Nick Carter, Jordan Knight join forces as Nick & Knight
The Backstreet Boy and the New Kid on the Block, playing Royal Oak on Sunday, come together for joint album, tour — but don’t expect them to sit around swapping old tales.
If you can do it, Jordan Knight and Nick Carter have done it.
As the heart-throbbiest heartthrobs in two of the most popular boy bands of all time — Knight in late ’80s faves New Kids on the Block, Carter in turn-of-the-millennium phenoms Backstreet Boys — this pair has seen and experienced more insanity than most of us could ever conjure up in our wildest pop fantasies.
But it’s not like the two of them belly up to the bar and trade tales with one another, reminiscing about that one time those fans in that hotel in New Orleans yada yada yada.
“We don’t really get into war stories like that,” says Knight, on the phone last week from Cincinnati, where he and Carter were four days into a tour supporting their new joint album, “Nick & Knight.” “Usually you say war stories either right after you become really famous or when you’re really old. We’re in the middle ground here, so we’re kind of sick of telling war stories. If he tells me one, I’m like, ‘I’ve heard it all, dude. I’ve heard it and seen it all, we don’t need to sit here and talk about it.’ ”
Veteran idols Knight, 44, and Carter, 34, are both married, responsible adults who have comfortably settled into the middle years of pop stardom. They had made each others’ acquaintance several times over the years but really hit it off with one another during the 2011-2012 NKOTBSB tour, where the New Kids and Backstreet Boys shared the stage with one another and formed a veritable boy band monolith.
“We would make jokes underneath the stage and crack each other up, and I was always on the Knight’s tour bus — he was kind of like long lost family,” says Carter, on the phone from Cincinnati later that afternoon. “We brought it up that we should do our own tour together, then that turned into, ‘We should do an album!’ And so once the tour finished, we moved forward — we wrote music, wrote songs together, and those songs were easy to write. I trusted him, he trusted me, and before we knew it we had a record done.”
“Nick & Knight” — Knight came up with the duo’s too-perfect moniker — is a breezy album of adult pop and R&B that doesn’t stray far from the two stars’ comfort zones. There are no attempts at current pop domination, and no songs are awash in modern electronic dance music production. “We put our influences in there, and that kind of dictated where the record went,” Carter says. Adds Knight, who has released three solo albums apart from his work with New Kids, “to me, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it feels good.”
Right now, the pair’s collaboration feels good, and they hope to bring the “Nick & Knight” tour — where Knight and Carter perform songs from their shared album as well as their groups’ respective hits — to international markets next year. The two of them balance each other: Knight says he’s the more the business man, while Carter is the more passionate, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. Carter agrees. “I’m still learning a lot about business,” he says. “(Knight) pays attention to the numbers and he keeps his expectations under wraps, and I’ve always been the positive thinker, like, ‘Everything’s going to be great!’ He’s like, ‘Let’s keep realistic expectations, and if it does better, then great.’ ” (“Nick & Knight” debuted at No. 24 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, selling around 9,000 copies its opening week.)
Carter also says Knight has taught him how to relax. With Backstreet, “we’re really strict with a lot of stuff,” Carter says. “We’re always striving for perfection, and a lot of times that can get in the way of having a good time. With Jordan, if we do our choreography, it’s like, ‘Let’s do it, and if we mess up, who cares, we’ll keep working on it.’ But it’s not like, ‘Oh, my God, it has to be absolutely perfect.’ In a lot of ways, that has taught me how to enjoy myself and perform a little bit more than to just always be so strict.”
Knight’s end goal is simple: Please the fans, and everything else comes later.
“When you get on stage, it’s not about getting attention. It’s not about self-indulgence or showing off. It’s about doing something for the people in the audience, it’s about giving the people what they want,” he says. “People pay us to be entertained, and that’s our job, to give them what they want for the full duration of the show. That’s it. We definitely did that on the NKOTBSB tour, and me and Nick are carrying that over into our show as well.”
Both New Kids and Backstreet paved the way for the current success of One Direction, so would Knight and Carter ever consider hitting the road with One Direction and forming NKOTBSB1D? Both say they’d be up for it.
“I’m in, I’m game,” Knight says. “We’ll take those little whipper snappers under our wings and show them what it’s all about, for sure. And they’ll help us get into stadiums — since they’re doing it right now on their own.”
Just don’t expect them to regale the young lads with their well-worn tales from the road.
Nick Carter and Jordan Knight
7 p.m. Sunday
Royal Oak Music Theatre
318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak
www.axs.com or (248) 399-2980