Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean talks 'emotional' documentary, album plans
The Backstreet Boys documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, is currently available on VOD and iTunes, as well as being shown in limited theaters throughout the country. Following the band’s 20-year run, the documentary tells the story of how A.J. McLean, Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, and Nick Carter rose to fame, the mistakes they made along the way, and why they’re still making music 20 years later. And yet, even a two-hour film can’t encompass everything the guys have been through.
We talked to McLean about what had to be cut from the film, along with what’s next for the group.
On what they cut: When the band was originally created by Lou Pearlman, nobody knew that Pearlman was running what would become known as one of the longest Ponzi schemes in American history. It was a fact that the guys later discovered, and considering the role it played in their careers, the story is very prominent in the doc, with the band even going so far as to revisit Pearlman’s old house. Yet, the guys originally wanted to take things a step further.
“One of the things that we didn’t get to do that we tried desperately to do was to actually go see Lou in jail and sit down with him, and the five of us just ask him, ‘Why? Why did you do it?’ Everything looked like it was going to happen and then unfortunately the warden would not give us the greenlight,” McLean said. “Then they said, ‘One of you can come but not all five,’ and we were like, ‘If it’s not all five it’s just not worth it.'”
On what will be included in the bonus footage: Although much of the documentary centers around the guys taking one another on tours of their individual hometowns, a lot of that footage ended up in the “bonus” category. “There was a lot more of the personal home trips that we didn’t have a chance to really get in there, but fortunately there is going to be some bonus footage, a lot of bonus footage actually, that will be released on the film when it’s going to DVD, Blu-Ray,” McLean said. “There’s an exclusive interview with our head of security, who passed away over a year ago now, so we’re actually dedicating the film to him and to all of our fans. That was a real rough moment for all of us. And there was a couple more things about Lou that we were going to have in there but we didn’t want to drag it out.”
On the most difficult part of the process: With Littrell’s struggle with vocal cord tension dysphonia being featured in the film, McLean remembers the moment the guys first talked about it as being one of the most difficult parts of the documentary process. “I think probably the initial recording in London [was the hardest part], not really truly knowing what Brian was going through yet,” McLean said. “All of us got together in the kitchen and we just listened to him tell us what’s going on and his frustrations and just talk as a bunch of brothers. It got a little heated. It got a little emotional, but I’m glad that it happened because then we all had a better understanding and we could be much more sympathetic and much more compassionate towards Brian’s situation. I commend him highly for being open and honest about it in the film, because our fans are not stupid.”
On what’s next: “We’ve been on a break now since we finished our second run in Europe, which ended in July. Everyone’s been doing their own thing. I’m finishing up a solo record that is going to blow people away; it’s nothing like anyone’s ever heard from me before. And we go back on the road again in April to finish up [what] will be our second-longest tour run in history—it’ll be 2 and a half years almost being on the road. We’re finishing up from April through July. We possilbly may be doing something over the summer and then we go back in the studio, start making our tenth studio record.
“We have a deal with Live Nation, so we are going to be on tour until the end of 2017 with a brand new album and a brand new tour. Just when we think it’s going to die down for a minute, nope! It’s an absolute blessing that we’re able to continue doing this and continue making music.”
On their album wishlist: “We definitely want to do a totally stripped-down album. I think Nick and I have talked about, if we did do an acoustic album, we would do a double CD—10 brand new songs as well as our biggest hits acoustic. We still have to do a proper Christmas album. We would love to do an unreleased album of all the unreleased tracks even though they’re all on YouTube but just to actually package it and remaster everything. We’d love to do a strictly a capella album, so there’s lots of things left for us to do.”