A Conversation with AJ McLean

May 6, 2022 by Rachael Contreras
There are few bands that become a world-wide mega sensation, and mega sensation is an understatement when it comes to the Backstreet Boys.
With nearly 60 North American shows this summer, and more than 20 overseas this fall – most of which are already sold out – Backstreet Boys are finally able to dive into the second leg of their world tour for their “DNA” album. OC Music News was lucky enough to sit down with AJ McLean and get the skinny on what has been happening in his world, and all things Backstreet Boys!
Zooming in from his well-manicured backyard, with birds chirping in the background while he donned comfy clothing and a relaxed posture, McLean was so easy to talk to and could not have been nicer. It’s rare someone has the chance to interview a megastar from a “boy band” – so big they could eclipse the sun – but we did and we are excited to tell you all about it.

Backstreet’s “DNA” was released in mid 2019 and the band did a partial tour, completing the first leg then taking a well-deserved break before the second leg started. Unfortunately, during their break, the world-wide pandemic shut down planet Earth.
While the rest of us were fighting over toilet paper, baking sourdough bread, and binging “The Office,” McLean went to work on creating and perfecting new music, guest starring on TV shows, creating his own nail polish line, designing a golf clothing line, and hatching an “athleisure” clothing line for men, women, and children. But perhaps the most intriguing news he shared with us – he has completed his first solo EP and is in the studio for his second EP! McLean just shot the video for his first single, and he was excited to share that this “sexy yet edgy” project will turn heads when it drops on June 10th.
Backstreet Boys have been around since 1993 and released their self-titled first album in 1996. Writing music for nearly 30 years and 10 albums has to be a daunting task. You have to write music that sounds similar without going too experimental so you don’t turn your fans off, but you don’t want it to sound like every other song in your catalogue.
It is a daunting task for masters of the musical art! They have succeeded with “DNA;” it is a matured version of their self-titled album, which proves even 30 years later, they still have what it takes to be one of the best “boy bands” in history.
McLean feels “DNA” covers all the BSB musical bases and includes their first real acapella. But move over king-of-Christmas-Michael-Buble; McLean was also very excited to share that BSB will be releasing their first Christmas album this year! Having worked on this upcoming holiday album since May of 2021, McLean stressed how enthusiastic the group is about the album and he thinks they’ve never sounded better. McLean said, “Besides getting back on the road, this is the most exciting thing happening for us this year! We are all amped about this Christmas album!”
The Backstreet Boys member and I made some small talk about how much it tickles the band pink to hear their songs become TikTok trends, or hear them on commercials. McLean said during the Super Bowl, he was in his kitchen and surprised to hear one of their songs come on one of those overly-priced, coveted commercial slots. But the best was earlier this year when he found Pixar’s “Big Red” movie to preview with his kids and the music playing in the trailer was the BSB song “Larger Than Life.” He seemed to get choked up for second while reminiscing, “As soon as I heard it, I called the boys! To be in the same world as Pixar is just cool as shit! That means to me we have made memories and created a legacy that will live on.”
Also making its way through the web is a video of the rock band Korn singing “I Want It That Way” in all white in front of a green screen (we can only imagine this was their “downtime antics” during their own video shoot). I suggested to McLean, “The only way this could be topped is if Backstreet Boys did their own video and sang, ‘A.D.I.D.A.S’!” McLean replied, “Nick and I were talking and we’d love to do, ‘Freak on a Leash’ or something. And it was hilarious that they were all wearing white. I was like, ‘What am I watching right now?!’ But we are definitely going to do something in rebuttal to that, but I can’t say what right now.”
McLean spoke of his love for music and reiterated what is true for all music genres; the need for live shows. “Live concerts are such an important part of our culture,” he explained. “It’s two hours or whatever for the artist while people forget about their 9-5. I think the pandemic really put a lot of things in perspective. As a fan of music, I know I can’t live without live concerts and new music and I think the fans feel the same way. It’s so awesome to be able to get back out on the road again!”

To catch a glimpse of this super group, grab your tickets now because they are going super-fast!
Locally, you can catch them on June 5th at the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, and June 7th at the Hollywood Bowl.



ocmn 2022


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