"We were like, 'Let's just give the fans what they want, and put a twist on it,'" Jordan Knight tells Billboard about new album "10."
The last time New Kids on the Block released an album was in 2008, and the late 80s/early 90s superstars' first comeback LP was not entirely their own. "The Block," which followed a 14-year hiatus for the vocal group responsible for hits like "Hangin' Tough" and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," was stuffed with collaborations, including guest appearances by Ne-Yo, Timbaland, New Edition, Akon, the Pussycat Dolls and a then-little-known Lady Gaga.
"The Block" has sold an impressive 332,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but follow-up "10," released through Kobalt on Tuesday (Apr. 2), finds NKOTB singing with a singular vision -- that is, with nary a vocal collaborator on the entire LP. For Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and Donnie Wahlberg, the first NKOTB album with all the members firmly in their 40s is a delightfully close-knit showcase.
"What happened was that we were on a big label, Interscope Records, and all those people were right there, ready to collaborate," Jordan Knights tells Billboard of the process that made "The Block's" performing credits swell. " We're on an independent label now, and we felt that we owed it to the fans to just collaborate with the five guys. There's more singing from Danny and John on this album. We've gone back home on this album -- we're true to our roots, and it's less 'Let's be cool, let's go to the club, let's be on pop radio.' We were like, 'Let's just give the fans what they want, and put a twist on it.' And that's what we've done."
Instead of relying on flashy guest stars, "10" finds NKOTB working with Deekay, a five-person Danish production team now based in Los Angeles. After hearing one instrumental from Deekay (which would eventually turn into the single "Remix (I Like The)," the New Kids "met up with those guys and started searching their hard drive for music," says Knight.
After three months of working with Deekay breezed by, a full album was completed, and in late January "Remix (I Like The)" was floated out as the first single. Although the single has sold only 23,000 downloads according to Nielsen SoundScan, the song's sleek, hilarious music video has earned 446,000 views in less than a month's time. The story of a "lonely wallflower" who cuts extremely loose at a hoity-toity party, the clip features the NKOTB guys as suited love crooners, and has been (rightly) hailed as one of the more inventive music videos released thus far in 2013.
"The song has a 60s vibe to it, and that's what you see in the video," says Knight. "The song's about just being confident -- 'sexy' isn't really 'sexy,' 'confidence' is what brings about 'sexiness,' and that's the message being portrayed in the video."
Two years after New Kids on the Block united with Backstreet Boys for the co-headlined NKOTBSB tour, the boy band will join Boyz II Men and the recently reunited 98 Degrees for this summer's "The Package" tour, kicking off on May 28 in Uncasville, Conn. Along with the live debut of their "10" material, the "Package" tour will find NKOTB performing on a stage set up in the center of arenas, "so everyone will have a good seat," Knight says with a laugh.
The upcoming tour also marks 98 Degrees' first extended tour in nearly a decade, and although Knight says that he and his band mates have yet to discuss the matter too much with their future touring mates, he can assure that the quartet has nothing to worry about. "There's a lot of stigma on teen heartthrobs and boy bands, that they're just a flash-in-the-pan," he says. "And if you don't listen to that criticism, you can actually keep on going. I'm proud of us for doing that. We've showed group like 98 Degrees what's possible."