[Nov 07, 2007]BSB Talk About the Making of Unbreakable

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[Nov 07, 2007]BSB Talk About the Making of Unbreakable

Post by CE on Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:22 am

By Jonathan WidranTen
years after taking over the pop chart with their 14 times platinum
debut album, the Backstreet Boys are indeed back and in fine form on
their new Jive Records release Unbreakable, out October 30. The
upcoming disc’s first single “Inconsolable,” written & produced by
Emanuel Kiriakou (Nick Lachey, Katharine McPhee) was released to U.S.
radio outlets on August 27 and hit the Billboard Hot 100 in late
September.
Like
the title of their previous album Never Gone (2005), the name of the
new collection is an obvious reference to not only the enduring impact
of the group, but also to the Backstreet Boys’ unwavering commitment to
each other. A lot has changed since 1997, when the Orlando, FL-based
unit of Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin
Richardson began their impressive run. Today, like so many of their
fans that bought those 75 million albums and helped them score a dozen
Top 40 Hits (including “As Long As You Love Me,” “All I Have To Give,”
“Larger Than Life” and “I Want It That Way”), they’ve grown up and
started families.
Carter
and Littrell have recorded successful solo projects and Richardson
starred as Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway. In 2003, McLean appeared
on the Oprah Winfrey show, where he came out for the first time about
his drug and alcohol addictions. In the early to mid-2000s, they left
their original management company The Firm and filed a $75-100 million
lawsuit against Jive Records’ parent company Zomba Music Group,
claiming breach of contract. Yet even with all those extra-Backstreet
happenings, the “boys” (who now range in age from 27 to 34) never lost
their touch, coming back in 2005 to release Never Gone, which sold 10
million units worldwide.
The
Backstreet Boys keep that momentum going on Unbreakable, but with a
catch: this is their first album since Richardson exited the band in
2006. Dorough says, “Kevin actually came to us right before we started
recording this record and told us that in his heart he just wasn’t
feeling the passion to go forward with another project. His life is
taking a different departure, with his wife just having a baby and him
wanting to have time to be there to raise a family during those early
years. We all know from past experience that between writing and
recording, an album can sometimes be a long two-year process. So we
totally understood and gave him that space and time. He in turn gave us
his blessing and encouraged us to move forward, with absolutely no hard
feelings. He’s at a great place in his life now and we’re happy for
him.”
Dorough
adds that while it was a challenge trying to reconfigure the lead and
harmony vocals as a quartet, there was never talk about replacing
Richardson. “Making this record, we consciously had to make a decision
on how we were going to do this with just the four of us so that people
wouldn’t feel we were missing something. And I think we were able to
really do that. We actually partnered up with a great team of writers
and producers and did some writing as well ourselves. I think
everyone’s going to be really happy with Unbreakable. It definitely
represents the Backstreet Boys of the old and new. And we’re looking
forward to moving on with this next chapter in our lives as Kevin moves
on with his.”
The
Backstreet Boys spent a year and a half recording Unbreakable, which
marks a confident return to the pop template that best defines the
group’s sound. All 13 tracks demonstrate an organic ease with material
that is an ideal fit. “Helpless When She Smiles” is another hit-worthy
midtempo ballad produced by Grammy-winning John Shanks (Kelly Clarkson,
Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi, Hilary Duff). A number of other tracks were
produced and co-written in Nashville by Dan Muckala, who worked with
the group on Never Gone. Among his standouts is the moody Beatles-esque
“Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon” - a song that all four singers herald
as a highlight of the set. BSB asked well-known songwriter Billy Mann
(Pink, Jessica Simpson) to collaborate on the song with Muckala. The
result, says Littrell, “is a love story, but with an unexpected message
that really makes you think. Melodically, the bridge becomes another
song, which I love. It’s really all about the emotion of the vocals,
and it’s different than any other track we’ve recorded.”
Another
priority was to include various uptempo tracks on the new album that
would translate into some serious trademark kinetic energy when
Backstreet Boys start touring again. The synthesizer-driven “Everything
But Mine,” lively and frenetic “Panic,” rollicking “Any Other Way” and
creepy crawler “One in a Million” fit this bill perfectly. The other
producers involved in Unbreakable are Rob Weiss and *NSYNC member JC
Chasez.
McLean
says, “One of the things we really strived to do was just really have
fun again as far as the creative process. We spent almost a month and a
half working with Dan Muckala and some other really talented writers.
We essentially lived in the studio and took a full, hands-on approach
to the entire record, predominantly A&R-ing it ourselves, along
with management and the record company. It was very similar to making
records like the old days for us. We were just really excited about it,
wanting to find the sound we’re known for but kind of modernize and
update it and try to be trendsetters again. The idea was to be a little
bit more on the edge but also have timeless classic Backstreet with
really good harmonies and melodies and great lyrical content. We did
some organic pop rock for a while, but those songs didn’t allow us to
dance as much. On this record, we’re going to be dancing all over the
place, having a good time and putting on a great show again!”
As
exciting as all the new collaborations are, there is one obvious
element missing: Max Martin, the mega producer who has worked with
Backstreet Boys since the very beginning and is the sonic force behind
most of their best known hits. Carter insists that the group still has
a great relationship with Martin, but they ultimately decided to
experiment with a different direction and try some new things on
Unbreakable. “It went into a new direction just naturally,” he says.
“We worked with Dan Muckala a majority of the album and he wrote the
song ‘Incomplete’ on Never Gone. And I think we wanted…we had done so
much with Max in the past, I think we just wanted to break the mold and
do some stuff on our own, too. We worked extensively this time in
Nashville and wrote and mixed and matched different writers and
producers that we wanted to be on the album. That’s not to say we
wouldn’t work with Max in the future. We love everything we have done
with him in the past, but for now it was time to move on and try
another approach.”
While
the Backstreet Boys can easily claim (with their new album) that
they’re back - the truth is they never went away. Over the course of 15
years, the group has maintained relevance in an industry that often
disposes of pop acts with haste. Littrell reflects, “The pop bands of
yesteryear that don’t exist anymore were centered around one or two
central vocalists. What has allowed us to keep going is that we were
always a team of well-rounded singers, with a similar vision. We’ve
been through so much together, on equal terms, and that either tears
you apart or brings you closer. When we took a break from 2002 to 2005,
it was such a blessing to step outside of our own spotlight and focus
on the value of something other than being a pop star. We needed to go
through that character building in order to maintain respect for what
we all have as a group.”
Dorough
adds, “Our music has evolved with our fans. We were young pups when we
started. With each album we’ve had the opportunity to grow more mature,
lyrically and vocally. We’ve also had the chance to educate ourselves
about the business, about artistry and becoming real musicians. I hope
that shows with each step we’ve taken.”
Echoing
the sentiments of his bandmates and looking ahead towards a still
bright future for the boys, McLean concludes, “We’ve been part of this
group for half our lives - it’s crazy to think about. If you asked me
in 1992 if I’d still be a Backstreet Boy in 2008, I’d have thought
we’ll make some records together and have a good little run. But we
continue because we love what we do. We thrive being onstage and seeing
the faces of little girls and boys and couples and grandmothers, all
cutting a jig in the front row. If we were to write a book based on our
experiences, I think it would be longer than War And Peace. When I’m a
grandpa, I’m going to have a lot of stories to tell.”

CE
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