By Julie Parise, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Call it a flashback – to a time just before nearly everyone had smartphones, Facebook and iPods, and the pop culture scene was dominated by teen idols singing ballads about love gone wrong.
Two nineties-era pop music sensations, NKOTB (also known as the New Kids On The Block) and The Backstreet Boys, have joined forces to hit the stage together as one super-group. The boy band bonanza known as the NKOTBSB Tour hit our area this weekend with a Friday night performance in Atlantic City, and the group will end their stay in the Tri-State with a concert at Nassau Coliseum scheduled for Sunday night.
But don’t call it a comeback.
Some are deeming the 41-date North American tour a “reunion” for each of the two groups, who separately dominated the teen scene with their clean-cut appearances, insanely catchy pop hits and throngs of teenage followers back in the 90s. But the truth is, neither of the boy bands ever really left the music industry. They just grew up a little bit.
While the hype surrounding them has certainly died down since the days of hits like “Hangin’ Tough” and “I Want It That Way,” both the New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys have continued to make music and perform over the years, amid short breaks during which some of them got married, started families, or even went to rehab.
With this tour, they’re climbing their way back to pop megastar status.
“We’re doing sold-out arenas sometimes multiple nights,” Backstreet Boy member Howie Dorough told CBSNewYork. “It’s like we’re back in the height of the days. Hearing the girls, even though they’re not all teenagers anymore, they’re still screaming like they’re teenagers.”
It’s a dream come true for many – and not just the fans. For Dorough, better known by the public as Howie D, the tour isn’t just a culmination of his success, but a realization of his own aspirations.
“As as a young kid in my teens I definitely was a fan of the New Kids, they definitely were the boy band of my era,” Dorough said. “I admired them and wanted to be one of them.”
In fact, as a teen with hopes of making it in the music industry, Dorough recorded his own karaoke version of NKOTB hits to send to record companies. One of the New Kids, Jordan Knight, even served as inspiration to Dorough in his career.
“I definitely tried to emulate him with a lot of the Backstreet stuff,” Dorough said. “To be on the same stage as him right now, and to become friends with him, it’s kind of crazy to think about how things can come around, and you just never know what life has in store for you.”
Meanwhile, Dorough has been busy putting together his first solo album Back To Me, slated to hit stores this November.
Calling the experience of releasing his own record “exciting” and “a little nerve-wracking,” Dorough said it’s been a long time coming, as he and his band mates continue to grow, both as a group and as individuals.
“We all came from individual backgrounds,” Dorough said of the Backstreet Boys. “We all knew that when we started, we would give each other the chance when the timing is right for each of us, to spread our wings and venture out there individually. For me, now’s the time.”
And while he’s not the first from his group to go solo, Backstreet fans aren’t to worry – this group is in it together for the long run.
“All the individual stuff even makes the group even stronger and makes the shows even bigger,” Dorough said.
For tickets to see NKOTBSB at Nassau Coliseum Sunday evening, check Ticketmaster.
Julie Parise is the features editor for CBSNewYork.com.