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Interview: New Kids On The Block

8 min read
ICYMI: We caught up with pop icon Jordan Knight of @NKOTB to talk touring, career highlights and new album #StillKids...

New Kids on the Block have long been considered the original pop boy band and an act that helped pave the way for many others including Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. With a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an animated TV series, a US day in honor of them (April 24) and having sold over 80 million records, as well as almost every music award you can think of being handed to them, there are very few things the group haven’t accomplished. On top of that, the band have been hangin’ tough in their original line-up since 1984, keeping fans happy for 40 years – no easy feat in pop music.

Showing they are still kids at heart and as strong a unit as ever, the 5-piece that is made up of Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood, are releasing their brand new studio album, Still Kids on May 17 and is fronted by the single, Kids. Ahead of the album release and a massive US summer tour, we got to jump on a video call with lead singer Jordan to talk about the record, the tour and the bands phenomenal career as pop icons. Here is what he had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: Four decades is a very long time for a band to last, especially in pop music. How does it feel to still be doing what you’re doing, and as brilliantly as you are?

Jordan Knight: I feel kind of in disbelief honestly. I never thought that we would still be doing this. Back in the day when we started, when we hit it big, I didn’t think it would last into my fifties. I feel very lucky. I feel very blessed. Sometimes I feel very old. A lot of times I do feel like being in the group has kept me young, hence the album name Still Kids. It’s kind of how we all act around each other, it does keep us young. That’s what we give to the world, is us letting loose. Us uninhibited. Us being artistic. Us being fun. That’s all kid qualities.

After this long as a band, it’s a rarity and the bond you have is unique. What’s the secret of having such a strong bond after a long period of time?

JK: I think the fact that all our families know each other. We all came from the same area in Boston. Four out of five of us went to the same elementary school and knew each other in first, second and third grade. We can’t hide from each other, we can’t be phony with each other. I think that’s kept us close. If one person goes off and starts acting different or phony, that person knows we know. We keep it genuine.

BV: What can you tell us about the new record, it been a long time between albums. What was it like getting back in the studio?

JK: In between there we did different songs – we did a song during the pandemic. We did a Christmas song. We’ve done things between albums, so we still recorded but not a whole body of work. It’s fun to do because you know you’ll have something new to do on stage and fans are going to hear something new so you get excited about that. You get excited about the reaction of the fans, about creating something new and sharing it. A change in how we record has happened, probably because of the pandemic…

BV: I was going to say, I’ve spoken to a few people who’ve said, not just because of the pandemic, but over the years how the industry has developed, the process of recording is different. How has that changed with New Kids on the Block.

JK: Yeah, it was eventually going to happen, but I think the pandemic sped it along. The computer that I’m on now, this little Mac Book I’ve probably had for twelve years, this is what I recorded on. This computer that I’m talking to you on with a mic, with a preset garage band that comes with the Apple computer. That’s what I did my vocals on, for the whole album! That’s just insane. I did it in my bedroom.

BV: Wow. Back to the fact you’ve had such a lasting career. What are the fondest memories of the early days in the group, when you compare them to now.

JK: I think even before we were famous. Just hanging out, being together, hustling, laughing, playing basketball and being in the studio. We recorded our biggest album in the most rundown studio known to man. It was in the middle of a pretty rough neighbourhood. The house was half done and dilapidated. If you solo the vocals, you’d hear sirens and police in the background. But we made it happen and it was fun. We thought we were on top of the world, and we were having a lot of fun. Those days before the fame, when we were just dreaming, I think those were the best moments.’

BV: You struck gold and found fame very early – were there any challenges? How do you process becoming global stars?

JK: It’s the same old story where you have entourages and friends or whatever…its tough because you have a bunch of friends and then you start making a lot money and want to do different things and your friends don’t have as much money…and then you end up paying for everything. That happens a lot, with a lot of people and I understand it. You don’t want to go and get new friends that have money, you have your friends. So you get caught in a little dilemma. I guess the spotlight. Me personally, I was always shy and kind of had social anxiety. Even in high school, I would dread doing an oral presentation or stuff like that for weeks and weeks.

BV: That’s such a surprise to me – I would never have guessed that!

JK: Yeah, it was actually really terrible. Even during New Kids I had a tough time with stage fright or any new TV show that we were going to be doing I would dread for weeks and weeks. It was a really tough that situation. I guess the rollercoaster ride…the mean media that went after us. All they said was just mean things and straight out lies about us, just because they didn’t like us I guess. The pressure from the record company to beat your last single…stuff like that.

BV: Any pressure these days, going into releasing an album this week?

JK: I don’t feel the pressure no, I don’t feel it. Whatever it is, it is. It’s really to me, for us and or the fans to have fun while we’re out on tour. Anything on top of that is gravy. I don’t aspire to sell a trillion albums. Just to have fun while we’re on stage with the fans with new music.

BV: You’ve had so many accomplishments over the years, from a Hollywood star to a cartoon show named after you, a day names after you in Boston. Whats the proudest accomplishment for you?

JK: I think our first performance at The Apollo Theatre was a big moment for us. Our whole lives was like The Apollo Theatre, The Apollo Theatre they’re the roughest crowd but if you can make it there you can make it anywhere type of thing. And we went and done a great job and the crowd loved us. That was big for me. I think another thing was us reuniting. The first show we did after reuniting. The first night was in Toronto Canada and we came up the riser and there’s that ttsscchhh noise and it was the first time in about fifteen years that we were performing together in front of a crowd. That was a big moment and a big accomplishment for us I think. For us to get back together after fifteen years, to be adult enough to keep our egos down, we all had egos, but too keep them under control enough to pull it off.

BV: Yet another reason why the band are so tight and together till this day right…

JK: I would say so, yeah. We’re all from big families too, and we’re all on the younger side, seeing our older brothers and sisters and the pitfalls of life through our families and stuff so you learn from that too and from each other. Just kinda kept it under control and prevail together.

BV: Talking of The Apollo shows, you’re about to head out on these Summer shows. What can you tell us about the Magic Summer Tour and the connection to the first ones…

JK: Mostly the name is the nostalgia part. We done a huge tour in 1990 called The Magic Summer tour which was really over the top, the production was crazy, we spent so much money. Too much money. We all had entourages with us. We had like 100 trucks travelling across the US – it was a stadium tour. It was ridiculous. So, this is a little redemption to do it better, to do it right to do it together as a group, we weren’t together so much as a group back then, at that particular point in time. This time we are, and we’re calling it The Magic Summer Tour. We’re outside like we were in 1990 and I’m sure we’ll be feeling the Summer, maybe a little too much, its going to be hot up there but we’ll get through it. Back then we were doing magic tricks, this time there are no tricks. We’re calling it The Magic Summer Tour, hopefully we’re going to bring our magic to the people and have a lot of fun.

BV: Any chance of you coming to the UK to do some shows?

JK: It’s not on the schedule right now but we’ve been over there before and we have a lot of fun and we know there’s a lot of people ready to come and see us. Back in the day when we used to go to the UK, we felt free…people weren’t as uptight. Its really  funny, we never looked at the US back then as being uptight. You might look at the UK from the US and be like they’re snobby British people blah blah blah and then we went over there and everyone was realer than real. You could say what you want to say. You could be blunt..a little rude. Talk about sexual things…be free. And we found that really awesome. We’ll never forget that and it’s something we feel whenever we’re in the UK. Just a little freer.

New Kids On The Blocks brand new album Still Kids is out Friday 17 May.