threw down was a demo vocal; I wasn’t crazy about it but Donnie said, ‘It’s good. It’s good enough. Trust me. Just keep it the way it is,’ ‘cause he knows I can beat a dead horse to try to make things better. Then Donnie wrote a lot of stuff comes about, just messing around and going, “Hey, that’s kind of a cool avenue to go down. Let’s keep going.” And then a song comes out of it.”

New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul and DJ Jazzy Jeff start the Magic Summer tour at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14 at the Blossom Music Center, 1145 Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls. 330-920-8040 or livenation.com

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