Former boy band New Kids On the Block still love the fans’ screaming
THE men of New Kids On the Block are masters of the science of the scream.
The communal howl of teenage girls that split eardrums in the boy band’s early 1990s heyday has declined in volume but not enthusiasm in the past decade of their man-band reunion.
When they launched One More Night, the first new single in four years, on The Late Late Show with James Corden in March, the band was greeted by loud cheers and almost constant clapping keeping time with their R & B flavoured pop.
When Jordan, Donnie, Joe, Danny or Jonathan stepped out of formation to take a solo spot or the quintet busted one of their signature moves, they were rewarded with a burst of screaming reminiscent of the piercing screeches which dogged them until they called it quits back in 1994.
Back in 1992 when the band toured Australia for the first time and attracted the level of teen fan hysteria generally labelled as Beatlemania, Donnie Wahlberg told the Australian media at their press conference that NKOTB welcomed the attention.
“It gets crazy. It’s just the price you have to pay and we’re not going to complain and tell the fans to stop enjoying themselves and stop showing their affection for us,” Wahlberg said.
“If that’s the only price we have to pay having girls chase us around the streets, then I’ll pay that price for another 10 years.”
Wahlberg couldn’t know then they would be over in another two years. Or that they would reunite in 2008 and keep going.
As NKOTB prepare to head out on an American Total Package Tour with fellow ’90s survivors Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men, Jordan Knight says the scream remains one of the barometers they monitor to determine the success of a gig or a song.
“Of course, you can just feel it. We also get honest feedback from family and friends and fans,” he says.
“We haven’t yet had the moment ‘Oh, they don’t love us’ but we don’t ever want to take it for granted.
“Sometimes you have a sense ‘Yeah, they’re screaming’ but we feel we didn’t kill it; they just didn’t scream that loud and we do have a special sensitivity to that.”
NKOTB are releasing a new EP Thankful on May 12 where the chart barometer will have to substitute for a decibel meter.
Reunited boy bands rarely trouble the upper echelons of the pop charts with their new wares and One More Night failed to crack the top 100 in the major markets of America or UK but did in several countries through Europe and South America.
“Thankful” has been the mantra of the five men in their comeback phase. There are still thousands of women in their 30s and 40s who maintain their love of the Step By Step chart-toppers.
“We’re not chasing No.1. We would love to have a No. 1 for sure and maybe when we first came out, we were looking at the charts,” Knight says.
“But in this day and age, we’re thankful and grateful just to still be doing it.”
It is remarkable that NKOTB or Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Boyz II Men are still playing arenas — or cruises — up to three decades after they generated their phenomenal success.
No one gave NKOTB a shelf life of longer than five years when they first cracked the top spot in America in 1989 with I’ll be Loving You (Forever), kept it with Hangin’ Tough and returned in 1990 with Step By Step. There were also plenty of top 10s — Please Don’t Go Girl, You Got It (The Right Stuff), Cover Girl, Didn’t I Blow Your Mind and Tonight before the hits dried up.
While Wahlberg, Knight and Joe McIntyre maintained careers in entertainment, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood chose to stay out of the limelight.
There were a couple of attempts to get the band back together before all five members agreed in 2007.
“Honestly when I was 20 years old, I would never have imagined us doing this now. No way did I see it; I thought I might go into producing or developing other acts. Which I totally didn’t get into,” Jordan Knight says.
“I remember back then when journalists asked us where did we see ourselves in five years, you knew they thought we were not going to last another five years.
“I think we used to say ‘You never know. We hope our fans will grow up with us.’ Everyone probably thought ‘dream on, kid’.”
Knight says there have yet to be discussions about bringing the tour to Australia but it would be more likely another run with their good mates Backstreet Boys, who shared arena stages here in 2012.
“I would love to go back there. Usually we do a tour of the US one year and international the next year so there’s a good chance we will see you in 2018, maybe another co-headline tour with the Backstreet Boys.”